Should I buy a hybrid car?(Extracts taken from Parkers Guide) Hybrid technology has been in the UK since around 2000, however you wouldn’t be alone if you’d never driven one. Although the small sale volumes initially caused many to doubt the new technology of electric powered cars, there are many benefits to choosing a hybrid as your next car.
Should I buy a hybrid car?Should I be considering buying a hybrid car, or are diesel cars the better choice? We will take a closer look at the pros and cons for both.
How do hybrid cars work?
With global warming and greenhouse gases all over the news you may be looking for the low CO2 emissions found in electric cars. But if you don’t want to be restricted on how many miles you can travel, hybrid technology offers the best of both worlds.
Hybrid cars combine an electric motor with a combustion engine (usually petrol).
Conventional hybrid cars use the electric motor to supplement the engine for improved acceleration, while regenerative braking helps recharge the batteries – this is available in cars such as the Toyota Auris and Lexus CT200h.
Although they do offer lower running costs and emissions than most diesel cars, conventional hybrids can only be driven for a very short amount of time on electric power alone.
What’s a plug-in hybrid?
Plug-in hybrids are a little different to conventional hybrids. They can be charged through the mains and have an indicated range where the car can be driven on purely electric power, significantly more miles than the conventional hybrids mentioned above – examples of plug-ins include the Audi A3 e-tron and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Another type of hybrid is a range-extender, rather than driving the car, the combustion engine recharges the batteries instead so you can travel further on electric power. A good example of this is the BMW i3 range extender.
The best way to think of these is more like an electric car with an on-board charger.
Is hybrid right for you?
Hybrids are at their optimum when being driven in urban settings.
Plug-ins and range extenders suit city life and driving as they have a lot more capability to be driven solely on electric power. When your speed climbs above a certain level or the battery begins to run out, the car automatically switches to the conventional engine to power the car and recharge its batteries.
What’s the VED car tax on hybrid cars?
Hybrids offer both lower running cost improvements and tax costs.
Legislation is only going to get tighter in years to come. In April 2017 the VED car tax bands changed. Only cars that emit zero emissions (electric cars) will remain tax-free.
If you live in London, some hybrid cars actually qualify you to be exempt from the congestion charge as long as they emit less than 75g/km which will currently cost you £11.50 per day.
There's also the savings on fuel - which potentially could cost you nothing if you only run your car using the electric range.
One of the perks of driving on electric power is that you have got 100 percent of the car’s torque from zero revs, meaning an instant reaction when you press the accelerator. There is also little engine noise to be heard from Hybrids.
However it is very important to make sure a hybrid car fits into your lifestyle. If most of your journeys in the car involve long motorway distances it is very unlikely that you will see the cost advantages we mentioned above.
Also, if you do buy a plug-in hybrid, remember that you will need to allow a fair few hours for charging each day (almost like your phone) if you’re planning on making the most of the battery power.
How much do hybrid cars cost to buy?
There is also the higher purchase price to consider. A hybrid car is almost always going to cost more than a comparable diesel – almost as much as 20 percent more - so you will need to travel a lot of miles in full electric and run your hybrid for a number of years to ensure you recoup the extra cost.
However, to help combat the higher purchase price of hybrids the government is currently offering up to 35 percent or a maximum of £5,000 off certain hybrid cars. To check if the car you’re looking to buy qualifies, check out the gov.uk website.
Hybrid cars - pros
• Minimal tax bills
• Congestion charge free (most are)
•No fuel costs if driven on purely electric power
Hybrid cars - cons
• Unknown Residual values
• Frequent Charging needed for small electric range
Should I get a diesel car instead of a hybrid?
Today’s diesel engine cars are a million miles from the dirty, clattery engines of old and not only are they more refined but they’re far more economical too.
One of the big pros to diesel engines is the fuel economy they offer. Although not as impressive as hybrid on paper, if you’re planning on driving a lot of long motorway journeys, diesel will in almost all cases be the more economical choice. In comparison to hybrids, diesels are almost always the cheaper choice to buy too - but there is fuel to consider and the higher tax bills and congestion charges to factor into your costs.
As of April 2017 it was announced that all diesel cars emitting 99g/km will have an annual tax bill of £140 to pay.
It is commonly accepted that diesel cars aren’t as quiet to drive compared to petrol or hybrid cars.
Diesel cars - the pros
• Cheaper to buy outright compared to hybrids
• Residual values are known
• Refuelling takes minutes at station compared to hours recharging batteries
Diesel cars - the cons
• Fuel costs
• High tax bills
• May not be quiet or smooth to drive