I have a decision to make. Should I get gas or electric? Or maybe a hybrid. I’ve always had gas, but maybe it’s time to move to electric. There are so many things to consider before making my next purchase.
First there is the price of gas. Last time I filled up my tank it cost $4.53 per gallon for regular unleaded gas. It cost me fifty bucks to fill my tank.
Wait, what? Oh, you thought I was talking about a cooktop, a stove, right? Sorry if I misled you. I’m talking about an automobile.
My ten year old car is reaching the point that the maintenance cost and the costs to replace failing or severely worn parts on the near horizon are looming. I took my car to the dealership for a routine service and was told that I need new tires all around, the brakes will soon need to be replaced, there are oil leaks, and the turbocharger is on its last legs. The cost for all of that came to…well, a sizable chunk of chain.
So I’m thinking that it might be time to get a new car. But nowadays, the choices are not as simple as they used to be. And at my age, the next car I buy will likely be the last car I buy, so I want to make a smart decision.
Should my next car be a gas powered vehicle with an internal combustible engine, a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), or an all electric vehicle (EV)? That is the question.
A gas powered car is less expensive to buy and gas stations for a fill-up when needed are conveniently everywhere. But the price of gas continues to soar and internal combustion cars are pollution machines.
And then there are hybrid cars. These cars are powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, which uses energy stored in batteries. A hybrid electric vehicle cannot be plugged in to charge the battery. Instead, the battery is charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine. These hybrids are more expensive than gas cars, and while they are more “environmentally friendly,” they still produce pollutants.
Another category is plug-in hybrids (PHEV). They use batteries to power an electric motor and gas to power an internal combustion engine. PHEV batteries can be charged using a wall outlet and the car runs on electric power until the battery is nearly depleted, usually from 30 to 50 miles, and then the car automatically switches over to use the gas engine.
For people with short commutes or who only drive to and from the grocery store or to visit local family and friends, these PHEVs, while more expensive than gas cars and regular hybrids, may be a good alternative. However, once the fully electric range is exceeded, we’re back to gasoline.
Finally, there are all electric vehicles (EV). Electric cars function by plugging into a charge point and taking electricity from the grid. They store the electricity in rechargeable batteries that power an electric motor, which turns the wheels. Electric cars accelerate faster than vehicles with traditional fuel engines, so they feel lighter to drive.
The advantages of electric cars are:
- They are better for the environment; no pollution — zero emissions — from an internal combustion engine
- Electricity can be a renewable resource, gasoline cannot
- They require less expensive and less frequent maintenance (no oil changes, fewer moving parts, no spark plugs)
- They are quieter than gas vehicles
- There are significant federal (and some state) tax credits available for owners of electric cars
- There are special highway lanes in some places (e.g., California, where I live) for electric cars
The disadvantages are:
- Electric cars have a shorter range than gas-powered cars
- Recharging the battery takes time
- They are usually more expensive than gas-powered cars
- It can be difficult to find a charging station, which means having to spend $500-$1,500 to professionally install a home charging station.
So here’s what I’m thinking. Full electric. Yes?