When the Toyota Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, hit the market in 1997, no one could have foreseen how successful hybrids would become. We no longer see them as pretentious vehicles, but rather the eco-friendly option for the everyday driver. But just when we thought hybrids were good, let’s bring in battery-operated electric vehicles. And even though EVs have been around since the 1800s, they only started seeing mass popularity in the late 1990s with Tesla and GM EV1.
With both hybrids and EVs, the question remains as to why the market hasn’t phased out one in favor of the other. Obviously, there is a balance between the pros and cons of the two that keep both types of cars on the road. But if you were to go to the dealership today, which one would you take?
If you’re a long-distance driver, driving ranges are going to be incredibly important to you. How far can you drive in an EV compared to a hybrid before having to recharge/fuel up?
Baseline Driving Range Comparison – Hybrid vs. EV
The driving range of the vehicle mostly depends on what fuels the car and its motor.
Electric vehicles (EV) fully use electricity to drive the car. The huge battery packs deliver electricity to the power management system, car accessories, and inverter. The inverter converts DC to AC to power the electric motor.
Examples for this type of vehicle: Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt.
The Plug-In Hybrid’s (PHEV) primary drive shaft is connected to the electric motor and combustion engine. Typically, hybrid vehicles use both an electric and combustion engine in conjunction with each other, with the battery acting as more of an assistant to the combustion engine.
When the car accelerates from 0-100 KmH, it uses the electric motor to provide instant torque. When the car reaches higher speeds, the combustion engine kicks in, replacing the electric motor to drive the car. If you need it to, the vehicle can switch to full-electric or gasoline. Very useful for when you’re running out of fuel or battery juice.
Examples for this type of vehicle: Toyota Prius Prime, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Even though the combustion engine is inefficient and emits carbon, the hybrid combo offers a superior driving range to electric vehicles. The Toyota Prius Prime is the fuel efficiency king with a total driving range of 1,030 kilometers or 640 miles.
An EV uses a huge battery pack to power its electric motors, making it more eco-friendly. But they lose to hybrids in terms of driving range. The EV that has the longest range is the Tesla Model S Performance with 620 kilometers or 387 miles.
These numbers come from each category’s best-performing cars at ideal conditions. But there are many factors outside the engines that determine their maximum driving range.
Performance in Cold Weather
Cars should be able to work efficiently, even in extreme seasonal temperatures. Still, extreme temperatures affect the driving range of both vehicles.
Car batteries typically have an operating temperature of 59°-95°F. Anything below 59°F will slow down chemical reactions inside a battery, making it perform worse. As a result, the cold temperature will cut your driving range by 10%-50%, depending on how extreme it is.
A hybrid vehicle’s combustion engine performs better than normal in cold weather. Cold air means oxygen molecules are packed tightly. More oxygen molecules and less water vapor make a better combustion process. However, you won’t be able to use the hybrid vehicle’s electric motor to its fullest, so you can’t experience that instant torque acceleration.
In the case of extreme cold, hybrids will take you farther than an EV.
You can’t drive all those miles without refueling. How do these cars compare when it comes to recharging their batteries?
EVs have huge batteries, around 30KwH – 100KwH. If you use a common 120V outlet to charge your EV, recharging will take a long time. To charge it efficiently, you need big volts and big amperes. Tesla recommends 240V and 50 amperes outlets to charge your EV. With that voltage, you can charge your EV from 0 to 80% in about 30 minutes.
Hybrid vehicles are mostly combustion engine, with electric motors acting as an assistant. Refueling combustion engines only takes 5 minutes at the most. Open the fuel cap, put the refueling nozzle in, pull it out when done, close the fuel cap. It’s that simple. Because the battery in a hybrid isn’t that big, it doesn’t take long to charge it. It’ll usually take somewhere around 15 minutes to 1 hour.
Overall, hybrid vehicles win in this category, but not by a large margin.
The hybrid is the best of both conventional and electric vehicles, giving it superior driving range and performance. So why even bother getting a strictly battery-operated car, then? EVs are more environmentally-friendly and help you save more money in the long run (since you don’t have to stop for gas all the time). So what you don’t get in driving range, you save in money and carbon emissions. So, back to the dealership. Which one do you choose? Well, if long-distance, eco-friendly driving is your game, then the hybrid is your perfect car.