What is the Average Cost of a Hybrid Car?

As the UK moves towards all-electric new vehicles, we will see a gradual phase-out of petrol, diesel and even hybrid cars over the coming decade — the bell tolls for sales of new hybrid vehicles in 2035 amid efforts to make all new UK road vehicles net-zero.

For now, hybrids remain a popular part of the British road vehicle fleet. ONS figures show that in 2021, 57% more hybrid vehicles were registered than in the previous year. A total of 264,000 hybrids were registered, more than the 195,000 new diesel cars that hit the road in 2021.

In the same year, average CO2 emissions from newly registered vehicles fell by 11%, an indication that the move towards hybrid cars, and eventually to fully electric vehicles, is starting to have an impact on exhaust emissions.

But with HEVs increasing in popularity while the countdown to 2035 is already underway, how much do these low-emission vehicles cost? Let’s take a look at some statistics.

 

What is a Hybrid Car?

First of all, let’s be clear about the definition of a hybrid electric vehicle, or HEV. There are actually several different types.

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)

Battery electric vehicles are NOT hybrids because they run solely on electricity, and do not have an alternative fuel source such as petrol or diesel. In order to be a hybrid, vehicles must have an internal combustion engine as well as a battery.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV)

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEV, have a combustion engine that runs on petrol or diesel, AND a battery that can be charged directly from the mains electricity supply by plugging in. 

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

Hybrid electric vehicles, or HEV, do not have a plug. They have an onboard battery that helps to power the vehicle, but this is recharged by the engine and using energy recovered during braking, rather than by plugging in. 

Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)

Conventional internal combustion engine (or ICE) vehicles have a 12-volt battery in the engine bay, but this is not used to power the drivetrain, and is only there for electrical systems like headlights, and to start the engine. As such, they are NOT hybrids. 

 

How Many Hybrid Cars Are Sold?

So now we know what we mean by a hybrid car (or a PHEV) we can look at the average prices paid by UK motorists for a new hybrid vehicle.

In 2021, the 264,000 new HEVs sold amounted to 16% of the market. Petrol is still by far the most popular choice at 54% (912,000 cars). Diesel and BEV are now almost neck-and-neck, with 195,000 (12%) diesel cars sold in 2021, only just more than the 190,000 (11%) BEVs. 

PHEVs contribute a significant market share of 7% (114,000 new PHEVs in 2021), while other fuel types, such as hydrogen fuel cells, add up to about 2,000 units or just 0.1% of sales. 

In the five years since 2016, ONS figures show:

  • Diesel car sales down 85%
  • Petrol car sales down 32%
  • PHEV sales up 329%
  • HEV sales up 411%
  • BEV sales up 1,726% 

Again, it’s clear to see in the data that the UK is racing towards net-zero vehicles and away from the most polluting ICEs.

 

How Much Do Hybrid Cars Cost?

So what are motorists paying for HEVs in the UK? In April 2022, the ONS responded to a Freedom of Information request that asked for “average car prices split between electric and hybrid, and petrol and diesel cars, in 2021”. 

According to the response, in 2021, the average price paid for petrol and diesel cars was £29,018, whereas the average upfront purchase price for hybrid and electric cars was £36,633. 

This echoes research published by the ONS in October 2021, which found a link between areas of the UK with higher disposable household income and higher levels of electric vehicle ownership. 

Upfront cost was a concern among motorists reluctant to switch to electric, with 70% citing it as the reason. Of the 20 UK areas with the highest electric vehicle ownership, 19 were in London, the East and the South. 

Yet cost is an even greater concern in London than anywhere else. Among Londoners who do not plan to switch to an electric vehicle in the next ten years, 83% said cost was the deciding factor.

 

What Are the Running Costs of Hybrid Cars?

As well as the upfront cost of the vehicle, there are also numerous running costs to consider, and this is where HEVs and PHEVs can start to tip the scales in their favour.

The October 2021 ONS research noted that the best-selling electric cars at the time would cost £3.94 to charge with an additional 100 miles of range, whereas ICEs would cost £9.45 to fuel with 100 miles of petrol.

This particular calculation depends on the unit price of electricity and the cost per litre of petrol at the pumps — both of which have changed wildly over the first half of 2022. However, in general, a plug-in vehicle is likely to be significantly cheaper to run than a fossil fuel car.

Although HEVs (as opposed to PHEVs) do not plug in, they can also benefit in other ways such as lower vehicle excise duty, more commonly known as road tax.

 

Try Before You Buy

The ONS reports that the upfront cost of electric vehicles vs conventional vehicles is expected to hit parity by 2030. By that time, BEVs should be around 13% cheaper to run than ICEs over their lifetime.

For motorists who want to gain familiarity with BEVs, PHEVs and HEVs during the current decade, leasing is an excellent option, giving you access to the newest technology, the best range and fuel economy, and confidence about lifetime running costs.

You can even arrange to have maintenance and repairs included in your leasing cost, so that you know you will not face an unexpected bill if something goes wrong with your vehicle.

The years ahead will only see UK roads shift increasingly towards an all-electric fleet — so if you want to drive a hybrid before they vanish forever, now’s the time.