Electric vs Hybrid Cars: Which Is Best for You?
As the world grapples with the effects of climate change, the need for sustainable transportation has emerged. As a result, the motor vehicle industry is shifting towards electric and hybrid cars to reduce carbon emissions and decrease reliance on fossil fuels.
As the world grapples with the effects of climate change, the need for sustainable transportation has emerged. As a result, the motor vehicle industry is shifting towards electric and hybrid cars to reduce carbon emissions and decrease reliance on fossil fuels. With that said, if you are looking to buy a car, you might wonder which of the two is best for you.
The main difference between an electric and a hybrid car is how they are powered. However, both cars have advantages and a downside. Below, we'll compare electric and hybrid cars to help you determine which option is best suited for you.
What are electric cars?
Electric cars are also known as electric vehicles (EVs). They are powered solely by electric motors and use rechargeable battery packs as their primary energy source. Unlike hybrid cars, electric cars do not have an internal combustion engine and do not require any gasoline or diesel fuel to operate.
While the popularity of electric vehicles has blown up in the last decade, this is not a new concept. In fact, Robert Anderson made the first crude electric vehicle in 1832, but it was not until the 1890s that EVs became practical.
However, because the world is more focused on combustion-engine cars, EVs still present some challenges that need to be overcome. To understand EVs better, here are basic things you need to know;
Battery range is how far you can drive a fully charged EV (100%) until the battery is empty. To help you comprehend this, let's use a combustion engine car as an example. On average, a petrol vehicle can cover 400 to 500 miles on a tank of petrol, and a diesel car 600 to 700 miles. For electric cars, this reduces to 200 to 300 miles.
But how bad is this? Not bad. Data from the Department of Transport indicates that an average driver in the US covers 37 miles per day. This means you can go for 5 to 8 days before depleting your battery charge unless you are a long-distance driver.
The battery is the most crucial part of an EV and costs a hefty amount to replace. If your EV is no longer under warranty or the battery is damaged in a road accident, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $20,000 out of pocket. However, this largely depends on the pack, size and battery manufacturer. So, you are right to be worried about how long it will last.
Most EV manufacturers say the battery can last 10 to 20 years or 150,000 miles. However, if you are a good driver with careful charging habits, the battery could last longer than this. This should not worry you much because most EV battery warranties are about eight years and 100,000 miles. If the maximum battery capacity drops below 70%, they will repair or replace it.
While it's easy to drive to a gas station and get fuel within 5 minutes, you don't have the same advantage with an electric car. EV charging takes about half an hour to an hour with the public rapid chargers and up to 24 hours with a standard domestic charger. Although the infrastructure is rapidly improving, it will take several years to be convenient for everyone.
So, what should you do? If you live in an apartment or condo, your only option is the public charging stations. However, if you live in a house, you can buy and install a home charging unit. Depending on the type, it can charge 20 to 35 miles per hour, costing between $300 and $700.
Alternatively, you could charge using the cable that comes with the car, but it takes time. With a 120-V outlet, it could take up to 24 hours to fully charge, and about 10 hours with a 240-V outlet.
Cost of buying and maintaining an EV
EVs are pretty expensive. The average cost of buying an EV in the US in August 2023 was $53,376. However, it's important to note that this cost is continuously decreasing and could be much cheaper in the coming years. Moreover, EVs have fewer moving parts, meaning they need less maintenance. However, parts cost more to repair and replace.
Pros of electric cars
- Zero tailpipe emissions. They are ideal if you want to reduce your carbon footprint.
- EVs are quiet without the noise associated with internal combustion engines.
- Low maintenance cost due to fewer moving parts
- The cost of charging is cheaper than gas
- Government incentives - governments are giving incentives to encourage people to buy EVs.
Cons of electric cars
- Cost - buying an EV is costly, but you should check if your country or state has government incentives that could lower the price.
- Limited range - electric cars might cause challenges if you drive long distances or you live in an area with no charging infrastructure.
- Longer charging time is required.
What are hybrid cars?
Hybrid cars combine internal combustion engines and electric motors. This makes them a bridge between traditional gasoline-powered vehicles and fully electric cars. Hybrid cars have a smaller battery pack than electric cars. They can be charged by the internal combustion engine or through regenerative braking, which converts kinetic energy into electric energy to recharge the battery.
The defining feature of hybrid cars is their ability to switch between the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, depending on the driving conditions and power needs. This allows hybrid vehicles to optimize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, making them more sustainable than conventional cars.
There are three types of hybrid cars;
- Mild hybrid
- Self-charging hybrid
- Plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Pros of Hybrid Cars
- Increased range compared to EVs
- You can fuel at a gas station
- Hybrid vehicles are more powerful than their gas-powered equivalent
- Lower emissions compared to petrol and diesel-powered vehicles.
- Less maintenance compared to gas-powered cars
Cons of Hybrid Cars
- Higher upfront cost compared to regular vehicles
- Parts are expensive to repair or replace
- Although little, they still produce exhaust emissions when running on gasoline.
Electric vs hybrid cars: which is better
The best car between an electric and a hybrid vehicle will come down to your specific needs. You need to weigh the advantages and drawbacks of each type of car to see what will work for you. Here are factors to consider;
- How much are you willing to pay for the car? An EV will cost more compared to a hybrid, so the latter is better if your budget is tight. Keep in mind the cost of a hybrid car is still above that of a regular vehicle.
- How far do you travel per day? If you travel more than 300 miles daily, an EV might not be a good option. In this case, you should consider a hybrid.
- Charging infrastructure - can you access a charging station, or can you afford a home charging unit? If the answer is no, go for a hybrid because you can quickly fuel at a gas station.
- Do you want a car with zero exhaust emissions? If yes, an EV is best.
Both electric vehicles and hybrid cars are great if you want to reduce your carbon footprint. Moreover, as the government aims to end the manufacture of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 to lower carbon emissions, you could be doing your part in ensuring this happens. However, don't rush to make the decision. Consider all factors carefully so that you don't regret it in the long run.
That said, like with a standard fuel car, the most effective way to buy an electric or hybrid car is by taking out an auto loan. Are you looking to finance your next electric or hybrid car? Get up to 4 offers in a minute.