Volvo Electric vs. Hybrid Vehicles: Benefits, Inner Workings, and Differences

Electric and Mild Hybrid Differences
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Looking at the attractive range of Volvo vehicles, you may be wondering about the differences between electric vs. hybrid vehicles. Beyond that, too, there's more than one type of hybrid vehicle. All of them come with unique eco-friendly benefits, performance potential, and a difference in function. All will satisfy, but to make your choice a confident one, we'll go over how these efficient systems are different, how they work, and the benefits they offer you on this page.

What Is a Hybrid Vehicle?

Before diving into pure electric vs. hybrid, and the different types you'll find, let's look at the word "hybrid" a bit closer. The dictionary definition of "hybrid" means a combination of two separate things into one system. In the case of a hybrid vehicle, those two things are a gas engine and an electric motor.

The gas engine is a venerable invention and one that's served drivers well for almost a century. But, like the telephone, it can be improved upon. Thanks to the internal combustion process and countless moving parts, a gas engine's power output and efficiency can fluctuate at different RPMs and speed ranges.

A Closer Look

For example, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine like the one you’d find in a Volvo XC60 mild hybrid for sale works with beautiful efficiency while cruising at highway speed. However, as you accelerate from a stop, the gas engine may not be able to handle the load with as much efficiency.

Meanwhile, an electric motor has far fewer moving parts and instantly delivers its power. It also linearly delivers that power, free from drops in efficiency at certain speeds. So, with those gas engine fluctuations we mentioned in mind, you can start to see the purpose here.

In essence, on a hybrid vehicle, the electric motor's power fills in any gaps left by the gas engine, maintaining the most efficient power delivery at all times.

How Does a Mild Hybrid Volvo Vehicle Work?

Look under the hood of a Volvo S60 mild hybrid for sale, and you'll find that aforementioned gas engine/electric motor combo. The basics may be apparent, but the intricacies go deeper.

The goal is the same; use the electric motor to reduce the load on the engine and improve efficiency as a result. Furthermore, the electric motor is also used to get the gas engine started with supreme smoothness. However, the electric motor is not there to drive the vehicle forward, but rather to lend the engine a hand. Other hybrid systems do use the electric motor in that way, though — more on that later.

Another mild hybrid Volvo vehicle signature is the way the system charges the onboard battery. On one, the electric motor does double duty, turning into an electrical generator and recharging the battery as you brake and as the gas engine operates. Overall, a mild hybrid system is an affordable way to achieve great efficiency.

What Is a Full Hybrid Vehicle?

The charging methods, goals, and basic layouts are the same on a full hybrid as they are on a mild hybrid Volvo vehicle, but it adds all-electric driving capabilities into the mix.

How do Volvo Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles Work?

At a glance, both types of hybrid systems are similar. But, one major point in the mild hybrid vs. plug-in hybrid (PHEV) comparison is that a mild hybrid recharges via regenerative braking. PHEV models use regenerative braking, too, but the real difference, as the name suggests, is that you can plug one into a charging station to recharge the battery directly.

The next difference is that both the battery and electric motor are typically far larger in a PHEV. That's because they aren't only there to lend assistance but can also take over completely to allow for all-electric driving capabilities. With that larger motor/battery size comes more horsepower, and not only does a PHEV achieve excellent efficiency during normal driving conditions, it also achieves thrilling performance to boot.

Take a look at Volvo plug-in hybrid vehicles like a 2022 XC60 Recharge; 400 horsepower and a 0-60 mph sprint of just 5 seconds is nothing to sniff at.

So overall, you can think of PHEVs as your option for great efficiency, convenience, and performance, often coming with standard all-wheel drive thanks to the motor/engine layout and often giving the top horsepower of the vehicle range. With plug-in charging at home or at a public charging station, they're also a worry-free option.

What is Volvo Pure Electric?

Take the benefits of an electric motor and leave out the gas engine. Vehicles like a Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric for sale use a much larger battery and motor than a hybrid, and that's because they're what drives you forward.

Principles like regenerative braking are used to significant effect with Pure Electric, and so are the plug-in charging capabilities. But an all-electric vehicle has a major difference. A gas engine powers many systems, like air conditioning, so an all-electric vehicle must find ways around that. They're engineered from the ground up to only use electric power, and that means the linear power delivery of an electric motor gets to shine at its brightest.

An XC60 Recharge PHEV makes 400 horsepower and does 0-60 in 5 seconds; an XC40 Recharge Pure Electric makes 402 horsepower and does 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. That power hits the moment you press the accelerator pedal for SUV thrills like none other. The power also hits with a long-range punch, optimized with that larger battery to deliver the utmost in range — often up to 10 times more than a PHEV's all-electric driving range.

Moves Fast and Charges Fast

As well, the fast-charging capabilities of Volvo vehicles are at their highest with these advanced batteries, letting you charge your XC40 Pure Electric from an empty battery to 80% charged in around 33 minutes at a DC fast charging station.1

That's the gist of the comparison; Pure Electric steps up with the largest battery and motor to deliver the greatest all-electric range, charging capabilities, and power, all without any emissions whatsoever. Hybrids, meanwhile, help gas engines achieve their greatest efficiency and can give all-electric driving capabilities, albeit for short periods at a time.

Electric vs. Hybrid: Learn More at Quantrell Volvo

The seat-shoving force of all-electric acceleration is like something out of science fiction. The fuel efficiency a PHEV can achieve is also beyond belief. Whichever you prefer, we're here to help you experience it to its fullest. Contact us, and stop by today to test-drive the attractive, eco-friendly range of Volvo Pure Electric and hybrid vehicles today.


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1Fast charging DC up to 150 kW under optimal charging conditions. Charging times are dependent on factors such as outdoor temperature, current battery temperature, charging equipment, battery condition and car condition.