Electric or Hybrid Car – Which is best?

It’s no secret that climate change is happening right now and Ireland  is going to miss EU targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions . The SEAI has reported that transport accounts for 37% of the country’s energy-related CO2 emissions. It’s predicted that transport and agriculture will account for 80% of all emissions by the year 2030 if things don’t change. Our government has created a Climate Action Plan that will bring Ireland closer to its emissions targets and are aiming for 100% of our vehicles to be electric by the year 2030. 

Reduced emissions are just one benefit of driving an electric car, there’s also government grants, no fuel costs, cheap charging and lower tax fees. However, some people prefer hybrid cars that  combine a conventional petrol or diesel engine with electric motor to considerably reduce emissions and fuel costs.

We’re exploring both options so you can see what’s right for you. 

Electric Vehicles 

As the name suggests, electric vehicles rely on electric power alone. Unlike hybrids, they do not have a backup engine that kicks in when the batteries run out. Extra space is created for batteries in EVs due to the missing engine and so they can offer a longer distance range than plug-in hybrids. 

Popular Electric Vehicles

  • Ford Focus Electric
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Tesla Model S.
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • BMW i3

Electric Vehicles Pros

1. There are government grants available for both purchasing and taxing electric cars.

Grants of up to €5,000 are available towards the cost of an electric vehicle costing over €14,000. Electric car owners can also claim up to €5,000 VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) relief.

2. There are also government grants available for installing home charging points.

You can also claim a €600 grant towards the cost of purchasing and installing a charging point.

3. Most typical electric vehicles travel distance range from 100km up to 500km on a single full charge.

80% of car journeys travelled in Ireland are less than 20km. If you’re travelling further than your battery can cover, there are currently 1,000 charging points across the country - some of which are fast chargers and can fully charge your battery in just one hour.

4. Running an electric car is one fifth of the cost of running a gas-powered car. In fact, you can save money by switching to an electric car. Here’s how:

  • Availing of government grants
  • Lowest available rate of motor tax at just €120 per year
  • No more petrol or diesel costs
  • Charging your eCar overnight at a home charging point costs on average €2 a night
  • Public charging stations are free to use until November
  • Discounts on toll fees 
  • It could be cheaper to insure an electric car

5. Electric cars are kinder to the environment and your health.

Electric cars produce none of the CO2 emissions associated with fossil-fuelled cars. This is better for the environment and your personal health.

Electric Vehicle Cons

1. eCars are still relatively new on the market.

Updates and new discoveries are still being configured.

2. Electric cars are expensive to buy.

Even with government grants considered, electric cars are new and expensive. They save you money in the long term but cost a lot to initially purchase.

3. Buying bigger sized batteries increases the cost of electric cars vastly.

Those with a long commute will be faced with purchasing a more expensive electric car.

4. The overall environmental impact of used-up batteries is not yet known.

Hybrid Cars 

Hybrids are vehicles that rely on 2 power sources - electric and fuel. They use less fuel than traditional cars because they also use an electric motor for power. There are three different kinds of hybrids:

1. Full Hybrids 

These use a fuel powered internal combustion engine combined with an electric motor to maximise the energy that is lost during braking. The energy is stored in a battery pack that provides the power for the vehicle to run on. The batteries are automatically charged while the vehicle is moving. 

2. Mild Hybrids

Although similar to full hybrids, mild hybrids are less efficient because the assisting battery motor does not fully take over. They are not powerful enough to propel the car without the fuel engine, instead they assist the fuel engine when more power is needed. When the car begins to slow down or is stopped, the control unit shuts down the engine, so the vehicle does produce any emission. As the car is put in gear, the battery starts the motor again.

3. Plug in Hybrids / Charging Hybrids 

Also known as PHEVs, these cars get most of their power from electrical energy stored in their batteries. PHEVs have the same hybrid system as full hybrids but with larger batteries. These batteries chargeable by plug as the name suggests and their larger size means they provide an increased level of energy allowing the car to run on electric power alone for up to 60km depending on the vehicle. 

Popular Hybrid Models

  • Toyota Prius V
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Ford Fusion Energi
  • Kia Optima Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius C
  • BMW i8

Hybrid Car Pros

1. Hybrids are more environmentally friendly than traditional cars.

One of the biggest benefits of driving a hybrid car is that it creates less emissions than gas powered cars and so has better gas mileage which makes it more environmentally friendly. 

2. Hybrid cars can save you money. 

Plug in hybrid electric vehicles / PHEVs also qualify for a government grant of up to €5,000 for vehicles costing over €14,000. The same grant also applies for installing a home charging point. In general hybrids use less fuel than traditional cars so you’ll save money on gas in the long term too. 

3. Hybrids have regenerative braking system

Using the brakes in your hybrid car will help to recharge your battery. Each time you break an internal mechanism captures the energy released and uses it to charge the battery helping to reduce the amount of time and need for stationary charging. 

4. Built from Light Materials: 

Hybrid vehicles are made up of lighter materials which means less energy is required to run. The engine is also smaller and lighter which saves on energy too. 

Hybrid Car Cons

1. Hybrid cars have less power

Hybrid cars have a twin powered engine. The fuel engine is the primary source of power but is much smaller as compared to that of a single engine powered car and electric motors are low power too. The combined power of both is less than that of gas-powered engine. Hybrids are best suited for city driving and not for speed and acceleration.

2. Hybrid cars are expensive 

Hybrid cars are more expensive than a regular petrol car and are relatively new on the market so there are not as many preowned ones available. When buying a suitable hybrid, it needs to cost at least €14,000 to qualify for the government grant. 

3. Poorer handling

A hybrid car contains a gas-powered engine, a lighter electric engine and a pack of powerful batteries. This all adds weight to the car and eats up the extra space. This weight causes fuel inefficiency and causes manufacturers to cut down weight resulting in motor and battery downsizing and less support in the suspension and body.

4. Hybrid cars can have higher maintenance costs 

Some mechanics may find it difficult to repair a hybrid due to the advanced technology and dual engines. Not all mechanics will have experience working on hybrid vehicles and you might need to attend a specialist garage.

Electric or Hybrid Car?

When it comes to choosing between an electric car or a hybrid car it really depends on your personal preference. Do you want to do more for the environment? Is the car suitable for the kind of driving you do? Can you afford it? Will you save money? Ask yourself these questions and consider the pros and cons of both options to make an informed decision. 

Tip: Want to start saving but an electric car isn’t an option for you right now? Here are some other ways to save petrol with your car starting now. 

Whichever car you’re driving get an online car insurance quote in an instant with AIG and enjoy free benefits as standard including breakdown assistance, driving of other vehicles and step back bonus protection. 


Related Articles