When hybrid cars came on the scene in a big way in the early 2000s, they had the stage pretty much to themselves. Pure electric vehicles like the Zap Xebra were tiny little things with 40-mile ranges at best and a top speed somewhere near "pokey." The Tesla Roadster, with a range over 200 miles, didn't arrive on anyone's radar until 2008, and the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf came along in 2011. Fully electric cars, with not one drop of gasoline or an engine under the hood, were the territory of super nerds and early adopters.
Now there are dozens of EV models, from the futuristic BMW i3 to the Volkswagen e-Golf, which deliberately looks like every other Golf on the road. And there are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, like the Toyota Prius Prime and Chrysler Pacifica minivan. That's right — an electrified minivan. Every automotive brand on the planet has pledged to "electrify" its fleet in the next five to 10 years, which means more hybrids, PHEVs and EVs. So while hybrids will still be available and so far have stood the test of time, there are other, cleaner powertrains out there that are just as easy to live with.
Any vehicle running on electric power only, like an EV or a PHEV when the batteries are doing all the work, is getting the job done with zero emissions. Electric-only cars don't even have tailpipes.
Of course, electrified vehicles aren't for everyone. Read on to find out which situations might have you choosing an engine over a motor.