Hybrid vehicles are known for their ability to bridge the gap between conventional combustion engines and the newer electric technology. The technology for electric cars has been around for many years, even longer than the combustion engine, but due to the cost and lack of range and upgrades, the conventional vehicle has always won out in sales.
Now, due to environmental concerns, more people are looking for cleaner ways to get around. While going straight electric isn’t always convenient, the hybrid vehicle is the next best thing, using two powertrains. You have your typical electric motor that powers the vehicle until the juice runs out and it switches to the gasoline engine to get you the rest of the way.
But as hybrid vehicles are becoming more popular, there are still a lot of things people don’t realize are different between a hybrid and a conventional or electric car. This guide will help share with you important factors you need to consider before going hybrid!
Things to know before buying a hybrid
- Hefty price.
Gasoline engine vehicles are much cheaper, as much as 20% cheaper, than hybrids. That’s because the electric engine has always been more expensive. It’s this price that has kept the electric car from gaining ultimate popularity back in the 1800s and early 1900s. If you want a luxury hybrid vehicle, it will most likely run about a hundred thousand dollars. The good news is, the government wants to encourage people to drive hybrid/electric and offers some tax incentives to convince you to buy one.
- Added performance.
Typically, if you wanted to own a vehicle with a lot of torque, you’re paying through the nose for a ridiculously expensive muscle car. Because people want speed, there’s been a myth going around that electric and hybrid models are pathetic and weak. If you’ve been putting off buying a hybrid because you’ve bought into the lie, then you’ll be happy to know electric vehicles are incredibly fast and have amazing torque. It’s not odd to hit from zero-to-sixty in less than 4 or 5 seconds. It’s just an added benefit for going hybrid!
- Great for city driving.
While electric/hybrid engines are great for bursts of speed, the technology just isn’t there yet for too many long distances. They are best used for city driving at low speed. A lot of these models have what are called ‘regenerative braking’ systems, which means they convert the energy used to stop into electricity, and it uses that energy to recharge the electric batteries. This means that stop-and-go city and ‘around town’ driving will help your batteries last longer, where a long jaunt down the interstate will drain it. Switching to gasoline might be your best bet on the open road.
- Less space than you’re used to.
One of the great things about electric cars is they have more space than a conventional vehicle. Once you remove the gas motor, you have all kinds of extra space, which translates well for a more comfortable ride. On the other hand, the hybrid not only keeps the combustion engine, they also must find more room for the battery pack. You’ll find this space more limited in SUVs and sedans, losing the extra roomy trunk space you’re used to having.
- Return on investment.
While we already discussed that hybrid vehicles are more expensive than conventional ones, there will be a point where you end up saving more money in the long run. For straight-electric drivers, they save as much as $1,000 per year just on the cost of gasoline alone. Then apply the cost of regular oil changes and maintenance. How much you’ll save depends on how much driving you do and gas you consume, but there will be money saved. A lot of hybrid and electric drivers enjoy calculating the point at which they are paid back the cost of the vehicle in savings, which sometimes can be as little as eight years.
- They are very simplistic.
Most of the hybrids you’ll see on the road are automatics. There are no gears. There is no revving of an engine. The process of accelerating is very simple and seamless. We mentioned above about added performance, but when on electric mode, you will drive very quietly and it might be difficult for anyone to hear you coming. Care must always be taken when accelerating so rapidly and quietly. If you’ve ever enjoyed an electric toy car, they don’t need extra effort to get moving. It’s very simple and straight forward.
- The batteries are stable.
There’s another myth going around about hybrid and electric vehicles that you will have to regularly replace the batteries. This rumor was probably started to convince those who are considering a hybrid to not take the chance because of added costs to replace the batteries. It simply isn’t true. The reality is, the batteries last quite a while. That doesn’t mean you’ll never have to replace one. At least the price has gone down to replace them anyway. When it comes to that, it won’t cost an arm and a leg. It’s still cheaper, though, than the regular maintenance a combustion engine goes through.
- Doesn’t do well in the cold.
If you’ve driven any kind of car, then you know that batteries don’t hold up too well in extreme cold. This is why if you live in the north and have frequently harsh winters, a hybrid is better for you than an electric. Not only do you have the benefits of a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but you can use the gas or diesel powered car or truck to use when it gets especially snowy out. You need more power and less torque. Be sure to keep this in mind depending on where you live. Where hybrids and electric vehicles are the most popular is California where winters aren’t so harsh (unless you’re up in the mountains).
Hybrid vehicles are truly the best of both worlds. With these 8 tips, you’ll hopefully have an easier time deciding if this type of vehicle is right for you.