How to Decide Between EV’s and Hybrids

We all know that the ‘greenest’ way to move about the planet is on foot. But since that’s not practical for most of us, a hybrid, or an EV will have to do. There are a lot of myths and speculation surrounding these two types of vehicles. So let’s look at reasons for buying each, and try to figure out which GreenMobile is right for you…

Range Anxiety: Fact or Fiction?

Fully electric vehicles like a 2013 Ford Focus Electric or 2013 Nissan Leaf, are limited by the juice stored in their battery packs. Typically able to travel 60-100 miles on a full charge, an EV is not the ideal car for a roadtrip to Vegas.

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When your EV runs low on juice, your trip Will stop. Now, you could plug your EV into a standard 120v household outlet, but it’ll take 10-14 hours before you can go anywhere. Another option is to push it home and use a special 240v EV home charging dock. However, you’ll still have to wait 4-8 hours for a complete recharge. Many cities have paid high-volt EV charging stations that allow you to fill your voltage-tanks in around 30 minutes. But either way you go, refilling the tank on an EV takes time and planning (many EVs have known-charging stations pinpointed on a special navigation screen, to aid your route planning).

A hybrid on the other hand (like the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid or 2013 Toyota Prius), is only limited by the amount of fuel in the tank. When you come to a stop, the gas engine shuts off, and Ben Franklin keeps all of the accessories going. As you accelerate, Ben’s invention powers the drive wheels until a set speed is reached, or the batteries start to run low. At that point, the gas engine springs to life, sending power to the wheels, and juice to the batteries.

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If the little gas-pump-light comes on in a hybrid, all you have to do is find the nearest Petrol Emporium, and top off the tank. There’s no waiting around to recharge, and no fear of…completing your journey on foot.

If you want to ‘have your cake and eat it too’, a plug-in hybrid like the 2013 Chevy Volt or 2013 Ford Fusion Energi, offer fully electric transportation, with the benefit of an onboard generator. Powered solely by an electric motor and battery pack, plug-in hybrids can travel well beyond their charge-range by activating the gas engine under the hood.

Unlike a normal hybrid, the gas engine in a plugin hybrid never powers the wheels directly. It simply runs at a constant RPM, providing juice for the batteries. Once sufficient charging levels have been reached, the gas engine goes back to sleep, and you complete your journey in electric silence. Thanks to its lack of range limitation, a plug in hybrid could really be considered a ‘long-range EV’.

So yes, ‘range anxiety’ does exist, but most serious EV drivers will enjoy that whole OCD mileage calculation thing.

Is geography really a factor?

Yes, it is. If you live in a cold/snowy climate, your EV driving range will be reduced by as much as 50% during the winter months. Since batteries don’t like the cold (or extreme heat), most EVs have a ventilation/heating system to keep the batteries at an optimum temperature. But you’re not going to beat Mother Nature with a fan, or a heat strip. So if you live in an extremely hot or cold environment, just save yourself the aggravation and buy a hybrid.

Hills & Flatlands. Surprisingly, these are considerations too. EVs and hybrids rely on regenerative braking to boost the batteries while you’re driving. Everytime you hit the brakes, the electric motor reverses itself to act as a generator, sending brief charges to the battery pack. On hills, your hybrid and EV are able to replenish the power it takes to climb the hill, by coasting down the other side. On totally flat terrain, there’s less of a chance for the batteries to replenish themselves. Granted, this isn’t a huge consideration, but it does bare mention.

Maintenance & Repairs

While you may qualify for some federal and state tax incentives when purchasing an EV, both hybrids and electric vehicles will cost you considerably more at the repair shop. But on a hybrid/plug-in hybrid, you have maintain the electric system and the gas engine. An electric vehicle on the other hand, only needs tires and the occasional brake pad.

All in all, hybrids and electric vehicles have come a long way in the last five years. Both of these car types are as much a lifestyle choice, as they are transportation. So weigh the pros & cons carefully, because neither one of them is cheap.

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