ELECTRIC OR HYBRID CAR

Electric or Hybrid: Pros and Cons

Electric or Hybrid Cars: Pros and Cons

Let’s talk numbers. The second largest source of CO2 emissions in the US is the combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel in the transportation of people and goods. This includes fuel used in highway vehicles, air travel, marine transportation, and rail. It accounts for approximately thirty one percent (31%) of total US CO2 emissions and twenty six percent (26%) of total US greenhouse gas emissions in 2013.

 

With an increasing number of Americans becoming more conscious of the impact they have on the environment, eco friendly vehicles are offering an attractive alternative to gas powered cars.

Electric or Hybrids? What options are available in the market?  

 

Electric Vehicles. These vehicles rely on electric power alone. They have no backup engine that kick in when the batteries run out. Because they do not have a gas engine and therefore have more room for batteries, they offer a longer distance range than plug-in hybrids. (More on this later). Popular examples of these are the Ford Focus Electric, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S.

 

Hybrid Cars. As the name suggests, hybrids are vehicles that rely on 2 power sources - electric and gasoline. Because they rely partly on an electric motor for power, they do not use as much fuel. There are three different kinds of hybrids

 

  • Full Hybrids use a gasoline powered internal combustion engine and an electric motor together that maximize the energy that is normally lost during braking. This energy is stored in a battery pack that provides the power for the vehicle to run on. The batteries are constantly charged while the vehicle is in motion. A full hybrid vehicle could either be a series hybrid or a parallel hybrid.

    

A series hybrid has an electric motor that handles all the driving while the gasoline engine charges the battery pack. On trips beyond 50 miles or so, the gasoline takes over and provides the power.

 

In a parallel hybrid, the conventional internal combustion engine and the electric engine are attached to one transmission and it allows both of them to power the car at the same time. The engine draws fuel from the tank while a generator charges the batteries. This type of hybrid is   more suitable for travelling long distances.

 

  • Mild Hybrids. A mild hybrid is similar to a parallel hybrid but is typically less efficient because though it has a battery and a helper motor, they do not fully take over. They are not powerful enough to propel the car without the gas engine also doing the work at the same time. The electric motor assists the gas engine when more power is needed. When the car begins to slow down or is stopped, the control unit shuts down the engine so the vehicle does produce any emission. As the car is put in gear, the battery starts the motor again.

 

  • Plug in Hybrids also known as plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) gets most of its power from electrical energy stored in the car’s batteries. Most of these have the technology of full hybrids but they have larger batteries. As the name implies, these can be plugged into the grid and charged. Their larger batteries also mean an increased supply of on-board source of electricity and this will allow them to run in all electric mode. It varies from vehicle to vehicle but some may run for 14 miles to 38 miles per charge.

Electric Car vs Hybrid vs Gas: The Pros and Cons

 

Reducing the carbon footprint is the most obvious reason why people opt to buy electric or hybrid cars. But are there other advantages to going green? What are the drawbacks when going eco friendly?

Electric Cars

Pros:

  • Electric cars benefit the environment the most since they use no fossil fuel at all. This scores big points in terms of impact to environment.

  • Electric cars help owners save more money, mostly because they do not need to buy fuel. Gas cars cost $1,500 a year to fuel vs $421 to charge an electric car

  • Additionally, savings come from $7,500 federal tax credit provided to electric car owners.

  • Electric car owners also benefit from state incentives in the form of cash rebates, state income tax credits or sales tax waivers. California, in particular, has a $2,500 Clean Vehicle Rebate for a brand new Nissan Leaf, a compact hatchback that runs 100% on electricity.

  • Other state incentives are utility-rate reductions, free parking in metered spots and the luxury of being able to drive in high occupancy vehicle lanes without passengers.

  • Electric cars have lower maintenance costs because there are fewer moving parts

 

Cons:

 

  • The largest drawback would be the range. Most electric vehicles can run for only 60 to 70 miles on a charge. An exception would be the Tesla Model S which can travel for over 150 miles between charges. Those with longer commutes may want to consider hybrids. (It is worth mentioning, however, that studies show that the average American travel less than 40 miles a day. For everyday driving, an electric car is a most viable transport option.)

  • The availability of public charging stations is sometimes a challenge

  • Added cost of in-home charging of $500 to $2,000

 

Hybrid Cars​

Pros:

 

  • As already discussed above, hybrid cars offer range. A plug-in hybrid can travel 30 to 40 miles on fully electric power, plus an extra 200 to 300 miles on gasoline. Owners enjoy the efficiency of an electric vehicle for city or short range driving but have the option to take it on the road for longer trips.

  • Hybrid cars, compared to gas cars, have lower emissions and have better gas mileage.

  • As with electric cars, state and federal incentives are given to those who opt for hybrids.

  • In its lifetime, a hybrid car can offer savings of $8,000 on fuel. As compared to a gas powered car which will consume approximately 6,100 gallons of gas during its lifetime, a hybrid car will consume only 3,300 gallons.

 

Cons:

 

  • Compared to electric cars, there are fewer options available as more auto manufacturers are focusing on fully electric vehicles. This is because more drivers are increasingly looking for cars that use no fuel and impact the environment the least.

  • Hybrids have low power output simply because they were designed for economy rather than speed.

  • Hybrids, compared to traditional gas cars also suffer from poorer handling because of its weight. Manufacturers aim for fuel efficiency, so they tended to cut weight on hybrids.

  • Compared to gas cars, hybrid cars cost considerably greater. In many cases, hybrid cars cost $5,000 to $10,000 more than standard vehicles

  • Higher maintenance cost is another drawback. Because of the complex dual compulsion system of hybrids, not all mechanics are trained or equipped to repair them resulting in higher repair costs.

 

So, what are your thoughts? Which way will you go?

Tags: electric cars, hybrid car, gas prices, economy, mileage, cost savings

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