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Our constantly evolving modern world, especially the Western world, could not exist without electricity. The still-dawning digital age wouldn’t have occurred without it.

Not 20 years ago, reading a book meant reading a paper book. Now, three out of every ten Americans read ebooks on digital devices. Electricity is constantly evolving transportation methods, too. If you had to pick between EVs and hybrid vehicles, how would you choose?

Even though the Jetsons cartoon flirtatiously promised us flying cars back in 1962, that transportation dream has to materialize on a realistic scale. It looks like the public will just have to settle for the electric vehicle revolution that has steadily expanded in recent decades. And, it seems like we are slowly but surely moving that way!

In 2020, there were over 10 million EVs traversing roadways globally. Car registrations for EVs surged by 41% in that same year. Even government agencies are converting to EVs. The United States Post Office recently pledged that over 70% of its vehicles will be EVs within the next ten years.

But, there are levels to EV ownership. About three times as many people will think about buying a hybrid as opposed to an EV. Why is that? What are the real-world pros and cons of EVs and hybrid vehicles?

Let’s get into it below!

EVs vs. Hybrid Vehicles: A Side-by-Side Comparison

EVHybrid
Type Electric vehicleElectric and gasoline hybrid vehicle
Average Cost$56,000 to $66,000 $23,000 to $69,000
Average Range100 to 400 miles per full chargeVaries, similar to traditional cars
Charging Time1 hour to 50 hours Typically 5 to 6 hours
Federal Rebates?YesYes

EVs vs. Hybrid Vehicles: What’s the Difference?

EVs and hybrid vehicles may sound like intimidating transportation technologies to consider, but they are much easier to understand than they may come across. 

An electric vehicle does not contain an internal combustion engine and does not require gasoline to operate. All you have to do to power an EV is to plug it into a public charging station or even a home outlet.

Hybrid vehicles contain an internal combustion engine and an electric engine that work in tandem or individually, depending on road conditions. The hybrid is the closest in the operational structure of the two vehicles to a traditional car. 

Let’s break down the key differences between hybrid cars and electric vehicles to give you the full picture.

Engine Efficiencies

To properly assess the differences, efficiencies, and inefficiencies between EVs and hybrid vehicles, let’s first briefly discuss how the internal combustion engine operates. 

It’s best to think of a traditional combustion engine as an overly complicated air pump that optimizes small-scale explosions that creates energy which is then converted into motion. The spark ignition for gasoline engines features a fixed cylinder within the engine block that is connected to moving pistons. Fuel vapors mixed with air are sprayed into the cylinder, compressed by the piston, and ignited by a spark which then causes combustion.

This combustion-derived energy turns gears, and the crankshaft, and powers the motion of the vehicle. The process is a lot more complicated, but that is the gist of it.

However, internal combustion engines are notoriously inefficient. They are about 20% efficient under the best of circumstances, usually. That means that up to 80% of the energy produced could be lost as heat or wasted and never used to propel the vehicle.

The EV engine is complicated but simpler in operation than the traditional engine. Imagine two crescent-shaped magnets of opposing polarities forming a shaft in which electromagnets are housed as a rotor shaft. The electromagnets regularly reverse polarities, which creates repelling forces that are converted into electricity. The electricity is converted into torque, which powers the vehicle.

EV engines are noiseless since they don’t require gasoline or combustion for operation. EV engines don’t produce exhaust and pollute the environment like fossil fuel engines. Instead of a gas tank, EVs have a battery. Additionally, EVs don’t require the traditional regular maintenance checkups of fossil fuel cars, whose many moving parts wear down regularly.

Plus, they are more efficient than traditional engines. An EV engine is about 60% energy-efficient. That means only 40% of the energy created in an EV engine is lost or wasted. 

A hybrid engine is a bonding of a traditional fossil fuel engine and an electric engine. The electric engine can power all of the functions of the car that don’t involve a motion to save energy. The gas engine can be used during high-speed driving while the electric engine can be used at slower speeds, or, both engines can be used to save on gasoline.

Hybrid cars feature regenerative braking. In other words, electricity is generated every time the vehicle brakes. With regenerative braking, a hybrid car is about 77% efficient. That means that less than 23% of the energy produced in a hybrid engine is lost or wasted.

Maintenance Costs

The average monthly cost to power an EV is $59 a month

The average cost of owning a traditional car is $900 monthly, or about $11,000 annually, depending on the size, model, and how often you use it. Since hybrid vehicles contain fewer moving parts than traditional cars, your annual and lifetime ownership costs can reduce by a third or even half

However, these cost reductions don’t happen on their own. You need to consider how often you drive, your typical routes, and the gas mileage of the vehicle. The lower the price of gas, the more cost-efficient a hybrid becomes over the long term.

