Ten years ago, hybrid and electric vehicles were anomalies on our Texas roadways. Today, as they become less expensive and more widely produced, they are becoming fast sellers across nearly all demographic markets.
The environmental benefits, superb efficiency, lower maintenance, and better performance are driving sales across the country.
However, some important questions remain when weighing the benefits versus the costs of owning and operating a hybrid or electric vehicle, and our Austin personal injury attorney has answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the pros and cons of these cutting-edge automobiles.
What is the Difference Between Hybrid and Electric Vehicles?
The difference between hybrid and electric vehicles is much like it sounds:
- Hybrid vehicles can run on electricity for a limited distance before switching to gas/electric hybrid mode.
- Electric vehicles run exclusively on electricity.
What Vehicle Brands are Available in Hybrid or Electric Options?
Most car manufacturers are developing their version of a hybrid or electric vehicle to compete, just as they would any other type of gas-powered car, truck, mini-van, or SUV.
That means popular car companies like Chevrolet, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Mitsubishi have either a hybrid or fully electric vehicle — or both — available for purchase.
Luxury vehicle manufacturers like Tesla, BMV, Lexus, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes, Land Rover, and even Porsche also have a hybrid or fully electric vehicle — or both — available for purchase, albeit at a higher price point.
Are Hybrid and Electric Vehicles Really Better for the Environment?
One main reason drivers consider hybrid or electric vehicles is to avoid pouring carbon dioxide back into the air, thereby becoming environmental stewards.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, some popular hybrid and EV models produce 200 grams per mile, which is about the same amount of greenhouse gas pollution.
The reality is, if the harmful emissions are not coming from the vehicle, they may be transferred to the power source, and emitted from the local utility’s smokestack, since more energy is being used to charge them.
How Long Does It Take to Charge a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle?
Charging times for hybrid and electric vehicles vary greatly.
The size of the battery, the voltage and amp of the charge, how much charge is needed, and where the vehicle is being charged will all factor into how long it takes to “refuel.”
For instance, if you are charging your electric vehicle at home, on a 120-volt outlet, it could take all night — literally. Household outlets typically provide four miles of driving for every hour of charge.
On a Level 2 charger — which many e-car drivers opt to have installed once they buy the vehicle — the typical 240-volt, 32-amp source will fully charge an electric vehicle in nine and 13 hours.
Some systems, like Tesla’s High Power Wall Connector home charger, charge much quicker, but are designed for Tesla’s Long Range electric vehicles.
There are also public DC fast chargers popping up throughout the country that can replenish up to 50 percent of the battery’s range in 30 to 45 minutes.
How Far Can I Go in a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle Without Recharging?
Hybrid vehicles can switch from electric to gas immediately and can be refueled with petrol at any time, making them a little more versatile than electric cars for long trips.
Currently, most electric vehicles operate within a 200-mile range before they need to be recharged. However, the overall mileage varies based on the operator’s driving habits, speed, weather, and climate control inside the vehicle.
Tesla is currently the only automaker that offers electric vehicles with over 300 miles of range and holds the record with its Tesla Model S with up to an EPA-rated 402 miles per charge.
What Do I Need to Know About Electric Vehicle Maintenance?
Electric cars require less maintenance than gas-powered cars.
Since there are virtually no fluids, and it is outfitted with friction brakes and a long-lasting battery, these vehicles operate on a charge-and-go low-maintenance platform.
However, and this is important, in the rare event that an electric vehicle’s battery needs to be replaced, the cost can range from $5,000 and $16,000, without labor costs included.
The good news is, federal regulations require automakers to cover an electric vehicle’s battery for eight years or 100,000 miles, but it is important to read the fine print of any warranty, as exclusions always apply.
How Much Does it Cost to Insure an Electric Car?
Insurance tends to cost more for electric cars than traditional cars — not for safety reasons —because of their inherently expensive purchase price.
The insurance company will consider several factors, including the loan amount when applicable, and the repair costs if their policyholder is in a car accident. Remember, the battery alone can cost over ten thousand dollars for some models, which is one of the most expensive repairs insurance companies will have to cover.
What are the Federal and State Incentives to Purchase an Electric Vehicle?
The federal Internal Revenue Service tax credit is for $2,500 to $7,500 per new electric vehicle purchased for use in the U.S.
The size of the tax credit depends on the size of the vehicle and its battery capacity.
In Texas, lawmakers enacted a program to help promote the sale of electric vehicles authorizing a $2,500 incentive for their purchase under the TCEQ’s Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
Does it Make Financial Sense to Purchase an Electric Car Instead of a Gas-Powered Vehicle?
Buying a hybrid, electric, or gas-powered vehicle is a personal decision that can be made by weighing your driving needs — including how far your commute is, or the availability of charging stations in your area — against the increased upfront purchase price and whether you are willing to endure the expense to replace the battery in a decade or so.
If you have questions about recovering the expenses of your hybrid, electric, or gas-powered vehicle after a collision, contact our skilled Austin personal injury attorneys at Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys by calling (512) 883-0277 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation with our bilingual staff who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure your legal rights are protected. Call us today. We stand ready.