The electric car is a car propelled by electric motors. Though technically this could also include vehicles in which the electricity to power said motors comes from hydrogen fuel cells or ultra-capacitors, in general usage the term refers solely to battery electric cars.
The hybrid electric car refers to a car powered by both electricity and another power source, typically an internal combustion engine (ICE). There are two different types of hybrid electric car; the parallel hybrid (such as the Toyota Prius) and the series hybrid (such as the Chevrolet Volt). The difference between the two is that in a parallel hybrid, both the ICE and the electric motor(s) are connected to the wheel and deliver propulsion directly, whereas in a series hybrid the ICE is used to generate electricity to power an electric generator, which sends electricity to the motors to turn the wheels. This saves weight as there is no need for a gearbox.
The electric car is technology dating back to at least 1835, and was common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however with the invention of the electric starter, petrol powered cars became more common as they were cheaper to produce and their fuel was cheap and abundant at the time.
The hybrid electric car goes back to 1900 when Ferdinand Porsche used a petrol engine to generate electricity for what was initially meant to be a full electric car. Powering the car from lead acid batteries alone would cause it to weigh too much; it would still have been subject to the range issues which electric cars still suffer.
Advantages of electric cars
- Often cheaper to run.
- Less pollution produced if plugged into the right grid.
- Doesn't waste energy or pollute through idling (e.g. while in a traffic jam or waiting for the light to change), though this benefit is reduced when compared with traditional cars fitted with a start-stop system.
- Reduced traffic noise.
- Balance-of-trade benefits for most countries through the use of domestically produced electricity and less reliance on liquid fuel imports.
- Less vibrations and noise when driving.
- Exemptions from car stamp-duty, as well as reductions in registration fees (in certain countries).
- History Of Electric Vehicles, About.com.