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
|Type||Electric vehicle||Electric and gasoline hybrid vehicle|
|Average Cost||$56,000 to $66,000||$23,000 to $69,000|
|Average Range||100 to 400 miles per full charge||Varies, similar to traditional cars|
|Charging Time||1 hour to 50 hours||Typically 5 to 6 hours|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Have a nice day Photo/Shutterstock.com.