Hybrid cars pros and cons

Hybrids are a hot topic at the moment - learn the pros and cons of hybrids quickly

Jul 3, 2018

Hybrids might seem like a relatively new invention, but they’ve actually been around since the start of the nineteenth century. They were then popularised by mainstream manufacturers in the late Nineties and turned into what we know today.

In their most basic forms, hybrids combine electric power with a traditional engine. This theoretically gives you the low emissions and smooth power delivery of an electric car, with the long-distance abilities of a traditional petrol or diesel car.

This combining of electric and petrol/diesel power has a huge effect on something that every owner cares about too - mpg. The archetypal hybrid, the Toyota Prius, has an official fuel economy figure of 90mpg. That’s 20 or so mpg better than even the most frugal diesel powered car of a similar ilk. Hybrids also offer lowered emissions in comparison to petrol and diesel powered cars, which is better for the environment, and better for company car tax too. Plug-in hybrids offer even more economy because they can, wait for it, be plugged in. You can read more about plug-in hybrids here.

Hybrids need to be taken with a pinch of salt however. Real-world fuel consumption is never as high as manufacturers make out, and it’s the same for hybrid cars. Fuel consumption on hybrid cars vary wildly depending on how you drive them, as well as where you drive them. They’re certainly more economical than regular cars around town, but on the motorway, it’s a different story.

Hybrid cars fuel economy pros and cons

Pro

✔  On average, hybrids can achieve much better fuel economy than petrol powered cars. For instance, the Toyota Prius can get around 70mpg, even in real world testing. To put that into context, a similar sized petrol Toyota Avensis only gets around 40mpg in similar testing. 

Con

Hybrid systems use something called regenerative braking. This recharges the battery when the brakes are used - which means in town you get better mpg because you're braking more. This also makes hybrid cars' advantage dissipate when on long motorway journeys with fewer opportunities to brake. Diesels are much more economical on long journeys.

Hybrid cars performance pros and cons

Pro

✔   Simply put, adding electric power to a car gives it more power. And electric power is instant, giving you a real shove in the back. Hybrid cars geared for speed, like the BMW i8, can be devastatingly fast.

Con

The batteries required for hybrids are heavy. Generally, heavier cars feel less agile than lighter ones, and aren't as rewarding to drive as a result. If you drive a petrol powered car back to back with a hybrid version of the same car, you can feel the additional weight through the steering wheel

Hybrid cars image pros and cons

Pro

✔  Image conscious celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio are always flouting their green credentials, and you can too with a hybrid. Hybrids also tend to look very modern and often come in eye-catching colours.

Con

Some people don't like to show off their credentials as it's seen as trying to hard. There's also the very real worry that if you drive a Toyota Prius in London, you'll be mistaken for an Uber driver.

Hybrid cars value pros and cons

Pro

✔  If you use less fuel, you'll save yourself money. It's as simple as that. You can really save some dosh with a hybrid if you regularly travel short distances in built up areas. And with some plug ins you rarely have to use petrol at all. 

Con

Hybrids are generally more expensive to buy, and sometimes negate any fuel savings. For example, a BMW 5 Series hybrid commands nearly a £9,000 premium over petrol powered cars.

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