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Hybrid vs. electric cars: how to decide which one is right for you



Electrification – supply of batteries and electric motors to the car's powertrain – is not just a niche time anymore. What began with the original Honda Insight and Toyota Prius has grown to include vehicles of all shapes and sizes, with myriad onboard technology, mainly centered on a goal: Efficient driving with lower emissions. It is a good time to shop for these types of cars because there is more to choose from and they are better than ever.

Hybrids and fully electric vehicles have many other advantages, from federal, state and local tax incentives ̵

1; even though they are being phased out for some brands – to increase HOV access and much reduced maintenance on clean electric cars. There is, of course, the potential for expensive (if rare) battery costs.

With so many new types of electrified vehicles entering the market today, it is important to note the differences within this hugely important space. We break out the different types of electrified vehicles on the market below, explaining their advantages and disadvantages, and presenting examples of each.

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS uses a 48 volt battery that acts as a soft hybrid system.


Mercedes-Benz

Mild hybrid

A mild hybrid system is the easiest and most cost-effective way to add electric drive components to a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE). In a soft hybrid system, ICE will often shut itself off completely under no load conditions, such as throwing on a hill or coming to a stop. The hybrid system allows ICE to be started immediately immediately and can operate additional systems on the vehicle, eg. stereo or air conditioning. Some spleen hybrid systems will contain regenerative braking or provide power assistance or torque filling to ICE, but all lack the ability to run solely on electric power.

Advantages

  • Can operate many of the car's electrical systems.
  • The stop-start system saves fuel during idling.
  • Can reduce the turbocharger gene by torque filling until engine is running.
  • Lighter
  • Disadvantages
    • Increased cost and complexity compared to internal combustion engines.
    • No full EV function.

      The Toyota Prius is probably the best known example of a serial hybrid.


      Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

      Series Hybrid

      The serial hybrid – also known as a power or parallel hybrid – is what people like when they think of a hybrid vehicle. These use a submerged ICE to provide power at higher speeds and at higher load conditions, and a battery power system to move the vehicle at low speeds and low load conditions. This means that ICE can work in its ideal efficiency range, which provides excellent fuel economy, especially in the city's driving conditions.

      Advantages

      • Excellent efficiency at speeds around the city.
      • Petrol powered ICE for longer range (and longer travel).
      • Offers a good compromise between efficiency, usability and overall cost.
        • Typically higher cost than a pure ICE-driven vehicle of the same size.
        • Maximum efficiency means reduced power.

        Example

        Chrysler Pacifica is the first electrified minivan and it happens to be a plug-in hybrid.


        Wayne Cunningham / Roadshow

        Plug-in hybrid

        Plug-in hybrid is the next logical step forward from the series hybrid system. These cars go closer to the entire electric vehicle side of the continuum, with the possibility of moving further distances on electric power alone. The plugin portion of their name comes from their ability to connect to an electric car charging station, rather than relying only on ICE and regenerative battery power braking, effectively eliminating anxiety. Another area where plug-in hybrids differ from either mild hybrids or serial hybrids is the size of their battery pack. This gives them their expanded EV-only range.

        Advantages

        • Elevated range of battery powered vehicles (BEVs) due to an extended petrol engine.
        • Lower purchase cost compared to BEV.
        • Lower driving cost compared to serial hybrids.

        Disadvantages [19659010] More expensive to buy than the series' hybrids or mild hybrids.

      • Larger battery packs mean more weight.
      • More complex than mild hybrids.

      Example

      Each individual Tesla model is a battery electric car. 19659005] Tim Stevens / Roadshow

      Battery electric

      Battery electric vehicle is mostly what they sound like: A large battery with at least one electric motor connected to it. Oh, and lots of complex software to handle thousands of individual cells that make up the big battery. Mechanically speaking, BEVs are the least complex of all vehicles we cover when you consider that even the simplest multicylinder combustion engine has many hundred moving parts, while an electric motor only has its rotor. Pure electric vehicles are becoming increasingly common thanks to innovation from relatively new companies such as Tesla and industry stalwarts such as General Motors and Nissan.

      Benefits

      • Mechanical simplicity means less maintenance than ICE.
      • Toner with immediate torque.
      • Almost silent operation.
      • Electricity is cheap, for now.
      • No venting tubes, therefore no emissions and
      • Disadvantages
        • More expensive than similar size series hybrids or ICE vehicles.
        • Limited area] The charging station's infrastructure is still up and coming.
        • Out of date for most people if you do not have a charge of 240 volts Level 2 in your home or parking lot.
        • Higher weight than vehicles of the same size.
        • Uncertain environmental impact for disposal of batteries. ] Example

          Honda's Clarity Fuel Cell is one of only a few fuel cell cars available for sale today.


          Honda

          Hydrogen Fuel Cell

          A fuel cell takes hydrogen and oxidizes it to create an electric charge which is then channeled into a battery and used by electric motors. This technology has been in cars for a few decades, but due to costs, the size of the components and a relative lack of infrastructure, not many companies are still working on it. Miniaturization of technology in recent years has made hydrogen FCV more commercially viable, and we are starting to see more interest from manufacturers like Honda and Hyundai.

          Advantages

          • No reason to load;
          • Quiet operation, much like a BEV.
          • Only emissions are water.

          Disadvantages

          • Water prices vary wildly, often more expensive than fossil fuels.
          • Limited refueling network outside selected cities such as Los Angeles or San Francisco.
          • Liquid tanks can eat in the passenger compartment or cargo space if the vehicle is not designed from the base of fuel cells.


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