Next car purchase: Hybrid, EV or neither? – That is the question

Hydrogen vehicle
Hydrogen vehicle

Regarding your next vehicle purchase, what’s it going to be? Will it be a hybrid? Will it be an electric (EV)? None of the above?

As far as motorized vehicles go, hybrids and electrics are both, relatively speaking, economical, that is, once paid for. But there is the obvious trade off in terms of electric vehicle driving range per given charge as opposed to hybrid vehicle driving range per given tank of gas and per given charge.

According to Martin Lamonica in “Sparks Fly Between Tesla and the Times, but Here’s What Matters to the Rest of Us,” an article on the Feb. 15, 2013 OnEarth Blog, “More mainstream EVs, such as the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric, cost more like $35,000 to $40,000 and have a driving range closer to 75 miles in good conditions.” What this implies is EVs are subject to vagaries in the weather, as, apparently, they do not perform as well in this regard under conditions of extreme cold or heat.

Then there are maintenance costs.

The costs to maintain would theoretically be higher for the hybrid because of the dual-mode capability, that is, above and beyond what the expected capital outlay would be for the normal wear-and-tear items like tires, windshield wiper blades, head and tail lights, etc.

Now add to all this, the “S” or sustainability factor. EVs have a lower carbon footprint. Gasoline-powered vehicles, meanwhile, still pollute and electrics don’t to an extent. But power to recharge EV batteries must come from somewhere and if that power is generated unsustainably then it could be a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other in that sense, EVs versus hybrids. So, it all depends.

One more item to consider is fueling versus charging infrastructure. Fueling infrastructure is far more commonplace and widespread. But, as Lamonica points out, “Nearly all – 97 percent – of the driving trips that Americans take are less than 50 miles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

Lamonica does, however, note, “The good news is that battery technology is improving steadily, which can help extend the range of electric cars and allow them to operate better in extreme temperatures.”

So what vehicle will it be? Hybrid, EV or neither? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Published by Alan Kandel