Hybrid vehicles are currently gaining popularity because they not only emit low levels of carbon dioxide but also get better gas mileage. They use less fuel because they can run for several miles on electric power.
If you’re considering purchasing a new hybrid, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of owning and operating one. So keep reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of hybrid vehicles. Based on this information, you can determine whether a hybrid vehicle is right for you.
What Is a Hybrid Car?
Simply put, a hybrid combines at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to propel the vehicle, and its system recaptures energy through regenerative braking. Sometimes the electric motor does all of the work, sometimes the gas engine, and sometimes both. As a result, less gasoline is consumed, resulting in improved fuel economy. In some cases, adding electric power can even improve performance.
Because hybrid cars often emit less CO2 than conventionally engineered cars, their owners may benefit from lower first-year road tax and less expensive company car tax, as well as possibly avoiding congestion charges.
Types of Hybrid Vehicles
While almost everyone has heard of hybrid vehicles, the majority of people are unaware of the various types on the market.
1. Parallel Hybrid Vehicles
This is the most common type of hybrid, and the most well-known example is the Toyota Prius. The wheels of the car can be powered in three ways: directly by the engine, solely by the electric motor, or jointly by both power sources.
The Prius only uses the electric motor for power when pulling away and at speeds up to 15mph, making it very economical for stop-start city driving. The petrol engine kicks in as the speed increases and is most effective during hard acceleration.
A regenerative braking system generates electricity and stores it in the battery for later use whenever you decelerate or use the brakes. However, because the battery is small, the electric motor can only power the car for 1.25 miles.
2. Hybrid Vehicles with Extended Range
These only use a standard engine to generate electricity for a generator that recharges the batteries. The engine never drives the vehicle; instead, it generates energy for the electric motor. One of the most popular examples is the BMW i3 with Range Extender (now only available as a used car).
Hybrids are also classified as strong or mild based on the amount of battery power they possess. Strong hybrids with larger battery capacities can travel farther on electric power alone than mild hybrids.
3. Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles
As the name implies, this type of hybrid can be recharged by plugging it into an electrical outlet or charging it while on the move.
Plug-in hybrids are effectively a bridge between conventional hybrids and fully electric vehicles. They have a conventional engine but larger batteries than regular hybrids and can travel longer distances on electric power alone – up to 50 miles in some cases.
Pros of Hybrid Cars
It would be nice to say that hybrid vehicles are completely environmentally friendly, but they are not because they still run on gasoline. However, hybrid vehicles are better for the environment than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles because they emit fewer carbon emissions. This is a step in the right direction in the fight against global warming.
2. Reduced Reliance on Gas
Because hybrid cars are more efficient, you will use less gasoline to power your vehicle. When compared to a gasoline engine vehicle of the same model, you will save a significant amount of money over the life of your vehicle. Less reliance on gas also contributes to a reduction in our society’s overall oil consumption, which will have a compounding effect as more people switch to hybrid vehicles.
3. Reduced Air Pollution
Another advantage of hybrid vehicles is that they emit less pollution into the environment. Indeed, because fewer amounts of fossil fuels must be used, our emission levels will be much lower. This can be especially beneficial in large cities where air quality is frequently poor, as replacing conventional cars with hybrid vehicles could significantly improve air quality in many large cities around the world.
4. Hybrid Vehicles Are Quiet
The first few times you drive a hybrid car, you may find it disconcerting not to hear a large gasoline-powered engine kick into action. You might even wonder if the car is turned on at all. Sure, the engine will start as you drive, but it will be much quieter than in a conventional car.
5. Regenerative Braking System
When you apply the brakes while driving a hybrid vehicle, it helps to recharge the battery slightly. An internal mechanism kicks in and captures the released energy and uses it to charge the battery, reducing the amount of time and the need to stop to recharge the battery on a regular basis.
6. Lower Maintenance Costs
When driving a hybrid vehicle, especially in and around the city, you’ll notice that your gasoline engine isn’t running very often. As a result, there will be much less maintenance required over the life of the vehicle. You won’t even have to change the oil as frequently.
7. Extended Warranties
When you purchase a new car, you gain access to a variety of warranties. When you buy a hybrid car, you will receive additional warranties. For example, all hybrid vehicles include a 10-year/150,000-mile hybrid battery warranty, which is only available with hybrid models.
8. Potentially Higher Resale Value
More people are opting for fuel-efficient vehicles as gas prices rise and hybrid cars gain popularity. In effect, hybrids’ resale value has begun to rise. If you decide to trade or sell your hybrid vehicle, you may receive a higher return on your initial investment than you would with a standard counterpart.
