Should it be a Hybrid or an Electric Auto?

Posted on 19 April 2013 by Tony Santos


The general public is now more aware of environmental concerns and gas prices have risen. Alternatively-fueled vehicles have become much more popular, with almost 500,000 purchased in the United States in 2012, and hybrids and pure electric autos are the most readily-available options. Anyone seeking to purchase a car would do well to read the hybrid and electric car reviews by Motoring.

Hybrids use both a gas-powered and electric engine. The electric engine can be charged from a power supply but also generates energy itself from regenerative braking. The most popular hybrid in the United States is the Chevy Volt, while the most popular electric car is the Nissan Leaf.

One worry about electric autos can be put to rest. Their batteries use nickel, whose production is environmentally damaging. A leading car news website reported that the British newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, had published an article stating that a nickel factory at Sudbury in Canada devastated the environment to such an extent that NASA used it to simulate the moon in the training of astronauts. The newspaper removed the article from its website when a reader complained that the damage occurred more than 30 years ago, since when sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced by over 90 percent and the owner of the facility, Inco, has been praised by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and environmental groups.

Electric cars are eligible for a discount of as much as 50 percent on vehicle registration tax. Electric autos cost more, principally due to their batteries, but the cost of batteries will fall in the future and costs can be reduced by renting rather than buying them. Electric cars require less maintenance as they have fewer moving components.

Electric vehicles have limited range, causing “range anxiety” when greater distances must be traversed. The range can be as little as 40 miles or as much as the 265 miles of the Tesla Model S, but is usually around 100 miles. Electric cars would be fine for driving to work and running errands, but if you have to drive greater distances, a hybrid is preferable. You won’t be conducting road trips in an electric auto. A hybrid can manage around 400 miles, but every gadget you use diminishes battery life, from plugging in your iPod to turning on the heating or air conditioning.

You won’t have to ensure that you are home every night to charge a hybrid. Its use of gas entails that you’ll never be stranded. With electric autos, if you are home every evening and possess a garage with electricity, there’ll be no problem, but charging won’t be easy if you reside in an apartment or park on the street. Worse still, your day could be extended or you may find you have extra errands to perform. Charging points are becoming more widespread, particularly in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon, but time will be required before they are always to hand.

The choice between a hybrid or electric auto partly depends upon your location. Electric cars may produce no emissions, but require electricity that might have been generated by coal or natural gas, which produces greenhouse gases. More greenhouse gases can arise from charging an electric auto than driving an efficient hybrid. The key is whether your state uses nuclear or renewable energy. Electric cars won’t be the most climate-friendly option in Florida, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, or Texas. They would, however, be better in Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington.

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