Electric Vehicles vs. Hybrid Cars

If you’re weighing the options for cars with better fuel economy on the market, you may be considering both electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids. EVs and hybrid cars strive to move away from the gas-powered engine to save owners money spent on fuel and reduce total fuel emissions.

Both types of car have their benefits as well as their drawbacks. The technology is newer, so infrastructure for cars that run off electricity is a work in progress, and maintenance for the more-complex battery systems can be expensive. However, there are some federal, state, and local tax incentives available to approved cars, as well as HOV/carpool lane access in certain areas.

When deciding between an EV and a hybrid, it’s important to understand what qualifies them as a hybrid or EV, their differences, and the pros and cons to owning either.

Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid cars are a combination of internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) and chargeable electric cars. They feature both a traditional engine fueled by gasoline and rechargeable battery functionality. Hybrids receive power from either both engine types for optimized power or solely one depending on the driving style of the user.

There are two main types of hybrids: standard hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Within the “standard hybrid” umbrella there are also mild and series hybrids, each differing in its incorporation of electric-powered vehicle technologies:

Mild Hybrids

Mild hybrids add small levels of electric components to the ICE-powered car. When going downhill or coming to a total stop, such as at a stoplight, a mild hybrid’s ICE might shut off entirely, especially if it carries a light load. The ICE restarts on its own, and the electric components of the car help power the stereo, air conditioning, and, in some models, regenerative braking and power-assistance. However, at no point can it run exclusively on electric power.

  • Pros: Mild hybrids can save fuel expenses, are relatively lightweight, and cost less than other types of hybrids.
  • Cons: They still cost more than ICE-only cars in purchase and repairs and lack full-EV functionality.

Series Hybrids

Also known as a power split or parallel hybrid, series hybrids use a small ICE to power the vehicle at high speeds and when carrying heavy loads. A battery-electric system powers the car in other conditions. It strikes a balance in optimal ICE performance and fuel efficiency by only engaging the engine when it will work best.

  • Pros: Great for city driving, series hybrids only use gas for faster, longer drives, and are often very affordable in combined terms of fuel efficiency and price.
  • Cons: Due to the complexity of electrical parts, series hybrids remain more expensive than traditional vehicles of the same size and often have a reduced power output.

Plug-in Hybrids

Plug-in hybrids have the capacity to charge at electric-vehicle charging stations. Though they still have ICEs and use regenerative braking for battery power, they can drive longer distances powered exclusively by an electric motor. They also have a larger battery pack compared to standard hybrids, making them heavier but allowing them to use electrical power to greater advantage and overall driving range.

  • Pros: Plug-ins have an extended range compared to battery-electric cars because of the additional gas-powered engine, are cheaper to buy than most EVs, and cheaper to run than standard hybrids.
  • Cons: They still cost more to purchase than standard hybrids and traditional ICE cars and carry more weight than standard hybrids with the larger battery pack.

Overall Expense

  • Fuel: Since hybrids run on fuel as well as electricity, there remains fossil fuel expenses that can be limited depending on driving style. Hybrids can switch from electric to fuel-power, which gives them an extensive range in certain cases. For instance, a driver is more likely to run out of electric charge before running out of gas.
  • Maintenance: Hybrids retain all the maintenance issues ICE car owners face in addition to the risk of battery replacement costs. They can be more cost-effective when it comes to gas prices but have similar maintenance costs to traditional cars.

Electric Vehicles

According to Seth Leitman, an electric car expert, the newest generation "deliver[s] zero-emissision vehicles with enhanced power, range, and safety." EVs are powered by a large battery with at least one electric drive motor wired for power and a complex software system to manage the battery. They are less mechanically-complex than ICEs but more complicated in battery design. EVs have a higher fully-electric power range than plug-ins but don’t have the extended gas-powered range.

  • Pros: EVs have a low maintenance cost due to structural simplicity, and offer a nearly silent drive, cheap electric fueling options (including in-home charging), and zero emissions.
  • Cons: Still a work in progress, EVs are pricey and limited in range with long charging times. Owners need a home charger, and the overall environmental impact of used-up batteries is not yet known.

