The Pros & Cons of Driving a Hybrid Car
Between fluctuating gas prices and the push for cleaner and renewable energy sources, it’s no surprise that hybrid vehicles have become more prevalent on the roads over the last couple of years. Compared to standard combustion engine cars or electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids offer drivers the best of both worlds, balancing the increased fuel efficiency of a battery pack with the horsepower and torque of an engine. But just as you should before making any major purchase, especially when it comes to a hybrid or electric vehicle, you must do your research.
So to help you, let’s dive into the basics of hybrid vehicles and go over some advantages and disadvantages you can expect when owning a hybrid.
What are “Hybrid” Cars?
Starting with the basics, a hybrid vehicle is a particular type that utilizes technology in electric vehicles and standard combustion engines. By effectively combining these vehicles, car manufacturers can bolster fuel economy, performance, and more to give you highly fuel-efficient vehicles without sacrificing as much power as you would find comparing an EV with a gas-powered or diesel engine.
Let’s look at a description of each three types of vehicles to better understand how they differ.
Standard Combustion Engines
A standard combustion engine relies on a combination of three components to function: air, fuel, and electricity. When you drive your vehicle, air and fuel are mixed in your gas engine to create an ignitable substance. Electricity is transferred through spark plugs, creating thousands of small, contained explosions inside your engine that generate the power your car needs to operate.
However, the chemical byproducts of this process are the emissions you see coming out of a tailpipe. And while components such as a catalytic converter work to reduce the number of harmful byproducts a vehicle produces, it can’t reduce or remove them all.
Fully Electric Vehicles
Introduced in recent years by prominent companies such as Tesla and Rivian, fully electric vehicles differ from the standard internal combustion engine. Rather than relying on contained explosions powering pistons, electric vehicles store electricity in rechargeable battery packs. This electricity is then used to power an electric motor that provides power to your wheels.
There is no fuel involved with a fully electric vehicle whatsoever. One of the incentives of electric vehicles is that you can “refuel” them using outlets at your own home or at charging stations.
Combining the two, hybrid vehicles aim to take the best of electric and gas-powered vehicles. Under the hood are both an internal combustion engine and rechargeable batteries. Like gas or diesel vehicles, a standard hybrid vehicle can fill up at the pump instead of plugging into an outlet, and the rechargeable batteries are refilled through regenerative braking.
A hybrid vehicle allows for a smaller engine since the batteries help provide extra power. Sometimes the battery takes over, sometimes, it’s all gas, and sometimes it’s both simultaneously.
A standard hybrid vehicle has become known as a full hybrid vehicle. However, there are different types of hybrid vehicles which have emerged in recent years:
- Plug-in Hybrids: Plug-in hybrids allow rechargeable batteries to be replenished by plugging the vehicle into a charging station rather than just through regenerative braking. In most cases, plug-in hybrid vehicles have longer ranges as you can charge the batteries more.
- Mild Hybrids: Mild hybrids work the same as full hybrids, but they have less range, and the electric motor typically can’t sustain the vehicle on its own.
- Range-Extender Electric Vehicles: This hybrid type is unique because it’s almost fully electric, except that a tiny gas tank is also included with the vehicle. When the EV runs out of energy and the battery dies, the gas tank kicks in and provides extra fuel.
As you can see, there are several different types of vehicles on the road. Hybrid vehicles combine technology from both all-electrics and internal combustion engines.
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Hybrid Cars
With all vehicle types, there are pros and cons to consider when owning them, and hybrid cars are no exception:
Pros of Hybrid Cars
Hybrids have some upsides to them, including:
Better Gas Mileage
Arguably, car shoppers consider a hybrid because hybrids get better gas mileage (aka miles per gallon or mpg) than internal combustion engines. After all, they can switch back and forth between using the engine or the electric motor to power the vehicle. By increasing gas mileage, you can also save money on gas which is more helpful than ever.
Tax Credits & Advantages Based on State Guidelines
Assuming the vehicle you purchased qualifies, you could receive a one-time federal tax refund in return for your hybrid vehicle. Numerous factors determine the specific amount, but you can potentially save as much as $7,500 simply by choosing a hybrid battery over a standard gasoline engine for your vehicle.
