If you’ve been keeping up with automotive news, you’ll know that ditching petrol and diesel is the way of the future. And while we’re not exactly sure when that’ll happen, it’s good to know there’s already plenty of fuel-efficient cars on the road. There’s your electric vehicles (EVs), your hybrids and even your plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). But what’s the difference? We found out.
As the name suggests, electric vehicles run on electricity only, which means charging up instead of filling your tank. While the idea of that might take a bit of getting used to, the environmental benefits certainly make it worth your time. EVs produce zero exhaust emissions, reduce CO2 emissions by 80% and have better efficiency. In other words, you’ll be close to driving pollution free – especially since New Zealand boasts 85% renewable energy.
On top of power being a greener way to get around, EVs are also easier on the wallet. As a comparison, the cost of charging one is the same as paying 30c per litre for petrol. And with today’s petrol prices sitting at well over the $2 per litre mark, you could be saving thousands.
While it’s hard to fault electric vehicles, there’s two things worth mentioning. One being Range Anxiety. Although the number is set to rise with more EVs hitting our roads each year, you’re still more likely to spot a petrol station than a charging stop.
A second drawback is EV charging time. While these are getting quicker, you’re still looking at anywhere between 30 minutes to 12 hours.
Pros: Greenest car on the market. Cheap to run.
Cons: Limited charging stations. Charging time.
Hybrids, as you’ve probably already guessed, rely on both power and petrol to run. Unlike EVs, these cars charge their electric engine when it’s not in use. It’s all the convenience of petrol cars, with the savings of EVs.
Without question, another benefit is the fuel savings. Since hybrids have two systems working together, there’s less work for the gas engine, meaning less gas station visits.
On the other side of the coin, they’re not as easy to maintain as electric vehicles. Being a specialist car, repairing one won’t always be easy for your mechanic. In saying that, they’re known for needing work less often than a gas-guzzler.
Pros: Self-charging. Lower fuel costs.
Cons: Can have higher maintenance costs. More expensive upfront.
Plug-in hybrids run in the same way that hybrids do, with a couple of differences. One being range. With the ability to go ‘full-electric’, most Plug-ins will cover roughly 30-50km on electric power before switching to hybrid mode. So if your daily commute’s short (lucky) but you still want the freedom to drive long distances without the fear of range anxiety, a plug-in hybrid’s for you.
Driving in electric mode means savings are on the cards, too. Because plug-ins can power on electric alone – you’ll benefit from the low cost of charging stations, some of which are free.
One disadvantage is the initial upfront cost. Plug-ins use batteries that hold more electricity than standard hybrids, making them a slightly pricier purchase. But once that’s sorted, it’s all savings from there on in.
Pros: Can go full-electric. Fuel-efficient.
Cons: Limited electric range. More expensive upfront.
How green do you go?
There you have it – a super quick rundown of the slight differences between electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Whichever way you look at it, there’s no denying the environmental and economical benefits of all three. So if you’re ever in the market for a new green set of wheels, at least now you know a bit more about what’s out there.