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Hybrid vs. Electric: What Should You Buy

Breaking down all the pros and cons to help you make a decision between hybrid and electric vehicles.

Hybrid vs. Electric: What Should You Buy

The great debate between hybrid and electric has raged on for years. Which one is greener? Which is more affordable in the long run? Which one will become the future of the automotive industry? Which one will last the longest? If you're in the market you've probably wondered about all these questions yourself. We here at Instamotor decided to take a quick stab at breaking it down for you in the hopes of making it just a bit easier to make the right decision when looking for a green, new-to-you car.

Electric Vehicles

Pros
  • Over time Electric Vehicles generally require less maintenance. New tires and tire rotation will likely be the only cost you'll face.
  • You'll save on gas!!! (In theory)
  • You're saving trees and the environment! YAY!
Cons
  • You may (MAY) have to replace a battery which could be an expensive endeavor--and tricky. There's a lot of debate about how eco-friendly the batteries are, too. Particularly when they are being disposed of.
  • The gas argument is a bit of a false positive. Do you pay for electricity? Then, in order to charge your car, you'll need to buy more electricity and possibly install a charging port somewhere near or in your house--all costs that need to be considered when you're looking to buy a new car.
  • It's not as green as you think. Many places across the country still create electricity by burning coal--and unless you live under a rock, you know that coal burning electrical plants are the absolute opposite of green. Also—see the first con—battery disposal is dirty business.
  • Upfront cost: You'll pay a higher premium for an electric vehicle up front to get theoretical savings down the road (as TheStreet.com points out here.)
  • You can't just refuel anywhere: Charging takes time—lots and lots of it. Think of an electric vehicle in the same way that you think of your phone. Do you take every opportunity to plug in and recharge your phone? Do you get anxious when you have under 20% of battery power? Welcome to range anxiety. Electric vehicles don't generally get too far on electric only power--and they can take anywhere from 8 hours and up to recharge unless you have access to the very limited numbers of quick-charging stations strung around the country. You can't just make a pit stop at a local gas station and refuel anywhere--making road trips tricky.
  • Weather is a major factor in range. Let's go back to the phone example—weather—cold or hot affects how long your battery on your phone lasts, right? The exact same thing happens in an electric vehicle. Cold and hot can drastically affect the range you can get out of your car—and quickly too.

Hybrid Vehicles

Pros
  • They're green (—er than pure combustion engines).
  • They're cheaper to buy than EVs
  • You can quickly refuel (gasoline) and take long trips without range anxiety.
  • You'll save on gas. (YAY!)
Cons
  • They can be more sluggish than their pure gasoline counterparts, or most EVs for that matter. To be more eco-friendly, the gasoline engines in hybrids are usually more efficient which typically means less horsepower (to an extent). They often make up for it by using their electric motors to generate low end torque —but once that battery is tapped—you're going to rely solely on the gasoline engine—and those lower horses.
  • More maintenance than an EV. Since hybrids have gasoline engines, they are going to require the same maintenance as a gasoline car would. Expect to take the car in regularly for check ups, tune ups and oil changes as well as tire rotation and changes throughout its life.
  • They cost more. EVs and hybrids both cost as much as 20% more than their gasoline counterparts —and it takes quite awhile to get that cost back in gasoline savings.

Ultimately, making the choice between buying an EV or a hybrid comes down to use and preference. If you have a long commute and want the flexibility that a gasoline car offers, while being green, a hybrid is a good choice for you. If you have a short, reliable commute in a place where the climate is good, then an EV might be the right choice. Do your homework and check out your options before settling on a final choice.

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Abigail BassettAbigail Bassett

Digital media content producer/consultant & former CNN senior producer, now running CN'TRL : Cars, Tech, Real Estate & Luxury.

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