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It’s no secret that exhaust from fuel-powered vehicles is a major cause of pollution in our atmosphere. In an effort to reduce these harmful emissions, vehicle manufacturers are developing more and more electric and hybrid vehicles, which run on electricity or a combination of electricity and fuel.

If you’re considering making the switch to a more eco-friendly vehicle, take a moment to learn the pros and cons of both electric and hybrid cars before you decide which setup might be right for you.

Pure electric vehicles

Electric cars are powered by electricity from batteries or fuel cells. We’ll focus on pure electric (battery-operated) vehicles here.

Pros

Pure electric cars run solely on electricity and don’t release any emissions, so driving one will reduce your carbon footprint

Ditching the gas pump can save you a pretty penny (charging your electric vehicle isn’t free, but the cost is generally minimal compared to filling up a gas tank)

They tend to have less routine maintenance expenses than traditional or hybrid cars (they don’t need oil changes, for example)

Purchasing a pure electric car could qualify you for a rebate from your provincial government

Cons

Pure electric vehicles tend to cost a lot more than traditional and hybrid cars at the time of purchase, so while you’ll save on gas in the long run, you’ll be paying more up front

Because they’re powered by electricity and don’t have back-up fuel stores, they usually won’t travel as far as hybrid or traditional vehicles before needing to be recharged

Some electric cars need to be plugged in for as long as 12 hours (or longer!)

If you’re taking a longer road trip, it could be difficult to find a charging station where you can leave your vehicle for the length of time it takes to reach a full charge


Hybrid vehicles

Hybrid vehicles (also known as “gas-electric hybrid cars” or just “hybrids”) are powered by gas engines and electricity. Standard hybrids are generally charged by the gas engine and through regenerative braking (a process where braking generates energy and stores it for future use) and don’t need to be plugged in, while plug-in hybrids do need to be plugged in to recharge. We’ll cover both here.

Pros

Because hybrids run on a combination of gas and electricity, they create less pollution than traditional vehicles

You’ll spend less on gas than you would with a traditional car, since hybrids run on a combination of electricity and gas

Standard hybrid vehicles charge their own batteries and both standard and plug-in hybrids come with gas engines, so you can drive farther without having to worry about running out of juice

In a hybrid vehicle, the gas engine isn’t responsible for running the vehicle on its own like it would be in a traditional car, so engines in hybrids tend to be smaller, lighter, and more efficient

Purchasing a hybrid car could qualify you for a discount from your provincial government


Cons

Because hybrids use fuel in addition to electricity, they still release some harmful emissions

Hybrid vehicles typically cost more than traditional vehicles at the time of purchase, so while you will save money on gas in the long run, you’ll have a higher up-front cost

You may use more fuel than expected if you frequently travel further than your hybrid vehicle’s electric range will allow (or if you don’t have regular access to a charging station to keep your plug-in hybrid’s battery topped up)

Most hybrids are designed for economy, not performance — so a hybrid may not accelerate quite as quickly or offer the same kind of performance as a traditional vehicle

Should I buy a pure electric vehicle or a hybrid vehicle?

A hybrid is a good middle-ground between a traditional vehicle and a pure electric one. If you want to help the environment but also want the freedom to take an impromptu road trip whenever you want to, a hybrid might be the best fit for you. It’ll help reduce your carbon footprint when it’s running on electricity, but it also gives you the flexibility that comes with a gas tank you can fill up anywhere.

If you have access to a charging station at home or at work and your round-trip commute easily fits within an electric vehicle’s range, an electric vehicle might work for you. But if you live in a more rural area or frequently take longer trips in locations where charging stations are few and far between, you may want to consider a hybrid or conventional vehicle instead.

Thinking of switching from a traditional vehicle to a hybrid or electric model to reduce your carbon footprint and save on gas? Get in touch with your licensed car insurance broker so they can help you compare coverage options and prices before you drive your new eco-friendly ride off the lot.


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