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Pros And Cons of Investing in a Hybrid Car

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Without a doubt, cars are one of the most important methods of transportation available. Airliners may be the preferred choice for long-range travel, but on a strictly national level, wheeled vehicles are by far the most commonly used solution, with more than 20 million driving on Australian roads last year.

With such a high number of cars, it’s not hard to imagine that a portion of them are hybrid-electric vehicles or HEVs.

Despite being a relative newcomer to the global markets and automotive industry at large, hybrid cars are already establishing themselves as a viable alternative to conventional petrol or diesel vehicles. With continuous R&D done by various manufacturers, their capabilities improve with every release – in many areas, HEVs are already equal or superior to traditional cars. But does it mean you should start looking for secured car loans and get one such hybrid vehicle yourself?

To help you make a decision, we’ve prepared a list of advantages and drawbacks these sorts of cars usually have. But before we start, let’s clarify one misconception.

There Are Three Different Types of HEVs

When most people think of a hybrid car, they usually think of a vehicle combining two different power sources: a classic internal combustion engine and batteries that store electricity. What many don’t know is that this type of automobile can be further divided into three types of hybrid electric cars. The differences between these are bigger than you might have thought.

Full Hybrid

Otherwise known as FHEV, this class of hybrid cars is the original one and was made very popular in the world by the Toyota Prius. A full hybrid can run on either its petrol or diesel motor or use the energy stored in the batteries. Most commonly, it uses a mix of both. The battery is periodically being recharged when the motor is on and running.

Plug-in Hybrid

A PHEV is a type of hybrid vehicle that is very similar in terms of operation to the FHEV. It can also be driven using either power sources or in combination. The biggest difference between these two types is that PHEV has the option to charge its batteries directly from the grid energy – meaning that theoretically, you can use it as an EV-only vehicle for shorter distances.

Mild Hybrid

This type of HEV cannot use the electric power source alone – it always runs in conjunction with the traditional engine. What that means is that drivers get lower fuel consumption and emissions, and in some cases, a smoother engine operation.

Now that you understand that not all hybrids are made equal, we might as well start with the most visible drawback of hybrids.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles Are Generally More Expensive Than Their Conventional Counterparts

Perhaps the biggest drawback of HEV, when compared to the same “normal”  models, is that the upfront costs you need to cover to get one tend to be higher. The reason here is the added costs of new EV components. In essence, all these new parts, such as more extensive electrical cabling, the new transmission, or the battery packs and electric motors, need to be completely integrated into the vehicle that already has a normal combustion engine.

To illustrate the point, one of the most popular cars in Australia, the Toyota RAV4 GX 2WD from the 2022 model, normally starts at a little over 34000 AUD. The very same one, but with a hybrid electric motor, raises the price tag by $2500 to almost $37000. For some, such an increase in pricing may be better spent by getting a higher version of the petrol model – the GXL, which comes at $37,825.

Moreover, take into account that the RAV4 is still a very affordable vehicle. Other, more luxurious cars tend to have a much larger normal-hybrid price range, i.e. the difference between Lexus NX250 Luxury and the NX350h is $5000. But before you discard the hybrid vehicles as too costly, you should take into account the savings later on.

Hybrid Cars Let You Save Money (Unless the Batteries Die)

Although the upfront sum necessary to buy an HEV is higher, in some cases, it can be more than made up by the cost reduction in terms of fuel. Although petrol or diesel consumption is largely dependent on how you drive, even the basic mild hybrid is going to be more efficient due to the inclusion of the electric system. Once you factor in that FHEVs and PHEVs can utilise the batteries to drive, the savings are going to get even more substantial.

Moreover, the vehicles’ engines are subjected to less strain due to the reliance on two power sources instead of one. That means when properly exploited, individual engine parts should take longer than usual to break down, resulting in a further decrease in maintenance costs.

On the other hand, if something happens to the battery system, changing it can be rather costly. To give you some numbers, Toyota’s Camry and Prius models have most of their battery replacements priced at below $3000. That’s an investment much higher than most usual repair jobs traditional car engines require, although there’s some hope that cheaper battery alternatives might appear soon.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles Aren’t as Efficient Outside of the City

Hybrid cars are great for owners living in towns and cities because they utilise the low-speed torque of the electric motor to increase your savings when it comes to stop-start traffic.

Unfortunately, this advantage is mostly lost in the rural regions as your car simply won’t be stopping nearly as much on the open road as it does in major urban centres. It’s a well-known fact that classic combustion engines get more economical when cruising, but because hybrid vehicles are heavier due to the inclusion of the battery systems, that fuel economy advantage might be simply lost here. What’s more, due to the country’s sheer size, FHEVs and PHEVs might simply not have enough charge to be useful in the electric mode outside of the cities.

As you can see, the answer to the question of whether it’s worth getting a hybrid electric vehicle largely depends on your needs. If you live in a large city, drive short distances and aren’t afraid to pay more upfront, the answer is probably a clear yes.

On the other hand, if you live in a rural region, the advantages of HEVs for you most likely won’t be that big aside from the reduced maintenance costs. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide if you want to buy one of these environmentally friendly cars. Hopefully, once the state-offered incentives get better, the choice will be much easier. Good luck!