A hybrid car combines a combustion engine (usually petrol-powered) and an electric motor. Sometimes, the engine or electric motor works alone to power the car, and other times, they work together.
There are three types of technologies: full hybrids (the battery is recharged by running the engine), mild hybrids (two motors always work in parallel), and plug-in hybrids (require charges for an all-electric range). But in any case, the use of a battery cuts fuel consumption.
Most of us learn about hybrids in a positive light, especially the financial benefits of hybrid cars. But that’s not enough to make an informed buying decision. There is also a time and place to discuss the cons of hybrid vehicles - the time is now, and the place is this article.
Is hybrid technology really better than a traditional engine? Let’s settle this together by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid vehicle.
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Without further ado, here are the pros and cons of hybrid cars.
Pros of Hybrid Cars
As you can see, there is no shortage of benefits:
Super quiet in full electric mode
While you can hear gasoline-powered cars from a nearby street, an electric motor makes no sound. It allows you to focus and be more aware of your surroundings, especially crosswalks and other pedestrian areas. Locals will also appreciate you not contributing to noise pollution.
Hybrid cars still need normal services like oil changes, belt replacements, wheel alignments, etc. But they are gentle on the engine since they don’t use it as much. So, the gasoline components of your car will need much less attention. That all translates to generally fewer routine maintenance costs.
Lower carbon footprint
Hybrid cars are accountable for fewer carbon emissions since they don’t exclusively rely on fossil fuels. If you can't commit to a fully electric car, a hybrid car is the next best version for reducing your CO2 output.
The difference depends on the model, but most models qualify for the low-emission title with less than 100 g/km.
More Sustainable than a conventional engine
Less fuel consumption is not the only reason why hybrid cars are considered green vehicles. They are more environmentally friendly because they account for fewer emissions during production, and electric batteries inside them can be recycled.
Hybrid cars use innovative energy-saving technology called auto-stop-stop. This feature automatically disengages the gasoline engine when the car is at rest. For example, you won’t be using any energy in traffic. You’ll only be using fuel and energy when it’s needed.
Higher range thanks to regenerative braking
Normally, the kinetic energy of the car decelerating turns into wasted heat. Regenerative braking feeds that energy back into the electric system, thus recharging the battery.
A regenerative braking system can add hundreds of miles to your electric range throughout the year.
Better warranty terms
A typical warranty for a car with a petrol engine lasts for the first three years or 60,000 miles. Warranty coverage on a hybrid car can last up to eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Automakers like Toyota are even more generous - 10 years or 150,000 miles.
Better fuel economy
Improved fuel efficiency is one of the highly discussed benefits. As you already know, the electric motor takes some strain off the engine. The use of two power sources naturally extends the range of a hybrid car - you travel farther for less fuel. Lower speeds and auto-stop-start are also helpful.
Lower annual tax bills
There are several layers of tax incentives for low-emission cars in the UK:
- Alternative Fuel Discount
- Ultra Low Emissions Discount
- Benefit in Kind
- Enhanced Capital Allowances
You can also apply for a government grant of up to £2,500 to use towards buying an eligible plug-in hybrid.
Higher resale value
Hybrid cars still depreciate significantly, which is a hidden cost of any car ownership. What explains hybrids’ higher resale values is the heightened demand. There are fewer of them, so each example becomes a highly sought-after asset. Less worn-out engines are another contributing factor.
Perform well on long distances
For one, a combination of one charge and a tank of petrol will offer you the extra distance. Next, you should account for the added range converted from the kinetic energy released during braking or deceleration. Although, don’t expect hybrid cars to give a strong boost of power during acceleration.
Cons of hybrid cars
Here are a few characteristics that make hybrid cars less attractive:
More expensive than conventional cars
On average, hybrid cars are 20% more expensive than their gas engine counterparts. So, the cheapest hybrid vehicle may be similarly priced as a mid-range regular car. However, you can go upmarket with any type of car; it’s not exclusive to hybrids.
Higher price undermines fuel savings
Higher prices are inevitable cons of hybrid vehicles, even when you consider savings here and there.
Sure, you save a lot of money on gas prices. But lower running costs alone don’t offset the higher initial price. People who are operating from budget constraints don’t usually have hybrid cars at the top of their lists.
Less frequent but higher maintenance costs
Next on our list of cons of hybrid cars is another budget-related issue. We’ve mentioned that regular maintenance is not much different, if not easier, because of less stress on the engine. But if something does break, especially on the more advanced models, it may call for a costly repair.
Fewer specialised mechanics
Not all mechanics can handle a dual engine. Most of them are trained and experienced in repairing a petrol or diesel engine, and many of them will stay away from electric motors for fear of making things worse.
Less power than in some combustion engines
Weaker engines and small batteries are other cons of hybrid vehicles. Hybrids are sometimes fitted with modest engines that generate subpar combined power. If you want to impress road users with your fast and noisy acceleration, you may want to look elsewhere.
There are tons of exceptions to this rule, though.
Hybrid cars slow down their performance because they are optimised for fuel economy. Electric motors produce much less horsepower and torque, which equals a slower car. The petrol component only kicks in at higher speeds. But even then, it’s not always enough to take on other powertrains.
More expensive to insure
Finishing up with the cons of hybrid cars, we have insurance costs.
Insurance providers charge you more for hybrid cars simply because they are worth more. If something were to happen with your latest hybrid technology, it would be covered by a higher premium. Repairs might also call for specialist services.
Should I buy a hybrid car? Is it really worth it?
Obviously, buying a car is a very personal decision. A hybrid car can be the perfect fit for some people and a less-than-optimal option for others.
Consider getting a hybrid car if:
- You have a higher upfront budget.
- You’d like to reduce your car running costs (fuel economy, tax).
- You want to reduce your fossil fuel dependency.
- Your circumstances are not suitable for an all-electric vehicle.
If any of these scenarios describe you, a hybrid may be absolutely worth it. Just don’t disregard the disadvantages of a hybrid; they’ll still be there whether you like it or not.
You may want to read - Best used hybrid cars for sale under £10,000
Or should I choose a regular car?
Some people will be more uncompromising about the cons of hybrid cars, which is valid, too. The three biggest reasons not to get a hybrid are:
- You can’t afford the higher initial costs.
- You live in a very cold climate, which will damage the battery.
- You don’t want to compromise on power and performance.
Another good reason to choose a “regular car” over a hybrid car is the sheer number of options. Automakers haven’t been releasing hybrid cars for that long, so gasoline-powered vehicles dominate the market, especially the used car market.
Now that you’ve heard the pros and cons of hybrid cars, we hope you’ve come to a decision. Keep in mind that every type of car has a number of downsides. You might get over-fixated on the cons of hybrid vehicles, while there are as many disadvantages in traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
Whatever your decision is - in favour or against hybrid/electric vehicles - make your next steps with Carplus. Find reputable dealers with our search tool and get approved for a low-interest finance deal. Whether it’s a car that runs on petrol or diesel, a hybrid, or an electric car, we have your back.
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