If you’re looking for ways to both help the environment and save money by reducing your everyday living expenses, then an energy efficient car might be a smart purchase for you. For that reason, energy efficient electric cars are a becoming increasingly popular. There are some critical differences in the types of technology that is used in cars that rely on electricity in one way or another for their operation. Here’s a handy buyers guide that will give you a quick education of the differences in the types of electric cars and what you need to know before you buy one.
Electric Car Basics
There are three types of electric cars that vary in their actual use of electricity for all or part of their operation. Hybrid Vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles(PHEV) and all Electric Vehicles(EV) each offer a different set of benefits and drawbacks. However, with the cost of gas approaching, or even exceeding, $4.00 per gallon across the United States, one of the most sought-after benefits is the money you’ll save with the reduced need to gas up.
While it is true that the sale price of a new electric or hybrid car will likely top that of a gas-powered auto, the savings that come with lesser fuel consumption make investing in an electric car a good value in the long run. Plus, there are the added benefits of cleaner emissions and in some cases a tax benefit of $7,500 from the government.
A hybrid vehicle has a gas engine as well as an electric motor. Gas is the primary source of energy for the hybrid automobile, but with an electric motor in the mix, drivers will achieve better gas mileage than a traditional gas-only car. As with almost all electric vehicles, the hybrid’s battery will recharge whenever you apply the brakes providing you with some self generated power. In many circles, the Toyota Prius has become synonymous with the electric hybrid vehicle. This type of hybrid is the most popular type of electric vehicle, the most affordable and has the most options on the market, as there are many different auto companies that are producing this type of car or truck. Hybrids are good for short and long distance driving because you can always fill their tank at the nearest gas station and still get the benefit of their high MPGs.
Pro: Gas and Battery Powered. Typically, the most affordable type of electric vehicle. You’ll save lots on gas because they have a high MPG.
Con: Needs gas to run. You cannot run this vehicle with just the battery.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
A plug-in hybrid operates in a similar fashion to a hybrid vehicle, but features electricity as the main energy source and switches to gas when the battery runs low. While operating on gas, the battery will recharge as it does with a hybrid. However, as the name indicates, the difference lies in the ability to plug in this version to recharge the vehicle’s battery, without relying on the gas engine.
The Chevrolet Volt is a popular plug-in hybrid that has seen a major discount in pricing since it’s introduction. Last year’s model was listed at $39,145 MSRP while current models were slashed to $27,495 with the help of a tax credit of $7,500 for purchasing. With the Volt, consumers receive a 38-mile EV(all battery powered driving), 380 total range and 98 miles per gallon. It will cost the average driver less than $1,000 in fuel costs annually and the Volt will be fully charged in a period of four hours. Plug-In Electric Hybrids are also good for short and long distance driving because you can always fill their tank at the nearest gas station and still get the benefit of their high MPGs. The added benefit is that short distance driving will provide you with the more efficient battery only driving.
Pro: Gas and Battery Powered with the ability to run on battery only for a short distance. Even more gas savings.
Con: More expensive than a hybrid and still only offers a small range for battery only driving.
All Electric Automobiles
Often called an EV(Electric Vehicle), a vehicle without a gas-powered engine at all is an all-electric automobile. The Tesla Model S is widely considered the best overall car in the electric vehicle class. Of course, you will pay for that quality with an MSRP around $70,000, and critics often mention that the lack of a gas-powered engine could leave you stranded if the electric battery runs out.
However, there are many benefits as well, including an estimated 95 miles per gallon(of gas equivalent energy) and a range of 208 miles, which is the best on the market. Drivers will only spend about $650 per year on charging costs and can be half-charged in 20 minutes thanks to the Tesla Super-Charger, which blows the competition out of the water when it comes to a quick charge. Electric Vehicles like the Tesla Model S that run on battery only are good for short and medium distances because you’ll have to pay close attention to the range of the battery charge. In time, the infrastructure and battery charge times will improve to support long range driving of electric(only) vehicles.
Pro: Never pay for gas, again!
Con: You might wish you had a gas tank if you’re battery runs out of charge. Additionally, charging times can take hours. Plus, these vehicles can be more expensive than Hybrids or Plug-In Hybrids.
If you are most concerned about the environment, an all-electric vehicle is the one for you. For drivers looking to boost gas mileage and reduce the amount of time spent at the pump, hybrids or a plug-in hybrid will certainly do the trick.
As electric vehicles become increasingly popular, the available options and driving range will increase, while the costs of the battery power cells will come down. This will help to stabilize the price of the EV(all electric vehicles) and make the Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids become even more competitively priced. If you’re in the market right now for one of these vehicles, there are certainly a variety of options to choose. You’ll have to base your purchase decision on the features and capabilities that are most important to you, for a vehicle that falls into your comfortable price range.
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