Hybrid vs electric car: what's the difference?
On the lookout for a new, clean air vehicle?
With global calls for a cut in carbon emissions from new cars, the US is looking to ban 100% internal combustible engine (ICE) car sales by 2040.
But some states like New York and California have a much more aggressive 2030 deadline.
So, if you live in one of these states and are shopping for new wheels, you might want to check out alternatives to make the most out of your investment.
Luckily, there are hybrid and electric vehicles in the market now that can go pound for pound against the latest ICE vehicles.
So, which one is right for you?
Electric cars: pros and cons
Fully electric cars are powered by a battery pack and an electric motor.
This means that EV owners can skip the trips to the gas station and save money on fuel costs in the long run.
Purchasing a new electric vehicle also entitles you to federal tax incentives worth $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the car’s battery capacity.
Meanwhile, buyers of used EVs can claim up to $4,000 or 30% of the sale price.
But the main benefit of having a car that solely relies on electric power is reduction of tailpipe emissions.
Electric vehicles have a fewer number of moving parts as compared to conventional gas powered cars, which means more savings on maintenance costs.
While EVs are promising, the technology is relatively new and lacks some of the features gas powered cars have, specifically, driving range.
Cases of range anxiety, or the fear of not having enough range, is a common occurrence among EV drivers.
Unlike gasoline stations that can be found in almost every block, EV charging stations could be few and far between in some areas, which explains why prospective car owners are still on the fence about getting an EV.
Yes, charging electric car batteries at home is possible with a Level 2 charger, but convenient for those living in multi-family buildings like apartments and condos.
PHEV vs EV: what’s the difference?
Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) are gasoline-powered hybrid vehicles with a battery that can be recharged using an external power source.
A plug-in hybrid car works just like an electric vehicle, but has a reserved gasoline engine that kicks in once the battery runs down.
Nope, PHEVs don't use the two power sources at the same time.
They use battery power as the main driving force, only relying on the gasoline powered engine when the battery pack is low on charge.
This system ensures plug-in hybrid cars get continuous operating power, much like the regular gasoline hybrid vehicle.
PHEVs also use regenerative braking to save fuel - which means energy is extracted while braking and can be used to power the vehicle.
On the other hand, fully electric vehicles have much larger battery packs and more powerful electric motors that can produce enough range and performance without needing a gas-powered engine as a back-up power source.
What is a hybrid car?
A regular hybrid vehicle is 100% gasoline-fueled but doesn't rely on the gas engine alone to operate.
Hybrids have electric motors that power the car to "delay" the use of combustion engines for better fuel efficiency.
Sometimes, both power sources work in sync to produce greater power which bigger vehicles could require.
Essentially, the electric motor serves a generator when you step on the brake.
The energy produced during braking is then stored in a small battery, giving you extra power when you accelerate from rest.
What is a plug-in hybrid?
As previously mentioned, plug-in hybrids make use of the best of both hybrid and electric cars.
PHEVs have a gas tank like regular hybrids, and rechargeable battery packs like all electric vehicles.
As the name suggests, plug-ins can be plugged into a charging station, but it also has a gas tank that functions as a backup energy source.
Once the charge of the batteries run out, the gas engine takes over to allow continuous use of the PHEV.
Does it make sense to buy a plug-in hybrid?
Technically plug-ins still use fossil fuels, but if you're coming from driving a regular, gas-powered car and looking to making the switch to an electrified vehicle, trying a plug-in hybrid could be a great way to test the waters.
It's understandable that transitioning to a fully electric vehicle could be challenging, especially if you've owned a gas car your whole life.
While range has improved dramatically in electric cars in recent years, they don't yet have the same range as ICE vehicles.
But plug-ins can promise longer trips since they use both battery and gas to operate.
Types of hybrid cars
There are 4 main types of hybrid cars:
Mild Hybrids - these hybrid cars work without having to be plugged in. Instead, the batteries are recharged using power from the gasoline engine and the energy generated from regenerative braking.
Full Hybrids - these hybrids have an electrical component capable of carrying more workload than mild hybrids. In fact, full hybrids can operate solely on battery power for some distance. This type of hybrid is further divided into two categories: parallel ands series. Parallel hybrids can draw power from the gas engine, electric motor, or from both sources. Meanwhile, series hybrids rely solely on the electric motor, which is powered by the gas engine.
Plug-in Hybrids - these plug-ins use battery power as the main driving force, only relying on the gasoline powered engine when the battery pack is low on charge.
EVs with Range Extender - technically, an all-electric vehicle doesn't count as a hybrid since once it runs out of battery, your only choice is to plug it in to the nearest charging station. However, range extender hybrids use a gasoline engine to charge the battery or keep the electric motor running, so you don't end up stranded in the middle of the road.
Is there a tax credit for electric cars?
Yes, the federal government has allocated state tax incentives for electric cars. For new EVs, buyers can expect between $2,500 and $7,500 of tax credits, depending on the car’s battery capacity. Meanwhile, buyers of used EVs can claim up to $4,000 state tax credits or 30% of the sale price.
What's the environmental impact of hybrid vs electric cars?
Hybrid cars still make use of internal combustion engines that burn gasoline, which means they still emit some gas and add to your carbon footprint. Electric cars have no tailpipe emissions and can be charged using greener energy sources like oil, natural gas, and even solar power.
Is hybrid or electric better?
This will depend on your driving needs and driving habits. While electric vehicles are energy efficient, they have a relatively shorter range than hybrids. So, if you regularly travel long distances, you might be better off with a hybrid. However, with the current fuel economy, owning an EV means lower operating costs and more savings in the long run.
What is the downside of a hybrid car?
The major downside of driving a hybrid car is that it still uses fossil fuels and emits harmful gas.
Do hybrid cars last longer than electric cars?
Since hybrid cars are essentially just internal combustion engine cars, they have more moving parts than electric cars. Which means more parts to maintain and more maintenance costs incurred throughout its lifetime.
Is it cheaper to own a hybrid or an electric car?
Though cost differences are small, owning an electric car is still cheaper than owning a hybrid. On maintenance costs alone, hybrids don't differ much from a regular ICE car, which is already significantly costlier to maintain than an EV.
What are 3 drawbacks of a hybrid electric vehicle?
Compared to fully electric cars, hybrids are not as energy efficient. They also need a regular oil change and maintenance checks on moving parts. Lastly, hybrids don't have the same smoothness and silence of EVs.
What is the major difference between a hybrid car and an electric car?
The major difference is the power source. Hybrids are 100% gas-powered with a backup electric motor. Electric cars rely solely on batteries.