Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming more popular as studies show that they provide benefits such as improved fuel economy, lower fuel costs, and lower emissions. If you're thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV) or a hybrid car as your next vehicle, you should weigh the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of electric and hybrid vehicles.
How Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Work
The vehicle category "electric cars and hybrids" includes electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles differ from conventional vehicles in that they are propelled by electric motors rather than internal combustion engines. Each vehicle is powered by a large traction battery pack, which stores electrical energy and powers the electric motor. When an electric vehicle is plugged into a charging station or a wall outlet, it is charged by a "off-board" power source.
Regenerative braking may charge an electric vehicle while driving. This means that when the driver brakes, some of the energy lost during braking is converted into electricity that powers the vehicle.
Electric vehicles do not require liquid fuels such as gasoline or diesel. They also do not require any fuel equipment, such as a fuel pump, line, or tank.
Hybrid vehicles use battery power to supplement a traditional internal combustion engine and do not require charging. Instead, the internal combustion engine and regenerative braking work together to charge the battery.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) also have an internal combustion gas engine. These vehicles require liquid fuel because they run on electricity until their batteries run out, at which point they switch to a gas engine.
The Benefits of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
Saving Money on Gas
Do you really save money by driving an electric or hybrid vehicle? Although high startup costs are one of the "cons" of electric and hybrid vehicles, these vehicles generally cost less to operate over time due to lower (or no) fuel costs.
EV Environmental Considerations
Depending on the type of vehicle, hybrid and electric vehicles can have lower emissions than conventional vehicles. The United States Department of Energy notes that the emissions benefits of hybrid electric vehicles vary depending on the vehicle model and type of hybrid power system used, with EVs typically producing zero tailpipe emissions and PHEVs typically producing no tailpipe emissions when driven in all-electric mode.
You Might Be Eligible for a Tax Break
All-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles purchased new in or after 2010 may be eligible for a $7,500 federal income tax credit. State and local tax breaks may also be available.
Insurance Companies Might Offer You a Discount
Purchasing a hybrid vehicle may result in lower auto insurance costs. Inquire with your local independent agent or Travelers representative about auto insurance discounts.
Cons of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
Consumers who suffer from "range anxiety," or the fear of running out of charge while driving, may find their worries eased by larger batteries and increased access to charging stations. The average range of an all-electric vehicle in 2020 was 260 miles, with some exceeding 400 miles.
It's also important to understand that driving conditions, such as hot and cold weather, as well as how you drive your vehicle, can all have an effect on the driving range of electric and hybrid vehicles. You can find information on maximizing your electric car's range in extreme temperatures on the website of the United States Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
When only using battery power, PHEVs typically have ranges of 15 to 60 miles. When the battery is depleted, they can also switch to an internal combustion engine (which runs on liquid fuel such as gasoline).
Higher Initial Investment
Electric cars typically have a higher initial cost than traditional internal combustion vehicles or hybrid vehicles. The initial costs may be offset by long-term fuel savings, a federal tax credit, and state and utility incentives. Visit the US Department of Energy website to learn more about the federal tax credit and state incentives.
Should I Invest in an Electric Vehicle?
If you're thinking about buying an electric or hybrid car as your next vehicle, do your homework. Consider how an electric car would affect your daily life. Do you, for example, know where the charging stations are in your area and how frequently you might need them? Taking the time to gather information and analyze your data can help you make a more informed purchasing decision. Here are a few more things to think about:
How to Charge Your Electric Vehicle
How long does it take to charge a hybrid or electric vehicle? It's a simple question with a complicated answer. The time it takes to charge an electric car is determined by the amount of charge required as well as the type of charging available.
Today's electric vehicle owners can charge their vehicles by plugging the vehicle's charger into the electrical power grid at home, work, or public charging stations. Chargers are classified into three types:
Level 1 charging via a 120V AC plug, which is commonly found in private and public buildings. Each hour of charging provides approximately 2 to 5 miles of driving.
Level 2 Charging is accomplished using a 240V (household) or 208V (commercial) plug that must be specially installed; this also necessitates the use of specialized charging equipment. A Level 2 charging station provides 10 to 20 miles of driving per hour of charge.
DC Fast Charge requires specialized high-powered charging equipment in addition to specialized equipment within the electric vehicle. With a 480V AC input, just 20 minutes of charging results in 60 to 80 miles of driving.
As a result, the time required to charge an electric vehicle varies. If the battery is completely depleted, charging the car could take anywhere from 20 minutes (with a "DC Fast Charge") to more than 20 hours (with Level 1 charging).
Consider Buying a Used Hybrid Vehicle
If you can't afford a new hybrid, think about purchasing a used one. You can conduct online research to locate a service that provides vehicle history reports, track service records, and eliminate vehicles that have performed poorly.
Consider your auto insurance options after you've decided on the car you want to buy. Get in touch with your car insurance agent to ensure you have the coverage you require.