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3 Things to Think About When Buying an Electric or Hybrid Car

Before you buy an electric car, it's important to check that it's something that would work for you, or if a hybrid might work out better....

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular around the world and there’s good reason for that. In the long term, they will save you money, but there are things to think about before buying one, like for instance if a hybrid might suit your needs better.

First, for those unaware, the difference between hybrid and electric. The main difference is that one needs to be charged (EV) and one still requires petrol (hybrid). The hybrid has a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) paired with an electric motor that is charged via regenerative braking.

1. Range and Charging Availability

electric car charging

This in particular relates to those residing in Australia as we are well behind as a nation when it comes to infrastructure to support EVs. An EV cannot go as far as a traditional ICE can on a single charge/petrol tank. That wouldn’t be such a problem if there were more public charging stations, but as it stands if you’re planning to go for a long drive, a hybrid would have the advantage.

In addition, not all EVs are created equal as some have a power and range of just 6.1kWh for 90km but can also boast 100kWh of power and a range over 600km. The charging times will also vary depending on both the type of charging stations used and the battery. For example, a standard 70kWh battery would take 10 hours to fully charge with a 7kW charging point. This is something you don’t have to worry about with a typical hybrid, though some still do require charging.

Whether you rent or own your home will also make a difference. If you own your home, you can install a charger and charge your car overnight, while this isn’t something you would have to worry about with a hybrid.

2. Running Costs (Fuel and Maintenance)

In terms of running costs, this is where the EV shines. Let’s look at the Kona Electric which has a 64kWh battery, if the average cost for electricity is $0.28, it will cost you $17.92 to fully charge it. This will provide a range of about 450km.

Compare that to a hybrid with a good fuel efficiency rating like the Toyota Camry Hybrid with a combined consumption of 3.8-4L/100km and compare it to a suitable petrol subcompact SUV which demands around 8L/100km. If you drove 1,000km per week, the petrol-powered SUV would require 4,160 litres of fuel, costing $6,864 (assuming a $1.65 national average fuel price). The hybrid would only use 2,080 litres, saving you around $3,430 in fuel over a year.

Fuel is one thing, but what about maintenance? EVs have very few moving parts so you don’t need to change the oil, replace the spark plugs, or anything like that. Whereas a hybrid will still require all the usual maintenance of a regular car. If that’s something that bothers you then an EV removes that hassle, though it doesn’t stop them from having issues unique to themselves, like buggy software.

3. Initial Costs

Both hybrids and EVs are more expensive than standard ICE-powered cars. You will save money in the long term, but during the short term, you’re going to have to cough up a bit more. The reason is the rare earth metals required in the batteries alongside the technology needed to make it work.

If you’re in Australia, there are federal incentives that can ease these early costs with the new Electric Car Discount providing up to $2000 off the purchase price. However, if that still doesn’t work for you, generally speaking, hybrid cars will be cheaper than EVs.

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