What’s the Difference? Comparing Gas, Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

If you are in the market for a new vehicle you will find that there is more to consider besides car make and model. Whether for environmental or financial reasons, more and more people are saying goodbye to their gas-powered vehicles and purchasing hybrid or electric vehicles instead.

But what are the differences between hybrid cars and standard cars? Is buying an electric car worth it? Your friends at SafeAuto have the answers.

hybrid vs electric cars vs gas vehicles

Gas vs Hybrid Cars

When you begin to compare hybrid cars and standard cars, you should start by knowing how each vehicle runs.

Standard Vehicle

  • Runs on a gasoline-powered engine

Hybrid Vehicle

  • Runs on gasoline along with an electric motor with a rechargeable battery pack
    • There are two different types of hybrid vehicles:
  • Standard hybrid – The battery recharged by its regenerative braking and the engine
  • Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – The battery is recharged by plugging in the car to an external electric power source

The combination of the gas-powered engine and the battery allows the hybrid to alternate between the two power sources, creating better fuel efficiency. If you compare hybrid cars against standard vehicles, the retail price of the hybrid will be higher, but the yearly savings will be greater.

You can compare hybrids and their standard counterparts on fueleconomy.gov.

For example:

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

  • Suggested Retail Price: $29,095
  • Combined MPG: 46
  • Fuel Cost Savings per year: $413

2019 Chevrolet Malibu

  • Suggested Retail Price: $27,495
  • Combined MPG: 32
  • Sticker Price Savings: $1,600

It would take a little under 4 years of owning the hybrid to make up for the extra cost in retail price, based on fuel cost savings alone.

Pros of a Hybrid Vehicle:

  • More environmentally friendly than a standard vehicle
  • Can save you money overall in gas
  • It doesn’t cost much more for routine maintenance
  • The regenerative braking system means that items such as brake pads don’t need to be replaced as often
  • Federal and State tax credits

Cons of a Hybrid Vehicle:

  • If something like the battery pack fails and you are no longer under warranty, it can be costly to replace.
  • Not made for speed. Due to the extra space required for the battery back, manufacturers compensate by providing less support in the suspension and body. This weight distribution can affect handling.
  • If you have a longer commute or plan to take long trips, the battery range on a hybrid only goes so far and you will find yourself filling up at the gas station like you would with a non-hybrid.

Hybrid vs Electric Cars

If a hybrid vehicle does interest you or you already own one, but you want to go even further and forgo gas altogether, an electric car might be the best choice for you.

Electric Vehicle (AEV)

  • Has an electric traction motor instead of a gas-powered engine, which runs on a rechargeable battery. The battery is charged like the plug-in hybrid, but can also regenerate some battery life if they have regenerative breaking.

Pros of an Electric Vehicle:

  • The most environmentally friendly of all motor vehicles
  • No more paying for gasoline
  • Have a longer battery life than a hybrid
  • Less maintenance – there’s no gas-powered engine system to maintain
  • Around the same sticker price of what a hybrid car costs, depending on what you buy. The website Energysage breaks down the cost of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.
  • Federal and State tax credits

Cons of an Electric Vehicle:

  • Your electric bill will go up. This doesn’t mean you won’t save money in the long run, however. Energy.gov’s resource eGallon compares the cost of driving with electricity versus gasoline prices for each state. Also, if you have access to alternative power sources, like solar energy, you can save more money and reduce your carbon footprint even more.
  • Larger battery means it will take longer to charge and unlike the hybrid, there’s no gasoline backup.
  • Charging stations or electric fueling stations (while their number continues to increase) can be difficult to find. This means if you are planning a longer trip, you will want to plan ahead or get a rental vehicle more capable of traveling longer distances.

So, is buying an electric car worth it? Well, in the end it depends on your lifestyle. If you live in the city and are concerned with your carbon footprint, it is something to consider. But if you have a longer commute to work or you travel a lot, perhaps a hybrid is a better option, or the traditional gas vehicle is still for you. At least until electric cars have longer battery lives.

Remember, no matter what kind of car you drive, it must be insured. Get a free quote with SafeAuto today!