Helping Customers Distinguish Between Hybrids, Plug-Ins, and Fully Electric Vehicles

August 29, 2023

Team ACV




Helping Customers Distinguish Between Hybrids, Plug-Ins, and Fully Electric Vehicles

ACV facts & figures

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A used Hybrid Car parked near a bridge.

As drivers think about gas prices, reducing their environmental footprint, and trying out the latest and greatest technology, they’re becoming more interested in electric vehicles (EVs). But moving away from internal combustion models can present car shoppers with more options than they expected. It’s important for sales teams to be able to convey the differences between the types of electric vehicles so potential buyers feel informed and empowered about their purchase. This guide dives into what customers need to know about the different types of electric vehicles and their individual benefits. 

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Jumping right into the fully electric market can be a major leap for some buyers, which is why hybrids remain popular. Range anxiety—worrying about running out of battery and not being able to quickly refill as you would in a gas-powered vehicle—is a common concern for people considering EVs for the first time. Hybrid electric vehicles use electric motors to supplement a gasoline engine rather than replace it entirely¹.

The battery of a hybrid vehicle charges when the car stops through regenerative braking, where some of the energy is captured and stored in the battery and used by the engine. The battery can also be used when power demands are lower, such as when coasting at a set speed or driving slowly. Unlike fully electric vehicles, hybrids cannot be plugged in².

The main benefit of hybrid vehicles is that drivers can still take advantage of existing gas stations while using fuel overall. Being able to refuel in a familiar setting is a great way for drivers to transition to newer technology without sacrificing convenience. Since these vehicles use less gas, their emissions are lower than internal combustion vehicles. However, these cars can be slightly more expensive than gas-only models, and the variable transmission can lead to higher levels of engine revving, which some drivers need time to get used to².

Plug-In Hybrids

Plug-in hybrid vehicles are specific types of hybrid vehicles that can also be plugged in and charged up. They usually use battery power first and then switch to the gas engine when the battery is depleted. This transition happens seamlessly, so there is no need for the driver to do anything.

Plug-in hybrids can travel about 60 miles or less on a single battery charge, so the range is smaller than a fully electric vehicle³. But if your customer has a short commute, the electric engine might be enough for their daily driving, greatly reducing gas costs and carbon emissions. On the other hand, they don’t need to worry about being limited in range on longer trips since the gas engine will kick in.

Essentially, the plug-in hybrid is a happy medium between hybrids and fully electric vehicles. That means their prices tend to fall within the same range—more expensive than hybrids, but less than fully electric models. On the plus side, there are plug-in hybrids that are eligible for tax credits, much like electric cars.

Customers looking to maximize the benefits of electric power may not want a plug-in hybrid since it’s limited in battery usage and requires a dedicated outlet at home. Apartment dwellers might not have access to that kind of power source. But a driver who wants to have the full electric vehicle experience plus the convenience of a gas-powered engine will likely be happy with this option³.

Electric Vehicles

Fully electric vehicles may be the first thing consumers think of when hearing about an electric car. These cars use electrified motors rather than combustion engines entirely. They produce no emissions when driven¹, though there is an environmental cost to producing the electricity it takes to charge the engine.

Many fully electric vehicles can get well over 200 miles of driving per charge¹, which is enough for many consumers to complete their daily commutes. However, charging an EV takes more time than a plug-in hybrid, and public charging stations are currently less prevalent than gas stations—though this is changing rapidly as EVs become more widely available.

Electric vehicles can be plugged into a typical 120V outlet, but some drivers may prefer installing a dedicated 240V outlet for faster home charging. Consumers looking to go fully electric may find the plug-in ability attractive since they may be able to generate and use electricity at no cost if they use solar panels⁴.

Build Your Electric Inventory with ACV Auctions

Closing a sale depends on understanding your consumer’s perspective. Are they all-in on electric power and the latest? Fully electric may be right for them. Do they drive long distances and want to avoid long charging times or limited range? Then a hybrid may be for them. Consumers in the middle who are looking to reduce gas mileage and emissions while preserving convenience and range are going to love plug-in hybrids. Figuring out what the customer is looking for and matching your inventory to those needs is a great first step to one less car sitting on the lot.

No matter what you’re looking for, ACV Auctions is the place to start stocking your dealership. Our comprehensive market reporting and wish list feature have made us the go-to marketplace for finding high-quality used EVs, plug-in hybrids, and hybrid electric vehicles at fair prices. Sign up today to find and bid on the next generation of your dealership’s inventory.



  1. Hybrid vs. Electric vs. Plug-In: What Are They & How Are They Different? Edmunds. Retrieved on August 13, 2023, from
  2. Monticello, M. (2/17/2022). How to Decide If a Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or Fully Electric Car is Right for You. Consumer Reports. Retrieved on August 13, 2023, from
  3. Demuro, D. (7/03/2023). Should You Buy an Electric Car or a Plug-In Hybrid? Autotrader. Retrieved on August 13, 2023, from
  4. Explaining Electric & Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles. EPA. Retrieved on August 13, 2023, from