Hybrid cars offer owners the best of both technologies for their vehicle. You’re able to enjoy the convenience of fuel-based performance, while also gaining a benefit of extended range thanks to electrical power conservation.
The first car to be officially classified as a hybrid was invented by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche in 1898. It featured a gasoline-powered engine, which was supplemented with a power generator that had four electric motors, one on each wheel hub. The range of this first hybrid car was about 40 miles.
In recent years, hybrid technologies have helped to innovate the automobile industry, giving drivers more options, a longer driving range, and many other benefits. Here are the pros and cons of hybrid cars to consider.
List of the Pros of Hybrid Cars
1. They teach you how to drive more efficiently.
Manufacturers have given drivers all the tools they need to drive more efficiently with a hybrid car. You’re given information about your present miles/kilometers per gallon. You can see your current mileage on the tank of gas. You’ll also see how much energy is being recovered from the brakes. If you accelerate gently and brake in advance whenever possible, you can save plenty of fuel by engaging the electric engine more often.
2. They offer dual engine support.
With a typical hybrid vehicle, you’re given access to two engines with your vehicle instead of just one. You have a small electric engine that is powered by the recovered energies from braking and other driving activities. Then you have a small fuel-based engine which offers a similar performance to the typical “standard” vehicle. Because the electric engine powers from a direct stop, you’ll find a surprising amount of torque available to you when driving an electric vehicle.
3. They give drivers a much better fuel economy.
For the average hybrid car, a driver who is maximizing their fuel efficiency can often double the charted fuel economy rates of a standard vehicle of the same make and model. Drivers of a Toyota Prius can often see their fuel efficiency rates climb up near 60 miles per gallon if they maintain strict driving standards that follow best practices. That means you can go further on less fuel, which saves money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
4. They have better mileage in urban settings.
What is unique about hybrid cars is that they actually get better fuel ratings in the city than they do on the highway. That is opposite of what drivers receive with a standard fuel-based vehicle. You’re able to get better mileage in the city because the brakes are engaged more often. You have fewer chances for rapid acceleration, which means the electric engine takes over.
5. They store better in cold weather conditions.
Hybrid vehicles will often store some coolant within their engine compartment in some way to provide a layer of “insulation” against cold weather. That insulation layer keeps the engine warmer in the cold, which means there is an extra layer of protection available against the increased wear that occurs when a cold engine is cranked. Different makes and models employ this idea differently, though most can provide this benefit for up to 72 hours of sitting.
6. They offer lower greenhouse gas emission levels.
Hybrid vehicles are typically exempt from emissions tests where they are required. Laws are different in each state/province, so be sure to check local regulations to ensure your hybrid car qualifies for an exemption. You may be asked to register your vehicle and display an exemption sticker in your window, though the annual testing will not usually be necessary.
7. They are just as durable as other vehicles.
One of the biggest concerns that drivers have about a hybrid car involves the durability of the vehicle. It is true that the components of a hybrid vehicle are costlier to replace than the components of a standard vehicle. In studies comparing hybrid cars to their standard counterparts, however, the hybrid car performs almost identically to its counterpart. Consumer Reports even found that a Toyota Prius with over 200,000 miles on it still had its hybrid components working just fine.
8. They may offer tax incentives.
Some drivers may find that the purchase of a hybrid vehicle comes with a tax incentive. Although the federal tax incentives for hybrid cars has expired in the United States, there are some states which are still offering good rebates or credits that make it an investment worth considering. Many plug-in hybrids qualify for these credits. In Connecticut, drivers may still qualify for a rebate of up to $3,000 with their purchase. Qualified vehicles in California still qualify for up to $2,500 in rebates as of 2018.
9. They may offer owners a higher resale value.
The hybrid version of popular vehicles sold in the United States often retain their value better than non-hybrid vehicles. When combined with potential tax credits, maintenance savings, and lower fuel costs over time, it becomes possible to recoup a higher percentage of the original investment made into the hybrid car when compared to similar investments into fuel-only vehicles that are being driven.
List of the Cons of Hybrid Cars
1. They have a higher battery replacement cost.
If you need to replace the battery on a standard vehicle, you might pay around $100 for one at your average store. Over a 10-year period, you might replace that battery three times, creating a cost of $350 with tax. If you had to replace the battery on a hybrid car during that same 10-year period, the cost could be as high as $3,000 for some vehicles. Although vehicle manufacturers warranty the battery, up to 15 years in California, this is a cost threat which must be considered.
2. They have a higher capital cost compared to standard vehicles.
Although hybrid vehicles cost less than an electric car, you will pay more for a hybrid than you would for a comparable model without hybrid features. The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is one of the best value purchases on the market today, offering 119 miles per gallon with its plug-in features for an MSRP that begins around $22,000. A comparable vehicle is the Hyundai Accent, which offers an MSRP around $15,000.
3. They offer different levels of hybrid technologies.
Different manufacturers offer differing levels of hybrid advantages. Some models, such as the Honda Insight, save fuel by having the gasoline engine shut off when the vehicle stops, like at a red light. It is unable to operate on its electric motor by itself. Some models may not even have their climate control systems operate if the gasoline engine is not operational. These are called “mild” hybrids and offer few savings and a higher cost. At the other end of the spectrum, the Ioniq offers an experience that is as close to a full electric vehicle as one can get while still having a gasoline-based engine to use.
4. They offer few options for larger families.
If you have a large family with 6+ people, then hybrid cars offer only a handful of options for you to consider. Very few vehicle manufacturers produce a third-row option which includes a hybrid feature. Even if you search for hybrid third-row vehicles, most of the options you’ll find are fuel-efficient SUVs that aren’t actually hybrids. Outside of the Toyota Highlander and the Dodge Durango, your options are limited if you’re shopping for a new car.
5. They offer a weak cranking battery.
If you own a hybrid car, then you need to be careful about leaving your lights on. The 12v battery that helps to power the car is smaller than what you’ll find in comparable non-hybrid options. That means leaving the interior light on for a few hours is enough to drain the battery. Aftermarket batteries for hybrid models are often better than the ones which come standard, though the price is still about double that of a standard battery in a fuel-based vehicle.
6. They may have performance issues to consider.
Most hybrid vehicles are designed to offer drivers access to a better fuel economy. These cars are not usually built for speed. Although there can be some “get up and go” at a red light or stop sign, the fuel-only vehicle is going to outperform the hybrid over time. Hybrid cars also tend to eliminate enhancements, like sports-tuned suspensions, which keeps the vehicle lighter at the expense of a better driving experience.
These hybrid cars pros and cons are worth examining if you’re in the market for a new vehicle. If your household structure can support the design of a typical hybrid today, then you will find models which offer you a superior level of fuel economy compared to non-hybrid vehicles. Larger families will struggle to find something useful, and even then, the fuel economy of a hybrid 7-passenger SUV is not much higher than a standard vehicle.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.