9. High Durability of Hybrid Cars
Contrary to popular belief, hybrid vehicles have a high level of durability. In fact, hybrid vehicles can be used for up to 15 years or more. Yes, you will most likely need to replace the battery during the life of your hybrid vehicle. Nonetheless, the hybrid car’s overall durability is quite high.
Cons of Hybrid Cars
1. Hybrid Vehicles Are Only a Short-term Solution
Hybrid vehicles are only a temporary solution. In fact, because hybrid cars also use some fossil fuels, they will not help us to slow down global warming sufficiently in the long run. As a result, while this technology can assist us during the energy transition, it will most likely become obsolete in a few decades.
2. Slower Driving
A hybrid vehicle will not allow you to drive as quickly as you would like. Although the car allows you to drive at high speeds, doing so will consume more gasoline. This would defeat the purpose of purchasing a hybrid car in the first place, as it is intended to use more electrical power and less gasoline power. As a result, you are always encouraged to drive slower in order to make better use of the electric motor power.
3. More Pricey
While hybrid vehicle prices have decreased over the years, they are still two to three thousand dollars more expensive to purchase new than a conventional car of the same make and model. Sure, you’ll save more in running and maintenance costs over the life of the car, but for some, the higher purchase price may put a hybrid car out of their price range.
4. High-voltage System Repairs Can Be Costly
Although hybrid vehicles require less regular maintenance, repairs can be costly, especially if the problem is with your car’s high voltage system. Depending on the battery type and the make and model of your vehicle, replacing a dead or damaged high voltage battery can cost thousands of dollars.
In addition to the standard technology found in ICE vehicles, hybrid vehicles include a slew of complex components ranging from large high voltage battery packs and inverters to electric motors and improved cooling systems. Not only can these complex mechanisms raise the cost of hybrid repairs, but not all mechanics have the necessary tools and knowledge.
5. Insuring Hybrid Vehicles Is More Expensive
A hybrid vehicle will typically cost more to insure than a conventional gasoline-powered car of the same make and model. This is due to two factors. First, they are more expensive to purchase and thus more expensive to replace; second, the parts are also more expensive. Insurance companies are aware of this, and these extra costs are factored into your insurance premium.
6. Accident from High Voltage in Batteries
The high voltage present inside the batteries can be lethal in the event of an accident. In such cases, there is a high risk of electrocution, making it difficult for rescuers to get other passengers and the driver out of the car.
7. Battery Replacement Can Be Costly
Hybrid vehicle battery replacement is currently uncommon. However, if a battery needs to be replaced, the cost can quickly add up. These batteries are not inexpensive and can cost thousands of dollars. As a result, before purchasing a hybrid vehicle, ensure that you factor in those additional costs to avoid unpleasant financial surprises in the long run.
8. Performance May Be Less Than That of Conventional Vehicles
On average, the performance of hybrid vehicles may be lower than that of conventional vehicles. While technology advances and hybrid car performance is likely to improve in the near future, they have a rather limited performance right now, which you should consider when making potential purchasing decisions.
What Can Affect Your Hybrid Battery’s Life?
Many factors influence the life of your hybrid battery, just as they do any other component of your vehicle. Your driving style, maintenance routine, battery charging method, and even where you live can all have an impact.
Regular maintenance is critical to the smooth operation of your vehicle. The gas engine and electric motor are somewhat dependent on one another, and if one fails to perform well, the other suffers. The battery should be tested at regular service intervals, along with other maintenance. If one or more of the battery cells are found to be defective, the battery can be reconditioned to extend its life. Skipping the check-ups can reduce the life of your battery.
Your charging routine is critical. To get the most out of your hybrid battery pack, make sure you follow all of the manufacturer’s charging instructions. It is always best not to fully discharge your battery and to fully charge it when it is low. Avoid frequent short top-ups and driving with a nearly dead battery.
Temperature fluctuations can be damaging to your battery. It is intended to operate efficiently within a certain temperature range. Driving in extreme cold or heat for extended periods of time can cause battery damage. In hot weather, an auxiliary battery system assists in keeping the battery pack cool. Clean the auxiliary fan on a regular basis as part of your maintenance routine to keep the cool air flowing.
As previously stated, hybrid vehicles have numerous advantages and disadvantages. While hybrid cars may be useful during the energy transition, hybrid technologies, in my opinion, do not have a promising future because there are simply better alternatives available.
It takes more than a desire to be environmentally friendly to decide whether or not a hybrid car is right for you. You must investigate the resources available in your area to assist you in maintaining and sustaining the vehicle. Depending on the type of car you buy, you may require experienced mechanics or an alternative fuel source. You should also investigate any credits or discounts that may be available to assist you in lowering the cost of the car’s purchase.