Pros and Cons of Hybrid Cars
Whenever I write about Hybrids I get slammed. People think they are slower, more expensive believing that what you save at the pump, you pay on the electric metre. So is this really true, or is a myth put forward by the car giants who do not install hybrid engines in their cars? They have also been around a lot longer than you may think.
What is a Hybrid?
Before I start, let’s look at what a Hybrid actually is. Well a Hybrid vehicle uses two engines and two different technologies (combustion engines and electric engines) harmoniously together to produce a vehicle which uses less petrol to operate. While the technology is complicated, the result is simple.
The Pros of a Hybrid
- Stop Start Heaven with great MPG
Yes, the Germans have Blue Efficiency engines which cut out when you stop, but with Hybrids very time you stop, it generates more electricity which can then be used at lower speeds. For those who struggle with the stop-start commute in the morning, you will be amazed that they can get up to 50mpg in an urban environment.
- Hybrid Cars – Efficiency on the Road
A Bugatti was born for the track which is where you will enjoy one at its best. A Land Rover Discovery is in its element covered in mud, off road. Hybrids are road cars which desperately wants to be driven efficiently. They even have displays which nag you into driving more economically.
- Keeping the Polar Bears happy
Hybrid cars are environmentally friendlier than conventional gas engine cars. In fact, hybrid vehicles run cleaner than their conventional cousins. Toyota claims their cars are up to 80% cleaner than conventional petrol or diesel engines.
- Hybrids are quiet – eerily quiet
I was not sure if this is a pro or a con to be honest. I love the sound that a sports car makes when you turn it on, but starting a car like a Toyota Prius is so quiet that you are not sure if you have turned it on at all. This is because the gasoline engine isn’t running and the electric engine is noiseless. Personally I find this a bit freaky but as I have 2 young sons, one less noise when we are going from place to place has its benefits.
- Great warranties and tax breaks
You typically get 8 year warranties on the hybrid system and if you buy a plug-in hybrid, there are additional road tax deductions available and let’s face it, we all like a tax break!
The Hybrid Cons
- They cost more
There is no pretending, they don’t. If you are comparing similar types of cars, be it hot hatches to SUVs, Hybrids are never top of the pile when it comes to the initial outlay. However, they do hold their value well, especially during times when oil prices are high. Even so, it will take a long time to recoup the difference in fuel usage costs comparted other options.
- Fuel economy is no better on the motorway.
You’d think, that with all the hype about the fuel efficiency of a Hybrid, that it would beat petrol and diesels on the motorway too – not so, unless you drive like your Gran and stick to 50mph on the motorway. I can only take the efficiency thing so far. When driven at the speed you can expect mileage in the mid to lower 40s, which is comparable to most diesel engines and even some petrol ones too.
Hybrid vehicles generally cost more to repair, and not all mechanics have the equipment and know-how to fix them properly, so you feel as if you are welded to the dealership’s own servicing team, which are never the most economical ones in the area.
- They do not like the cold!
Ultimately, cold weather is the enemy of current hybrid vehicle designs, for several reasons. Why? Batteries discharge more quickly in cold weather, which means that extended-range hybrids see their electric-only range drop precipitously along with the mercury in the thermometer. Add that to the fact that during winter, drivers demand more from their automobile’s electric system when it comes to heating.
- The Plug in Hybrid infrastructure isn’t really there.
While there are relatively few all electric or Plug-in Hybrids on the market, there is also the concern about charging points. The cars may be designed to be charged overnight using a 13-amp charger in your garage, however this is next too useless if you have to park on the street while visiting friends or if your battery drops on the motorway. The government’s Plugged-in Places scheme was launched 3 years ago to help kick start this process. £30 million has been allocated to eight pilot regions that will see 8,500 charging points installed over the coming years.
Conclusion – would I buy one?
If I was a city dweller, who did few motorway miles, then yes I would certainly consider one, however if I had to do a lot of motorway miles, then the feel and torque you get from a petrol engine and pure driving pleasure, to me, far outweighs the benefits of a few pence off at the pump.