Why not buy a hybrid vehicle?

Hybrids are seen as a slightly greener stepping stone to fully electric vehicles, with the internal combustion engine of hybrids seen more as a back-up solution to reassure drivers suffering from the notorious fear of running out of gas. While hybrids are gaining in popularity, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before you buy one.

The three biggest problems with hybrid cars

The gasoline engine

The gasoline engine in a hybrid car can be an advantage or a disadvantage. On the one hand, the internal combustion engine is the perfect reassurance if you suffer from range anxiety, providing a convenient backup if the battery runs out of charge. On the other hand, it still emits harmful CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, which is usually the main thing people want to avoid when buying an electric vehicle…

Having both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine means you have two drivetrains with their own maintenance requirements, which can complicate things if you need to make repairs. In addition, they are generally less powerful. One problem is when the batteries can no longer hold a charge.

You’ll need to buy a new battery from a dealer or refurbish your own at a mechanic’s or the car won’t run anymore, since batteries are part of the powertrain. A new battery can cost more than $2,370. And while a refurbished unit may be cheaper, it may not last as long.

Worse yet, there is no way to know when the battery may be dead. Many hybrids can go up to 250,000 km with their original battery, but some batteries fail as early as 150,000 km. At this point, buying a used hybrid vehicle can be a big risk.

A high cost for a lower handling

Although the price gap between ICE vehicles and hybrids is not as large as that between ICE vehicles and EVs, they are still more expensive, making cost one of the main drawbacks of hybrid cars.

Hybrid vehicles integrate two powertrains into one car, which means more weight, which can have a negative impact on fuel efficiency and handling.

Worth noting: Fuel economy is the strong point of the hybrid!

Insurance changes

Some insurance companies believe that hybrid drivers are less likely to be involved in an accident than non-hybrid drivers. Others give no special credit to hybrids for changing driver behavior. For example, some insurers offer reduced premiums for hybrid models, while others do not.

Some insurers may even charge more if their claims history shows that hybrid components cost more to repair if damaged. So it’s important to ask your agent what to expect. If your insurer doesn’t offer a discount for hybrid vehicles, or charges more, you may want to look for new coverage.

Temperature sensitive batteries

Batteries used in electrified vehicles cannot withstand extreme temperatures: excessive heat accelerates battery degradation, and extreme cold has a negative impact on battery life. In cold weather, hybrid batteries take longer to reach operating temperature, forcing the internal combustion engine to expend more energy.

In addition, as we know, the production of lithium-ion batteries uses rare earth metals, and the equipment used to extract them – especially bulldozers and other mining machines – runs on diesel, which goes against the idea of buying a hybrid to have a positive impact on the environment.

The good news: EV batteries can be recycled when they reach the end of their life cycle. The bad news: extracting reusable cells from batteries is a difficult and expensive process, which means there is still a long way to go before it can be done on a large scale, in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.

Do the math

Why not buy a hybrid vehicle?

We understand that there are many reasons to buy a hybrid car. For some drivers, it’s about doing something for the environment. But for buyers who simply want to save money, a hybrid car may not be the best option.

A Toyota Prius, for example, is several thousand euros more expensive than a Toyota Corolla of similar size. And even though it gets better gas mileage than the Corolla, it would take years to make up the price difference. In fact, depending on your driving style, it could take up to a decade – and that can make a hybrid much less attractive than a gasoline car.

In many cases, choosing a hybrid car is a good choice. But it’s important for buyers to know that modern hybrid cars still have some drawbacks.

What does this mean for the future?

Ultimately, the hybrid or electric car you buy today should be better for the environment than the one you could have bought several years ago, and the one you buy in a few years should be better than anything you can buy today.

Technology continues to improve, from more efficient manufacturing processes to less extractive mining techniques to changes in battery composition. In addition, industry and government regulations continue to force battery manufacturers to step up their efforts.

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