What’s Better for Me: EV or Hybrid?

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Choosing between an EV and a hybrid? Compare range, fuel efficiency, and maintenance to decide.

Electric vehicles are growing increasingly popular each year as people look for ways to save money on gas and help the environment. According to Statista, global electric car sales doubled in 2021, reaching 6.6 million, compared to 3 million in 2020, and less than 1 million in 2016. President Biden also announced recently that he wants at least 50% of U.S. car sales to be EVs by 2030.

But as of right now, are EVs the right choice for you, or is a hybrid car a more suitable option? Which one can provide you with a longer driving range? And will an electric vehicle or a hybrid save you more money in the long run? These are all important questions to ask before purchasing the type of car that’s right for you.

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What’s the Difference Between EVs and Hybrids?

Electric vehicles and regular hybrids are both known as environmentally-friendly cars. But there are some key differences that set them apart — most notably their power source.

Electric vehicles (EVs) ⁠— as you can probably already tell from the name ⁠— run exclusively on electricity. They have a battery that powers an electric motor, which then provides power for the entire car. This means that not only are gas station stops a thing of the past for EV owners, but they also won’t need to worry about oil changes or warming up their engines.

A hybrid vehicle, on the other hand, has both an electric motor and a gas engine. It takes advantage of regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine to help charge the battery pack. To put it simply, the engine charges the battery in hybrids while you drive. In turn,  the battery powers the car when you come to a stop or drive at slower speeds.

Though gasoline is still needed to power the engine in a hybrid vehicle, it’s far less than what’s required to fuel internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). This results in better fuel efficiency and fewer emissions. But still, because hybrid cars don’t fully run on electricity, it’s not as ecological and fuel-efficient as an EV.

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Pros and Cons of Electric Vehicles
EVs are becoming more popular each year, and for good reason. They offer a great driving experience, and produce zero emissions. But there are still some pros and cons to consider before buying one.

Pros

  • Lower maintenance costs due to fewer components
  • No tailpipe emissions
  • 100% green renewable energy sources
  • Reduced noise pollution
  • Smooth and immediate acceleration
Cons

  • Range anxiety for drivers traveling long distances
  • Long charging times
  • Higher purchase cost
  • Greater fuel costs compared to ICEVs or hybrids

Are Hybrids or EVs Better? 

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it seems. There are pros and cons to both types of vehicles, and the best option for you would generally depend on your specific needs, preferences, and driving behavior.

Battery range

When thinking about whether or not to go with a hybrid or an EV, driving range is probably one of the top factors that’ll influence your decision.

Since EVs are solely powered by electricity, you might be skeptical about how long you can drive until a pitstop is needed. But as EV battery technology continues to improve, many electric vehicles can now drive impressive distances with just one full charge.

One of the most popular examples is the Tesla Model 3. The standard model claims to deliver a driving range of 272 miles (438 km) while the Long Range version can even drive up to 358 miles (576km) before having to stop at a charging station. But of course, not all EVs can drive such long distances, so make sure to do your research.

For hybrid vehicles, electric range is much less of an issue. Hybrids are designed to run with gasoline in the tank, so it doesn’t operate on electric power alone. Instead, the battery supplements engine power. And even when the battery runs low, it can recharge using the gasoline-powered motor as a generator.

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Maintenance

Electric vehicles tend to be much cheaper to operate and maintain compared to other vehicle types because they don’t have many moving parts. There’s no engine, no transmission, and no spark plugs. By contrast, hybrids have all of those components, which means they require more frequent tune-ups and repairs. As a result, the long-term maintenance costs for hybrid vehicles are typically higher than electric vehicles.

Even though EVs can avoid maintenance costs associated with internal combustion engines: oil changes, fluid refills, belt replacements, etc. They could still incur expenses such as regular tire changes, insurance plans, and battery replacement costs.

Fuel cost 

Since hybrid cars are typically built with lighter material, this allows them to achieve better gas mileage than traditional gas-fueled cars. So let’s say you take a 300-mile road trip. A traditional car with 30 mpg will use up to 10 gallons of gas, whereas a hybrid with 35 mpg will only use up to 8.57 gallons.

Consumer Reports’ recent analysis also showed that the fuel savings on an efficient EV can actually help make up for its additional upfront cost in as little as two years — especially in a volatile global oil market. For example, they estimated that if you were to buy a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, a Honda CRV-Hybrid, or a Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, you can expect to see your money come back in two to three years — assuming that the gas price is $4 per gallon and you drive 12,000 miles per year.

Though EVs don’t need any gasoline to operate, there is still the cost of electricity. And contrary to popular belief, EVs aren’t actually cheaper than traditional cars in terms of fuel economy. In fact, a recent study by the Anderson Economic Group actually found the average cost per mile of an EV to be higher than that of an internal combustion engine car. This is mainly due to four hidden costs that are often neglected in other studies — expensive commercial electric power costs, charger installation costs, EV registration taxes, and deadhead miles.

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Incentives and rebates

Governments around the world have been incentivizing electric vehicles for years now to reduce carbon footprint and fossil fuel consumption as much as possible. These incentives and rebates help offset the upfront cost of electric vehicles and make going green a more affordable option for drivers. It’s important to note that although most EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) purchased after 2010 may be eligible for tax incentives of up to $7,500, not all models are eligible.

And unfortunately, standard hybrids don’t qualify for this tax credit, which is something to consider when choosing between an electric vehicle and a standard hybrid.

Purchase price

Electric vehicles are generally more expensive than their hybrid counterparts — though prices will still largely depend on the model and manufacturer you choose. According to Kelly Blue Book, the average transaction price for an EV is around $60,000. Whereas hybrids typically have a lower sticker price, with various options available between $20,000 to $30,000.

Pros and Cons of Hybrid Vehicles
Hybrid cars are becoming more popular by the day as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional gasoline engine cars. But before you run out and buy one, it’s important you know what driving a hybrid car entails.

Pros

  • More practical for longer trips compared to electric vehicles
  • Produces lower emissions than traditional gas-fueled cars
  • Can refuel at regular gas stations
  • Lower fuel consumption and higher mpg compared to ICEVs
  • Lower sticker price than EVs
Cons

  • Higher maintenance costs compared to EVs
  • Produces fuel emissions
  • High upfront cost compared to ICEVs
  • No tax incentives or rebates unless it’s a plug-in hybrid

So Which One Is Right for You?

In terms of environmental impact, EVs produce no emissions, whereas hybrids can still introduce pollutants since they’re powered by gasoline. Electric vehicles also tend to be cheaper to maintain since there are far fewer moving parts that can break down or need replacing.

But if you want to avoid range anxiety and not worry about where and when to charge your car, EVs might not be your best bet. It’s also important to note that ICEVs, as well as hybrid vehicles, could be banned by 2035.

So, which is better? At the end of the day, this depends on your needs and preferences. If you want a vehicle that causes little to no harm to the environment, an electric car is probably your best bet. But if you’re looking for something more practical, a hybrid car might be a better choice.

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About The Author


Jamela Adam

Jamela Adam is a personal finance writer covering topics such as savings, mortgages, investing, student loans, and more. Her work has appeared on Clever Girl Finance, Chime, SuperMoney, and Mint Intuit, among other publications.


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