Gas prices are at an all-time high, averaging more than $4 a gallon across the US The easy solution is to just drive less, but that’s not practical for most families. Instead, many drivers are considering switching to a hybrid or an electric vehicle to cut down their fuel costs — but how can you know which is right for you?
In this guide, we’ll explore hybrid vs. electric vs. plug-in hybrid cars — their advantages, disadvantages and how to determine which is best suited to your needs.
What Is a Hybrid Car?
A hybrid car (or SUV or truck) is a vehicle that relies on both a gas-powered motor and an electric motor. You’ll still have to fill up at the gas station; in fact, running the gasoline-powered engine is the only way to power the electric motor.
Unlike true, 100% electric vehicles, hybrid models only have small lithium-ion batteries. When charged, these offer a short range of electric driving, but most of the driving done in a hybrid will come from the gas-powered internal combustion engine.
While driving, you can recharge a hybrid’s electric battery through regenerative braking. Every time you apply the brakes, the hybrid extracts and stores that energy and reuses it without gas power.
So while traditional gas cars are most efficient on the highway, with less stop-and-start driving, hybrid vehicles are actually more efficient in the city and in stop-and-go rush hour traffic, as they collect and reuse energy every time you brake.
The Toyota Prius is the most recognizable example of a hybrid, but nowadays automakers offer many of their popular gas-powered models as hybrid variants. Popular hybrid models include the Honda Accord Hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid and the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.
What Is an Electric Vehicle?
An electric vehicle (EV) runs solely on electric power generated by a high-voltage battery pack. Because there’s no gas to back up the electric motor if the battery runs out of…