So you’ve decided to ditch the gas guzzler and get behind the wheel of a greener alternative. But how green will you go? The differences between hybrid (which still have a traditional fuel element) and plug-in electric vehicles (totally powered by electricity) can be confusing, so we’re here to shed a little light on why we think the future of roads is 100% electric...
1) An electric vehicle (or “EV”) is significantly cheaper to run than a hybrid:
Electricity is around 90% cheaper than petrol or diesel (on a pence per mile basis)
Zero London congestion charge for EVs
Often zero road tax for EVs
Generous corporate tax relief for EVs
2) More generous space - a hybrid squeezes its battery in the boot, whereas some EVs (Teslas for example) store the battery under car the by the wheels, meaning there are two boots)
3) A government grant of £3500 is available if you buy or lease a brand new EV. Grants for hybrids are no longer available (they were withdrawn in October this year)
4) With only 18 moving parts in a typical EV engine, versus hundreds in a hybrid, the maintenance of an EV is much easier
5) There are over 10,000 EV charge points in the UK and counting, many of which are PAYG (once you start looking for them, you’re likely to see them everywhere!).
6) An EV can charge at home and while you’re fast asleep, which means no more time wasted at the petrol station
7) As cities increasingly consider zero emissions zones, you can be confident you’ll have the freedom to drive anywhere, without having to pay for the privilege
8) You can drive an EV with an automatic driving license (and they’re much quieter to drive)
And perhaps the most important reason of all:
An electric vehicle has zero emissions, meaning better air quality for us all
What is an EV?
The definition of an electric vehicle is simple: it’s a car that only runs on electricity. You can charge it up at home or at a public charge point, and there are zero emissions.
What is a hybrid?
The term hybrid has evolved to cover a range of vehicles, with various manufacturers attempting to make their gas-based models appear greener. Generally, it means a car that takes its power from two sources, most often a hybrid of electricity from a battery and petrol from a tank.
A traditional hybrid will charge the battery using the petrol engine - a Prius is the most well-known of these.
A plug-in hybrid is any car that can be plugged in to charge the battery, as you would an electric vehicle, but also has a petrol engine. The range that these cars can travel on electric power is far shorter than a normal EV, often no more than 40 miles. With these models, you need to remember to both charge the battery and fill the tank with petrol or diesel.
A mild hybrid indicates that the power that comes from electricity is limited, and it won’t normally be able to drive on electric power alone. Instead, it just takes over occasionally from the petrol engine, such as when you stop and start. In truth, these are really just petrol or diesel cars with an extra function.
But doesn’t a hybrid car offer the best of both worlds?
Whatever way you look at it, hybrids are still powered by gas, and while they might create lower emissions than a traditional internal combustion engine car, they do still create them. So while a hybrid is good and a plug-in hybrid is better, an EV is undoubtedly best for the environment.
You can think about the battery in a hybrid car as a handy addition to the petrol engine. But while handy, it’s not fundamental to its functionality so hasn’t been designed around it. In fact, unlike in an EV, the battery is stored in the boot, which means there’s not much space for anything else. It’s also worth knowing that the weight of the battery in a hybrid adds significantly to the car’s overall weight, so extra power is needed to drive it forward. If you’re driving around with a less than full battery, you’re actually creating more work for your car and lowering your fuel efficiency.
Won’t I be constantly charging my EV?
One of the reasons people have traditionally gone for hybrid cars is “range anxiety”- they worry that an EV won’t be able to go very far before needing to be recharged, so choose a car with the extra security of a petrol engine. But those days are behind us. Today, all of the EVs being launched and in the pipeline have a range of more than 200 miles, and many are upgrading the battery in existing models to reach this as well.
In contrast, a plug-in hybrid car has a much smaller battery so can only go around 20-30 miles before having to rely on the petrol or diesel engine.
Check out the increase in charging points between 2011 and 2017…
So, if you’re looking at cutting your vehicle emissions there are lot of options out there these days. Although hybrids have done a great job of moving on the conversation around cleaner vehicles, we believe the future is 100% electric. It’s cleaner, it’s more practical, and it looks like that’s the way the market’s going. Gone are the days of electric vehicles with a range of just 50 miles and a constant worry in the back of the driver’s mind. The new breed of vehicles, and the ever expanding charging infrastructure, should mean that “range anxiety” is a thing of the past. And, just as importantly, some of those new EVs are sexy cars.
Why not check out some of the best all-electric vehicles here