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Hybrid vs. Electric Cars: How to Choose the Right Vehicle for You

Jun 05, 2024 - 3 minute read

Hybrid vs Electric Car

Which Green Vehicle Should You Choose?

When exploring the wide selection of eco-friendly vehicles on the market, you’ll find a few options when deciding how that car or truck is electrically powered. In the EV revolution age, automotive manufacturers prioritize building cost-effective EVs with low to zero emissions output, which fit various needs and lifestyles. These choices include hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric power options, each serving different purposes and benefits that meet the unique needs of drivers today. Many drivers get caught up in weighing their options between hybrid vs. electric cars, often without fully knowing the differences between them. Aschenbach Automotive Group offers a broad range of electric and hybrid vehicle options at our dealerships, promising you professional service when assisting in your search for a new planet-conscious vehicle.

What is the Difference Between Hybrid and Electric Cars?

To help you navigate this new sustainable environment and compare hybrids vs. electric cars, let’s break down the differences between each:

Hybrid

These vehicles are powered by the synergistic combination of one or more electric motors powered by a battery and an internal combustion engine. To generate electric power, hybrids rely on regenerative braking and the engine. In mild hybrids, also called micro hybrids, the battery and electric motor work together, allowing the engine to shut off while the vehicle is stopped at a traffic light or in traffic, relying on the battery. Full hybrids rely on larger batteries and electric motors, which can depend on electricity for short periods of time at low speeds.

Plug-In Hybrid

Plug-in hybrids, also known as PHEVs, also rely on electric motors and an internal combustion engine; however, they also require a connection to a power source, either through a wall outlet or charging equipment, to charge the battery. Additionally, plug-in hybrids generally can charge off the engine and through regenerative braking, in the same way that standard hybrids allow. Once the battery is depleted, PHEVs will rely on the engine, so keeping the battery charged is essential to continue reaping the benefits of zero-emissions driving. 

Electric

All-electric vehicles, sometimes called EVs or battery-powered electric vehicles (BHEVs), rely entirely on a large traction battery pack and an electric motor to generate power. This requires drivers to have a charging hookup at their house or the ability to charge their vehicle at a nearby charging station to regenerate battery life. EVs create zero local emissions, meaning there’s no need for the presence of a fuel pump, fuel line, or fuel tank in the vehicle’s design.

Hybrid vs. Electric Cars: Pros and Cons

When choosing the right vehicle for your needs, no one-size-fits-all choice exists, as what works for you personally may not work as effectively for someone else. Now that we’ve explored the differences between hybrids vs. electric cars by detailing exactly what separates them from each other definitively, let’s lay out the pros and cons to provide a well-rounded approach to deciding which vehicle might work best for your life.

Hybrids

  • Pros: 

    • A wide selection of hybrid vehicles currently exist on the market, so there are plenty of models to choose from at all price points

    • Give you the best of high fuel economy and low tailpipe emissions

    • Have the range of any non-electric vehicle, so there’s no range anxiety

  • Cons: 

    • May cost more than non-electric cars, but will often cost significantly less for gas

Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV): 

  • Pros: 

    • Lower cost for operation and fuel usage, as it relies on energy from the grid

    • If primarily relying on an all-electric mode and sourcing from a low-emissions electricity source, the PHEV’s emissions will be lower

    • Able to benefit from tax incentives, possibly qualifying for up to several thousand dollars in tax credits

    • While not common, some non-electric vehicles can be converted into PHEVs in aftermarket

    • Can operate at the same performance and emissions level as a hybrid vehicle if never charged

  • Cons: 

    • Often may be more expensive than hybrid and non-electric cars, though this may be made up for with tax credits and fuel savings

Electric:

  • Pros:

    • New models, better charging equipment, higher energy batteries, and infrastructure are continuously improving to make the world more convenient and efficient for fully electric vehicles

    • Efficient for city travel – more stops equals higher frequency use of regenerative braking

    • High-value federal and state tax incentives to offset the cost of an all-electric vehicle, saving you thousands of dollars during the buying process

    • Zero local emissions

  • Cons: 

    • Have a shorter driving range than non-electric vehicles and hybrids

    • May be less efficient on extremely hot or cold days; the range is reduced by running A/C and heater to warm and cool the cabin

    • Not very efficient on highways – drag results in more energy usage at higher speeds

    • Acceleration, hauling, and driving up steep inclines can require more power, reducing the available range 

    • Often more expensive than other options, though this may balance out from not being required to buy gas or through government incentives

Are Hybrid Cars More Expensive Than Electric Cars?

Given that there are currently more varied choices and selections available for hybrid vs. electric cars, they are significantly more affordable than electric cars in many cases due to abundance and time on the market. However, there are several factors that play into the range and whether a hybrid car would be a more affordable option than an electric car, as determined by your personal circumstances:

  • Do you live somewhere with extreme temperatures? If you live in areas where the temperatures tend to swing in either an extremely hot or extremely cold direction, a hybrid vehicle may be a better fit for you. Extreme temperatures can reduce range in electric vehicles, increasing the cost of charging. When weighing out the difference between hybrid vs. electric cars, determine the climate the car will regularly be exposed to, then move on to consider the other factors that may impact your decision.

  • Do you live in an urban, suburban, or rural location? Cities are havens for electric cars, often providing a wide selection of charging station options, plenty of stops for regenerative braking to kick in, priority parking, and local incentives for owning an EV. Hybrids also thrive in cities, making either ideal for city-dwelling drivers looking to save money and the planet. As for suburban and rural locations, support for electric cars may not yet be available or affordable, as there may be a lack in the presence of charging stations. Additionally, longer distances are not ideal for extending the vehicle’s range, and may cost more for charging in the long term.

  • Do you need to haul heavy objects regularly? While the haul-ready SUV and pickup truck EV market is steadily improving, you may need to closely weigh out personal needs with the need for hauling capability. Hauling can decrease range; however, some pickup EVs can currently haul as much as 10,000 lbs., meaning that while they may lose charge with use, they can still tow nearly as heavy as conventional counterparts and maybe be just as affordable and practical depending on the regular need and use. 

Live Electrically and Drive Confidently

Now that we’ve explored the variety of factors differentiating hybrid vs. electric cars, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your needs and lifestyle. While making the actual decision can be difficult, our professionals are on standby waiting to assist you through the car buying process and work with you to determine your perfect fit. At Aschenbach Automotive Group, we guarantee top-quality service and expert guidance to ensure our customers always drive away satisfied.

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