Drive Green

EVs vs Hybrids

When moving from driving a petrol/diesel car to some it may seem like a hybrid is the best choice for you – a middle ground compromise or less of a complete change. On some occasions, this may be the case, however more often a fully electric car will be most suitable for you.

Fully electric is the future. To use an analogy, a Hybrid car is like a Nicotine patch for the traditional car user, nervous about giving up fossil fuels completely. A hybrid vehicle has to carry all the weight of a normal internal combustion engine plus the weight of an electric motor and battery. This makes the car heavy and reduces efficiency.

As the battery and motor have to be fitted into the space around the petrol engine and fuel tank they are often limited in size. This reduces electric range and minimises the performance benefits inherent to an electric motor.

If you are considering a hybrid because you are worried about range then there are some things to consider.

How often do you really perform long drives and is a range extender EV or battery only BEV more suitable to me?

One of the biggest reasons to move to an electric car is the savings in tax, servicing, and fuel. With a hybrid, you are not guaranteed free road tax, you will still have to buy petrol, and most importantly, you still have to service the complicated combustion engine.

An electric car requires minimal servicing as it only has two or three moving parts in the motor. A petrol motor has hundreds of moving parts, litres of oil, coolant that needs replacement, and fan belts that break.

For the small group of people who regularly drive further than the electric range of their car we often recommend a range-extended EV (REx) such as the BMW i3. In this set-up, the car is a normal electric car except it has a small (backup) generator used to top up the batteries if and when required. This allows you to drive further without stopping. It also allows you to top up with petrol and continue driving if necessary.

Many people order a range extender and later find they never use the petrol motor. However, if the security of a petrol back-up is what you need to make the move towards a greener future, then we are happy to help you out, and also supply used range extender vehicles.

As the range of pure electric cars gets bigger and bigger, range extenders are becoming increasingly irrelevant, just like a hybrid will become.

If you are unsure which type of vehicle is right for you, give us a call to discuss your options.

Full Electric Vs Range Extender Vs Plug-in Hybrid

Electric Cars come in three types:

  • Full Electric (EV)
  • Range Extender Electric (REx)
  • Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)

Full Electric Cars (Pure EVs / BEV)

Runs solely on an electric motor and battery Features:

  • Free road tax and cheap to run
  • The greenest option
  • Lots of torque and instant power
  • Flat battery packs in the floor allows for lots of interior space
  • One, reliable power source, only 2 or 3 moving parts in an EV motor
  • Almost no servicing. No spark plugs, oil and filters, clutch, or fan belt

An electric car is suitable for most drivers. The majority of car travel is under 20 miles. Electric cars can be charged whilst you are asleep or at work and allow you to have maximum range every day, be that 100 or 250 miles. This type of EV is suitable for almost all daily use and commuting, with occasional long journeys.

Range Extender EV (REx)

Runs on an electric motor and battery like a fully electric car. A REx also uses a small (petrol) engine to generate electricity for extra range or to hold the battery power

  • For those who fully need extra range
  • The engine acts as a generator to create electricity
  • Lightweight, simple engine
  • Adds extra maintenance
  • Most of the benefits of an EV with the possibility to extend the range
  • Eliminates range anxiety as you can always top up with petrol

Range extender vehicles are the next greenest alternative to a fully electric vehicle. A range extender is a small petrol generator used to top up batteries. This small generator will allow you to continue a journey using petrol, even when you run out of electric range. The other great use for a range extender is to run the engine on the motorway in order to save battery power for city use.

The downsides to a range extender are twofold:

  • You are carrying the weight of the backup engine at all times, even when just using electric power. This decreases the efficiency of the vehicle and reduces the electric-only range
  • There is still a complicated petrol engine onboard the vehicle which requires regular servicing. This negates a lot of the servicing cost savings of an electric vehicle.

Plug-In Hybrid

Runs on a small battery and electric motor. When extra power or range is required, the car runs on a standard (full size) petrol engine. Requires a gearbox and all the many hundreds of moving parts used by a conventional vehicle

  • Limited Electric range due to space and weight considerations
  • Two drive sources to worry about
  • Have to drag around the full weight of a petrol engine at all times
  • Petrol engine is the main source, electricity is the secondary addition
  • Used for drivers that regularly cover many hundreds of miles per day

A plug-in Hybrid is suitable for some drivers. Namely, those who drive very long distances regularly or for work. The problem with plug-in hybrids is that you are carrying two technologies at all times.

Most plug-in hybrids use a standard petrol engine car and try to squeeze in batteries and a motor. The problem with this is that the battery and motor have to be limited in size. This generally provides a small electric range and less impressive electric motor performance. We only recommend a plug-in hybrid for those that drive hundreds of miles regularly or those who feel very committed to petrol engines. Generally, anyone that is considering a plug-in hybrid will enjoy living with a range extender EV.

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