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The Way To Decide Between Getting A Gas, Hybrid, Or Electric Car

Food (or should we say “fuel”) for thought: Not all that long ago, the major difference in car engines pertained to the type of fuel you put in it – gas or diesel. Easy enough, right? But not so today, when environmental concerns and a desire to reduce fossil fuel dependence have resulted in increased availability of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Car choices can seem overwhelming, but knowing the difference between conventional gas engines, hybrid, and electric vehicles can help you make the best decision for not only your budget but also your lifestyle.

Check out some of the pros and cons of each type of vehicle before you hit the road to your local car dealership.

Photo: Shutterstock/RossHelen

Gas Vehicles

Most of the cars, SUVs, and trucks on the road today use a conventional internal combustion engine powered by gasoline or diesel fuel. The gasoline engine relies on many moving parts that come together to propel the vehicle, and this type of engine remains popular with drivers because it delivers both power and performance.

The benefits of traditional gas vehicles are the lower purchase price, higher range of 300-400 miles per full tank of gas, more power for accelerating, towing, and hauling, as well as gas stations being frequent for filling up. The drawbacks to these are the higher emissions which are worse for the environment, and the gas is a non-renewable energy source.


Photo: Shutterstock/otomobil

Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles combine the benefits of gas-powered engines and electric motors. Because this type of vehicle uses a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric motor and battery to supplement the vehicle’s power, it delivers better gas mileage and releases fewer emissions than a traditional gas-powered car. Hybrids employ not only the auto start and stop and regenerative braking that electric vehicles use to maximize fuel economy, but also electric power assist. The hybrid’s electric motor delivers power to help the engine when a boost is needed such as when accelerating, passing another vehicle, or climbing. This additional assist allows manufacturers to use a smaller, more efficient gas engine.

The benefits of a hybrid are increased fuel economy, decreased emissions, less frequent fill-ups, and potentially higher resale value. However, considering the higher purchasing price, less acceleration power and the engine technology can mean more costly repairs at the body shop.

Photo: Shutterstock/Smile Fight

Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) use batteries to power the motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Underneath the hood, you’ll find a battery, a controller that converts the battery power and passes the current to the motor, and an electric motor that takes energy from the controller to power the motor and move the vehicle. Electric vehicles use auto start and stop that automatically turns off the engine when the vehicle stops and restarts it when the accelerator is engaged, thereby reducing wasted fuel when the vehicle is idling. In addition, EVs use regenerative braking that recaptures the energy lost while coasting or braking, harnessing the forward motion of the wheels to help stop the vehicle.

The benefits of electric vehicles are no pollution, fewer engine parts to replace, there is less need for routine maintenance like oil changes, as well as the convenience of at-home charging. But also consider the possible drawbacks such as the higher price than gas vehicles, limited driving range per battery charge, the charging time can take 4-8 hours, and charging stations are not as common as gas stations.