More Environmentally Friendly
Along the same line of thinking as better gas mileage, a hybrid vehicle also uses less fuel since it switches between powering methods. By having a lower fuel consumption, a hybrid vehicle burns fewer fossil fuels and is overall more eco-friendly than any gasoline-powered car.
Ability to Recharge as They Drive, Depending on the Vehicle
Depending on your hybrid model, you won’t have to plug your hybrid in to recharge the battery. As you drive around normally, the batteries will recharge through regenerative braking alone, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.
Cons of Hybrid Cars
While offering some great perks, there are some downsides to owning a hybrid, including:
Higher Starting Cost than Standard Gas Vehicles
Hybrid vehicles can see upfront costs as high as 20% more at MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) than their gasoline engine counterparts. With the cost of vehicles already near all-time highs, this increased price may not be affordable for all.
Repairs & Maintenance Costs Can Be High
While the long-term cost of owning a hybrid vehicle is lower than that of a standard electric vehicle, both will be well above the cost of repairing a regular gasoline-powered vehicle. The technology used within hybrid vehicles is extensive and comes at a higher repair cost for specific components. Hybrid maintenance can also be much more expensive than conventional vehicles and electric cars.
This is because electric vehicles do not have to worry about more minor maintenance tasks than hybrid or gas-powered cars. For example, electric vehicles won’t need to replace their spark plugs, get fuel filters changed, or ensure that essential fluids are topped off or not leaking—less maintenance means fewer maintenance costs. But compared to standard vehicles, hybrids have components found in gas and electric vehicles, expanding the number of components you need to maintain (and pay for).
Lower Driving Range than Current Gas Vehicles
Standard hybrid vehicle batteries are rechargeable by just driving around, but the power they store isn’t as much as an electric or even plug-in hybrid. While these vehicles get better gas mileage on a use basis, they do not have as far a driving range on their gas tanks as standard gas engines.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Issues
Some hybrid vehicles use hydrogen fuel cells instead of pure electricity to power the vehicle. However, this technology is still being developed, and there have been reported problems with the fuel cells holding power.
Avoid Costly Car Repair Bills with Endurance
When purchasing a new or used car, it’s important to evaluate the type and any pros or cons associated with that type. Hybrid vehicles have several benefits compared to conventional or electric cars, but hybrids may not be right for everyone. Still, when purchasing any vehicle, having the right coverage in place can help you avoid those unexpected and expensive repairs and breakdowns that your car insurance won’t cover, especially if you have an older, used vehicle. And when it comes to protecting your gas-powered or hybrid vehicle, an Endurance auto protection plan is your best bet.
With Endurance, you can get award-winning coverage for your vehicle ranging from basic powertrain protection as low as $79 a month with the Secure plan to near-complete exclusionary coverage with the Supreme plan. Even hybrid vehicles and other vehicles most other providers won’t cover can get protected with Endurance, including select luxury vehicles, high-mileage vehicles, salvage or rebuilt title vehicles and much more. Plus, all Endurance customers can enjoy complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance, trip interruption coverage and even rental car reimbursements to go along with a full 30-day money-back guarantee and the choice to take your car to any certified repair shop. You’ll even get an entire year’s worth of FREE Endurance Elite Benefits, which include extra perks and savings like tire replacements/repairs and more when you purchase any Endurance protection plan.
Give our award-winning customer care team a call at (800) 253-8203 to get a free, no-obligation quote or shop online today to get a protection plan to fit your needs and budget. You can find even more helpful vehicle buying guides and articles on topics ranging from DIY maintenance “how-tos” to extend warranty coverage comparisons, road trip planning guides and more at the Endurance blog.
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Larry Witherspoon Jr. is a co-founder and Executive Director of the Automotive Training Center. Larry has held multiple leadership positions in the U. S. Navy and with various Fortune 100 companies. In addition to his business experience, Larry grew up understanding the difficulties all young men face becoming adults especially those that come from challenging circumstances. He has taken those experiences growing up and combined them with his passion for vehicles to start the Automotive Training Center. Read more about Larry.