Advice

Benefits and downsides of owning an electric or hybrid car

If you're considering buying an electric or hybrid car, you might have heard quite a few arguments for and against them. We explain the positives and negatives of each, so you can see if an alternative fuel vehicle could work for you.

Words by: First published: 7th June 2018
If you're considering buying an electric or hybrid car, you might have heard quite a few arguments for and against them. We explain the positives and negatives of each, so you can see if an alternative fuel vehicle could work for you.
What are the benefits of owning an electric car?
EVs are considered more environmentally friendly as they don’t emit any exhaust gases or pollution at the tailpipe.

Currently there are government grants available which can help you with the cost of buying an EV.

EVs are easy to drive. You don’t really have a gearbox, and acceleration is smooth and quick to react. You can also drive them on automatic-only driving licences.

EVs are nearly silent to drive.

You can charge an EV at home – unless you live in a flat or can’t park your car close to where you live. But you can use a normal three-pin plug, so even if you can’t charge it at home, you’ll hopefully be able to find somewhere you can plug-in.
What are the downsides of owning an electric car?
Range anxiety is a problem. Most mainstream electric cars will do around 100 miles between charges, so if you want to do a long journey, you’ll have to do a lot of planning.

You have to charge an EV, which takes much longer than filling up a tank with fuel. Rapid chargers can usually get your EV to 80% charge in around half an hour, but most will take several hours at least.

If you don’t live in a house with a drive or garage, or have a charge point at work, it can be hard to find a convenient place to charge your EV.

Although you get zero emissions from the tailpipe of an EV, you do still have to produce the electricity to power them, and that will cause indirect emissions, depending on how the electricity has been generated. There are of course moves towards generating cleaner electricity, but this will take time.
What are the benefits of owning a hybrid car?
There’s not much difference between driving a ‘normal’ automatic car, and a hybrid, so you don’t have to compromise on your driving experience.

You don’t have to worry about range anxiety like you do with a fully-electric car. There’s a ‘normal’ engine you fill up with fuel, and unless it’s a plug-in hybrid, the batteries recharge themselves.

You can possibly see some tax benefits if you’re a company car driver. Cars emitting less than 75g/km of CO2 emissions are London congestion charge exempt.

The government currently has a grant for some types of hybrid cars, which will pay for 35% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £2,500.
What are the downsides of owning a hybrid car?
If you do a lot of miles, especially on the motorway, you’ll probably be better off with an efficient diesel car. You’ll get better fuel economy.

If you plan to buy a plug-in hybrid car, you’ll still need a place to charge, and to be able to charge your car for several hours a day if you want to make the most of the battery power.

A hybrid will be more expensive to buy than a comparable diesel car, so you might need to consider this too.