The difference between electric cars and "electrified" cars has tripped up numerous reporters, carmakers, and analysts over the years.

Electric cars plug into the wall and power their wheels, partly or fully, with an electric motor running on energy from a battery pack.

"Electrified cars," on the other hand, include not only electric cars but any vehicle that has an electric motor providing any torque in its powertrain--which is to say, hybrids as well.

DON'T MISS: Plug-In Electric Car Sales In Nov: Leaf Grows, Volt Wanes

We sat up and opened our eyes when we saw a headline on a recent article on Electric Vehicle News saying that almost 10 percent of California's sales were now electric vehicles .

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

They're not; the headline should have said "electrified cars," because the numbers turned out to include battery-electric vehicles (1.5 percent), plug-in hybrids (1.7 percent) ... and conventional hybrids (6.4 percent).

Still, the data is interesting.

ALSO SEE: UPDATED: 2016 Chevrolet Volt To Launch In January: What We Know So Far

It points out that in the state that has by far the largest impact on green cars, Californian car buyers are now purchasing one car with a plug for every two hybrids.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

And that's in the state where the Toyota Prius hybrid is the best-selling car line among all non-truck passenger vehicles.

The data lends some credence to the notion that plug-in electric cars of all varieties may be usurping the role of hybrids as the greenest, most advanced-technology vehicles.

MORE: Most Popular Car Line In California? The Toyota Prius Hybrid--Again

After all, hybrids have been sold in the U.S. for more than 15 years now. They're maintaining about a 3-percent market share, although with gas prices falling, their sales are expected to decline.

2014 Tesla Model S in China

2014 Tesla Model S in China

But here's a little thought exercise: When will California's sales of battery-electric cars and plug-in hybrids together exceed those of hybrid-electric cars?

We wonder if market leader Toyota is pondering that exact same question right now.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.