Overall Expense

  • Fuel: Electric vehicles save owners money on fuel costs so long as they have a home charging station. Currently, electricity is cheaper than gas, and the electricity needed to charge the car goes on household electricity bills.
  • Maintenance: Many maintenance costs for traditional cars are irrelevant to EV owners due to the lack of a combustion engine. However, owners still need to watch their tires, insurance, and any accidental damage. The EV’s battery can also cost a lot to replace if it degrades after the car’s battery warranty period.

Electric Vehicle or Hybrid Car?

Choosing between an electric vehicle or a type of hybrid comes down to individual affordability, which depends greatly on driving style. Electric vehicles don’t have the same benefits to those with frequent long drives when compared to plug-in hybrids, or even internal combustion engine cars. Tax benefits and rebates are applied to both EVs and hybrids, but the total savings amount varies between states and localities. Both reduce the number of emissions and cut back on gasoline engine use, but pros and cons remain for both types of cars. The choice comes down to your own driving needs.


Next Step

Schedule Oil Change

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Oil Change. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Oil Change reviews

Excellent Rating

(21,699)

Rating Summary
20,382
845
179
87
206
20,382
845
179
87
206

Matthew

33 years of experience
991 reviews
Matthew
33 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Oil Change - Hampton, Virginia
Matt always does a great job. Very professional. I look forward to my next appointment.... A++++++
Ford Expedition - Oil Change - Hampton, Virginia
I am so please to have Matt work on my vehicle, he is very friendly and personable, and always does a great job.

Greg

22 years of experience
37 reviews
Greg
22 years of experience
Audi A3 - Oil Change - Queen Creek, Arizona
Job well done! Greg was on time and professional. He treated my vehicle with care. He completed the job smoothly and so far so good. First time using Your mechanic and it was a pleasant experience. I will be looking into them again. Thanks Greg!
Ford Explorer - Oil Change - Scottsdale, Arizona
Greg was very friendly and professional. Communication was great, he let me know what he was doing. He went above and beyond to make sure everything was running smoothly. I would 100% recommend Greg!

LAVELL

27 years of experience
93 reviews
LAVELL
27 years of experience
Buick Encore - Oil Change - Oakland, California
Another home run! Really appreciate the flexibility regarding my service appointment. Due to my work schedule I desperately needed a late appointment. So grateful my car is receiving top shelf professional service. Replaced a oil pan drain plug that was seriously damaged and stripped by a competitor that will NEVER get my business again! All services were quickly completed. Thank you so much for another great experience with my.... Your Mechanic Lavell 5 ⭐️ Service consistently.

Brian

23 years of experience
483 reviews
Brian
23 years of experience
Porsche 911 - Oil Change - Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Brian is extremely knowledgeable and very personable and has taken very good care on my 911. I would recommend Brian to any one who has mechanical car challenges. I would recommend Brian to all My friends and family

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

A Buyer’s Guide to the 2013 Acura ILX Hybrid
Acura Acura returns from a spate of years devoted to the higher-end luxury market, and they do so in style with a car that practically invents its own segment. The ILX Hybrid is the half electric portion of the brand...
A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Porsche Panamera Hybrid
Porsche Porsche is known for its prestige, power and performance, and its hybrid introduction to the Panamera line does not disappoint. While its hatchback design may put some off, the interior is nothing short of spectacular with well-appointed materials that...
5 Most Affordable Electric Vehicles
Not all EVs come with the big price tag. These 5 affordable electric vehicles provide the right amount range for the cost.

Related questions

Car involuntarily accelerates 2-car lengths 1 out of 100 times

Hello. This can be a dangerous issue and does happen on this vehicle. Typically I have repaired this with updating the computers in the vehicle. Some of the time when the degeneration is not working correctly it is because the...

Why would there be 4 warning signs appearing in my 2010 hybrid

Hello. I would need to know the model of the vehicle to be able to give a better diagnosis as to what is going on. If you have warning lights that came on all of a sudden then the computer...

Car shut off and remained unresponsive since then - 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid

Hello. The PCM is a potential cause of the problem that you are experiencing. The PCM is the main computer for the car and could be malfunctioning. There could also be a problem with the electric motor of the hybrid...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com