Hybrid Cars Become Better Buy as Popularity Grows

Photo Courtesy of M93, Wikipedia

It seems that with the launch of Tesla’s Model X and announcement of the Model 3, as well as Chevrolet announcing their Bolt hatchback, the automotive industry is going greener than ever, but there are a couple of problems with the concept of an all-electric vehicle. The industry offers a large selection of hybrid cars, SUVs and crossovers. With the announcement of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, the hybrid family of cars extends even further to the realm of minivans. These half-gas, half-electric vehicles achieve outrageous miles per gallon, or MPG, figures and are relatively cheap to run and maintain.  

The main problem with all-electric vehicles is that they can be relatively expensive. The models available in the U.S. range in price from $23,800 for a Mitsubishi i-MiEV to a rather hefty $80,000 for a Tesla Model X. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is roughly the size of a VW Beetle. This sets the stage for my main argument: buyers should buy a hybrid instead of an all-electric car. The hybrid that is cheapest to run is the Toyota Prius Eco. The Prius Eco starts at $24,700, which is only $900 more than the Mitsubishi. The Prius Eco achieves a mind-boggling 58 MPG in the city and 53 on the highway, which means that on average, it gets 56 miles to the gallon. The Prius costs $500 a year to run, which undercuts the cost of an electric vehicle by $100.  

Unlike an electric car, however, owners of the Prius and other hybrids do not have to worry about finding a place to charge because they are also powered by a gasoline engine.

Hybrid technology will continue to get better, and electric technology will make advancements, as well. As the Tesla P90D has proven with its 762 horsepower and 713 lb-ft of torque, electric cars will still be as fun to drive as gas-powered cars. When the Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt are sold, it will bring the electric car to the common man. With a nearly $30,000 price tag and 200 miles of range on a charge, electric cars will finally be practical to own. The Nissan Leaf rules the market with a price under $30,000 but only 107 miles on a charge. The average gasoline powered car has a range of about 300 miles.

I am not saying that electric cars are bad — if someone is in a position to buy a Tesla P90D for $120,000, they should go for it. For everyone else in the market for a new set of wheels, I highly recommend going hybrid because of their low running costs, relatively low MSRP and ease of ownership.

Electric cars are the future; there is no doubt about that. However, Rome was not built in a day, and neither was the lithium-ion battery.  

According to the Department of Energy’s “The History of the Electric Car,” the first electric car was invented in 1884 by Thomas Parker. That would mean that it was produced two years earlier than Karl Benz’s Motorwagen, which was the first gasoline powered automobile. Thomas Edison called electric cars a “superior form of transportation” and then began researching more efficient batteries. Electric cars lost popularity due to incredibly cheap gas prices in the U.S. and Europe around the 1920s, and would not come back into popularity until GM launched the EV1 in 1996.  

There are many things to consider when buying an electric car, including model, cost and technology.

First, one must decide which car to buy. According to Plugincars.com, the U.S. currently offers 13 pure electric models, excluding plug-in hybrids, because they use a gasoline engine. 

A major factor in the cost of one of these cars is fuel. Yes, hilariously enough, electric cars need fuel. Depending on how electricity is produced within the area, an electric car can actually be more harmful to the environment than gasoline-powered cars. According to Fueleconomy.gov’s 2016 “Fuel Economy Guide,” to run a car that achieves the 2016 Corporate Average Fuel Economy of 36 miles per gallon, the average fuel cost will only be $800 per year. The average electric car running costs are roughly $625 per year.

Technology will eventually create a better electric car. In 1996, General Motors launched the EV1 with a range of 70 to 100 miles on a single charge of their lead-acid batteries. In 1997, Toyota launched the first generation of the Prius. The hybrid Prius gained a large following because of its practicality and reliability. It would be another seven years until Tesla releases the Roadster, which would then spark interest in electric cars again. Nowadays, there are few cars that even match the EV1’s range and it’s been 20 years since its launch.  

Tesla has plans to reduce the cost of producing their batteries and as the ranges of electric cars grow larger and larger; I would say that we could see 300 to 400 miles worth of range in electric cars by the end of the decade.  

So, there are options available to those who want to make the jump from gas to all-electric. For the others that are skeptical, I say go hybrid because you will benefit from a much larger range on one tank of fuel than ever before. In a few years, when the technology is far superior, electric cars will grow in popularity.