Hybrid and full-on battery-powered transportation options are becoming a mainstay in North America. They are eco-friendly with their lack of emissions, they are safe, and they are arriving NOW. There may still be disadvantages for some drivers and owners, but with increasing options and progressing tech, we're seeing increased efficiency and comfort that will entice more people to "go electric."
We already have a plethora of electric-only vehicles with Tesla and others, but popular brands like Subaru are about to jump on the stage. So, why is it beneficial that we all have electric or hybrid cars in the future, other than saving the world?
- An electric vehicle (EV) is an all-electric car that is powered by a battery. These cars need to be charged and have a range limit due to the battery. Electric vehicles can have ranges from 240-640km depending on brand and battery size.
- A hybrid vehicle uses fuel and a hybrid battery, which charges using kinetic energy while you are in traffic and on the road! Hybrids get great gas mileage ranging from 13-22km/L.
Range anxiety can play a role in whether you want an electric or hybrid vehicle, but both kinds of cars are paving the way for the future.
- Regenerative Braking: One benefit of hybrid vehicles is the battery science. Traditional hybrid batteries cannot charge off an outlet, so regenerative braking is needed to charge it! Every time your car stops, it charges your hybrid battery, improving range and increasing fuel economy.
- Auto Start and Shut Off: When your hybrid stops, it also shuts off the engine and switches the power to your hybrid battery. This eliminates idling and wasting fuel, increasing your fuel economy!
- Dual Power: Dual power allows the car to run off the battery, the engine or both depending on the situation. The electric motor is used at low speeds, the engine is kicked on as you accelerate, and if you need the extra power both the battery and engine will turn on at once. This makes up for the smaller motor when needed but allows for maximum fuel economy at normal speeds.
- Financial Benefits: A hybrid will still use fossil fuels, but it will save you money in the long run. The increased fuel economy from the battery will up the efficiency while still delivering some of the power that a traditional combustion engine will have.
- Environmentally Sound: A hybrid reduces the carbon footprint of driving. With dual power, it makes the car more efficient and lowers emissions while driving! With this comes less dependence on fossil fuels. Owners will find themselves driving more and using less gas than ever!
- Light: Hybrids are made with lighter materials so they can conserve energy on the road. A lot of modern hybrids are made with recycled materials, and the smaller engine all factor into less weight, providing a smoother and more efficient ride!
- Less Power: Your traditional hybrid packs less power than a combustion engine. This is slightly made up with dual power, but the horsepower is still down on hybrids.
- Battery Replacement: If your hybrid battery runs out, it can be pricey to replace. You would rarely need to replace batteries, but when you do you could be looking at an expensive replacement. The batteries are also hard to recycle, because they are extremely large, and it is not cost effective to repurpose the lithium batteries. However, federal mandates force the recycling of these batteries for ecological purposes.
- Rechargeable: Electric Vehicles don’t use fossil fuels and instead opt for a charging port that charges your car like you would your cell phone.
- Quiet: There is no combustion in electric vehicles, so the cars stay extremely quiet on the road.
- Great Range for Commuting: EV’s are perfect for commuting, with the average range being 291 kilometers. A lot of businesses are installing charging ports, so you can charge while you work!
- No Fossil Fuels: Electric Vehicles run on electricity using lithium batteries, so there is no need for fossil fuels! Electricity is cents on the dollar compared to gas, so this will save you lots of money in the long run.
- Lessened Emissions: Electric cars have 0 emissions! Since electricity is used to power the car, there is no combustion and no carbon footprint.
- Wireless Charging: We aren’t too far away from better battery and charging technology, but wireless car charging is right around the corner! Companies are working on the technology now, but it seems like it will be here sooner rather than later.
- Better Performance: Combustion engines may be slightly quicker than EV’s, but the performance will only get better as technology progresses. With the slight reduction in speed, this also brings a much quieter ride overall.
- Federal Tax Credit: There is a substantial tax credit for battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, depending on the battery capacity. If you lease, the credit goes to the manufacturer. However, dealerships often factor it into the lease, lowering the down payment or monthly payments.
- Not Enough Charging Ports: A major issue that can thwart the growth of EV’s is the lack of chargers. People experience range anxiety as a result. These cars need to be charged every couple hundred kilometers, so EV’s aren’t the best for long road trips.
- Range Anxiety: Electric Vehicles are practical for commuting, but on long road trips drivers can experience range anxiety. This comes from worrying if your car can make it to the next charging station or destination. When the anxiety sets in and there are no charging ports, this can easily turn to range panic.
- Long Charging Times: New technology can revolutionize charging in the future with car charging pads and fast charging, but until then, you are looking at about an hour long stop to recharge your vehicle. This can be impractical when travelling long distances.
- Manufacturing Issues: Batteries and chips are in high demand, making it much more difficult to obtain these resources to produce new cars. This should hopefully pick back up after the pandemic and as production ramps back up.
- Solterra: The Subaru Solterra is the first Subaru EV with 0 emissions. Its name is derived from the Latin words Sol (sun) and Terra (earth). The Solterra features all your standard Subaru tech such as X-Mode, Eyesight Driver Assist, Blind Spot Detection, and more all with a range of over 320 kilometers. The Solterra also features fast charging, meaning it can reach 80% charge in less than an hour! For those with range anxiety, the car features an app that locates charging stations for you, so you can plan your trip with the charging stops. This SUV aims to be the cornerstone of all Subaru Electric Vehicles in the future.
- Crosstrek Hybrid: The 2021 Crosstrek Hybrid is the perfect blend of EV and Hybrid. With charging capabilities and a combustion engine, the Crosstrek Hybrid delivers the best of both worlds without compromising performance. This hybrid can be ran off of a charge or off of fuel, increasing fuel economy significantly! Unfortunately, the range is only 27 kilometers off the battery charge.
How long have Hybrids been Available?
- Automotive hybrid technology became widespread beginning in the late 1990s. The first mass-produced hybrid vehicle was the Toyota Prius, launched in Japan in 1997, and followed by the Honda Insight, launched in 1999 in the United States and Japan.
How Long Do Hybrid Batteries Last?
- Most hybrid batteries should take drivers about 100,000 miles. With excellent maintenance, some owners can push this number to 200,000. Warranties typically extend to about the 100,000-mile mark, so manufacturers do expect this to be the upper limit on battery life. Budgeting for a new battery as you begin to approach 100,000 miles is the smart choice.
Do Hybrids Require Additional Maintenance?
- Most hybrid cars do not require any additional regular maintenance on the hybrid-specific components. The gasoline engine in a hybrid vehicle requires the same maintenance that it would if it were the only power source driving the vehicle. That means regular tune-ups and oil changes every 5,000-10,000 miles, depending on the vehicle and the driving conditions. One important hybrid benefit is that ordinary vehicles need to have their brake pads changed regularly. But hybrids' regenerative braking systems eliminate much of the wear on the mechanical brakes, so their brake pads typically last much longer.