Up-Front Costs

Unless you invest in a compact or small-sized EV, the average cost of an EV is $56,000. Even for people interested in buying an EV, the upfront costs are prohibitive for many.

The average price of a hybrid regularly matches those of a traditional new or used car. So, if you can afford a traditional car, you afford to buy a hybrid.

2023 BMW i7 vs 2023 Lucid Air Pure
Hybrid cars are cheaper than EVs by way of upfront costs, but both save you quite a bit of money annually.

©DigitalPen/Shutterstock.com

Range

Until the charging infrastructure for EVs is improved, you’ll probably drive further in a hybrid than an EV.

The average range of an EV is 100 to 400 miles on a charged battery. However, that is a generalized estimate. Not many EVs will get you 400 miles on a charge. The average range of an EV is usually 217 miles per single charge. Theoretically, an EV should be able to go 520 miles per single charge, but this is not always a given. 

Consider that there are about 53,000 EV charging stations in the United States, while there are over 145,000 traditional gasoline stations in the country.

It could take four hours to two days to fully charge an EV. You would need to identify every charging station on a road trip and make time for charging. 

A hybrid can gas up in minutes at any gas station and charge its battery during a loading stop.

EVs vs. Hybrid Vehicles: 6 Must-Know Facts

  • 3% of annual car sales are EVs, and 5% of annual car sales are hybrids.
  • Drivers are twice as likely to buy a hybrid compared to an EV.
  • EVs are 100% eco-friendly, much more so than hybrids.
  • Hybrids are cheaper over the long term than EVs.
  • The battery is the most vital and expensive component in an EV.
  • The average hybrid has a fuel economy of 35 to 45 MPH.

EVs vs. Hybrid Vehicles: Which One is Better for You?

So, as an eco-friendly driver who wants to save money, should you choose an EV or hybrid car?

You will save more money on a hybrid in the long term compared to the upfront costs of buying an electric car, but an EV still saves you thousands annually.

Due to the still-growing infrastructure of EV charging stations, you will more than likely drive farther in a hybrid than an EV without needing to stop for a charge.

You will have to adapt to a noiseless EV vehicle with vastly different maintenance needs than a traditional vehicle or a hybrid because a hybrid vehicle is still half a fossil fuel vehicle.

We recommend getting a hybrid vehicle if you are in the market. It is a cheaper purchase in the long run compared to an EV and can act as a relatively eco-friendly transition vehicle if you ever decide to purchase an EV in the future.

EVs vs. Hybrid Vehicles: What are the Real World Pros and Cons? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Why didn’t the EV or hybrid vehicle revolution happen in the 19th or early 20th century?

No expansive EV or hybrid infrastructure existed in the 19th or early 20th century. Such electricity-based transportation charging infrastructures are still being built now.

The transportation infrastructure of the world has been running on oil since 1859 when the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania. The world has been running on oil ever since. Until a reliable and globally-reaching EV transportation and charging infrastructure replaces the current fossil fuel infrastructure, the EV revolution will continue expanding in the 21st century.

Are EV car batteries dangerous?

EV batteries can explode under certain circumstances, but it is not a constantly occurring problem. EV batteries can explode if they are damaged, defectively manufactured, or installed incorrectly.

An EV battery submerged in flood waters could explode via a short circuit, which is called a “thermal runaway” effect.

Unrecycled EV batteries are toxic to the environment and should never be thrown away in landfills.

How much does it cost to replace an EV battery?

EV batteries, also known as lithium-ion batteries, are the most vital and expensive component of an EV. They are intricately designed and contain precious rare-Earth minerals like nickel and cobalt. If you had to replace a large EV battery for a luxury model, it might set you back as much as $29,000.

What are the three types of hybrid vehicles?

There are three main kinds of hybrid vehicles: a full hybrid, a mild hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid.

A full hybrid has a gas and electric engine. Both engines can operate simultaneously or separately. The electric engine can be used for low speeds and short distances and power electrical functions to save gas.

A mild hybrid is more of a electrical assist vehicle. The electric engine is smaller or designed to reduce the operational load on the gas engine. It never fully operates as an EV.

Both full and mild hybrid feature regenerative braking, which generates electricity during braking. The gas engine also generates electricity for the electric engine. A full and mild hybrid vehicle cannot be plugged into a socket to recharge.

A plug-in hybrid has a larger EV-style battery and must be plugged in to charge.

Are EVs and hybrid vehicles really eco-friendly?

Yes, relatively speaking.

It is a good idea to find out if the electricity generated in your area is from renewable sources. About 19% of the electricity generated in the United States is derived from coal. 

 

 

How can I financially offset the upfront costs of buying an EV or hybrid?

Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for federal EV or hybrid-based tax rebates up to $7,500.  There are also many more alternative and renewable fuel tax rebates available at the city and municipal levels. You can find out more at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website for alternative fuel incentives.

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