There are six basic types of propulsion systems for current and near-future vehicles – here's how to tell them apart.
Internal combustion power. Example: The vast majority of vehicles on the road. Powered by an internal combustion engine that burns gasoline, ethanol, diesel fuel or compressed natural gas.
Full hybrid. Example: Toyota Prius. Uses a regular gasoline engine, as well as a battery-powered electric engine. The electric engine can, at low speeds, move the vehicle along on its own, with the gasoline engine turned off.
Partial hybrid. Example: Honda Insight. Like a full hybrid, but the electric engine can't propel the car on its own. A partial hybrid is usually lighter, simpler and less expensive than a full hybrid, but gets lower fuel mileage.
Plug-in hybrid. Example: The upcoming Toyota Prius plug-in. Works like a regular hybrid, but for extra battery life, you can plug it in to household current.
Electric vehicle. Example: Nissan Leaf. Runs purely on battery power, has no gasoline engine.
Extended-range electric vehicle. Example: Chevrolet Volt. Runs on battery power like a regular electric, but has an on-board gasoline engine to generate electricity when the batteries run down.
Source Orlando Sentinel