As the automotive industry moves away from fossil fuels and adopts greener and more sustainable solutions, we can’t help but wonder if our shopping habits need to change, too. Are hybrids and electric vehicles really so different from their gas-powered forebears, or are there different things we need to be on the lookout for when buying one of these cars of the future? With many different body styles and configurations on offer, it is worth taking a look at what each has to offer and what you should be keeping an eye out for.
A Step In The Right Direction
Not quite as new and shiny as electric cars, hybrids have been around for a while now and have helped many car owners get over their reticence at abandoning the tried and true gas-powered automobile. Nowadays, when we refer to a hybrid, we usually mean the plug-in kind that has a battery pack and an electric motor. This is the common setup for all-wheel-drive hybrid cars, which are quite common in the USA. The hybrid powertrain helps to overcome many of the weaknesses of an AWD. These include a higher starting MSRP and a higher overall weight that can impact fuel economy.
However, this kind of all-wheel drive should not be mistaken for proper all-terrain capabilities, as the motor becomes all but useless once the battery pack is exhausted. After the all-electric range has been exhausted, these vehicles are no different than their fossil fuel siblings. In fact, they actually get poorer gas mileage thanks to all the extra weight of their electrical components.
The Complete Bionic Treatment
After seeing how effective some electrical assistance could be for a combustion engine, the next logical step was complete electrification. Nowadays, we have AWD electric cars in sedan, coupe, crossover, and even pickup truck body styles. Furthermore, they are no longer the clunky and cramped vehicles they used to be. Advances in EV technology have seen the introduction of smaller and lighter batteries, which means back-seat passengers no longer have to sacrifice most of their legroom. There is a lot more room for cargo in the trunks, too, and with the addition of the frunk (front trunk), some of these cars far exceed the capacity you’ll find in gas-powered variants.
However, many shoppers are not impressed by this alone. The significantly better miles per gallon equivalent fuel economy is definitely appealing, but limited maximum range and long recharge times put many people off. The burgeoning fast-charge network has helped to mitigate some of these concerns, but it’s still advised that EV owners install advanced charging stations in their homes. In many cases, this requires updating your home’s electric systems, which can compound the already higher cost of electric vehicles. Therefore, if you want to get the most value for your investment, you really must ensure that you get an EV with excellent mileage figures and a solid track record that will last long enough to recoup its purchase price and ultimately save you money.
An electric powertrain isn’t only good for improving efficiency and lowering fuel bills. It can actually be tuned to deliver an amazing driving experience, which is why we are seeing many new electric sports cars hitting the market. These models boast extraordinary horsepower and torque figures, but it’s their 0-60 mph times that truly astound. Tesla may boast that it has cars that can make this sprint in under a second, but there are quite a few that can do it quicker than almost any gas-powered car out there.
While there is definitely a case to be made for the sheer performance delivered, true petrolheads are put off by the detached driving experience. This is largely due to the lack of a roar from a V8 engine or similar. Many automakers have tried to create a synthetic soundtrack to make up for this, but it just doesn’t have the same impact. Most EVs also have a very different aesthetic that can be divisive among shoppers. On the plus side, many of the advantages of EV technology see these sports cars serve as better daily drivers than their gas-fed siblings.