The Low Down on Gas vs. Electric vs. Hybrid Cars

By Mike Richards Posted: 10/31/2017

Eco-friendly vehicles are becoming more and more common, mainly due to the American consumer base becoming environmentally conscious. These cars offer a smaller carbon footprint, which many drivers appreciate, and are more fuel-efficient than traditional vehicles, as well.

Based on extensive research, it’s been shown that electric vehicle drivers can save more than $10,000 a year on car ownership costs when compared with those who drive gasoline automobiles. There are a few different findings that may be surprising to you.

Essential Research Findings

Driving an electric vehicle can save you 36% over five years. An all-electric car is significantly cheaper to operate and use when compared to both hybrids and gasoline vehicles. Part of this is based on the federal tax credit available to electric car owners, but even if you ignore that, the electric automobile costs less to own.

It also costs less to operate. Over a five year period, an electric car owner may spend up to $5,000 less than a gasoline-powered owner will. It can also cost a couple of thousand less to operate than a hybrid vehicle. Of course, most of this value comes from not buying gas, which is a huge source of operation costs for both hybrid and gasoline vehicles.

Owning an electric car is cheapest in North Carolina and most expensive in Michigan. Why? This is mostly because, in Detroit, owners spend a substantial amount on high insurance premiums.

Important Considerations

When it comes to electric cars, most qualify for $7,500 as a federal tax credit. This alone makes them a budget option. However, there are a few things to be aware of before dropping money on a used electric car, and not all of them are good news.

  • Leasing or buying a used electric vehicle does not qualify you for the tax credit. No passing go and gaining $200 (or $7,500 in this case). The credit is only for new owners, unfortunately.
  • You don’t get the money when buying a new car, either. It comes as a tax credit when the time comes around to send in those W2s.
  • Some states offer incentives for those who buy electric or hybrid vehicles. Check the incentives available in your area to see what is available.
  • One common state incentive is the ability to drive in a high-occupancy lane without passengers. Another is free parking for electric cars in metered spots.

You also need to consider that any car requires insurance. That said, some companies offer a discount for those who drive electric or hybrid vehicles. Two major insurance companies that are known for discounts are Farmers and Travelers which both knock 10% off your bill for driving either. This may not be available in every state, however, so be sure to do a little research.

Safety Considerations

Research shows that electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles tend to get in more accidents with bicycles and pedestrians. However, they also show those accidents are often slow speed accidents.

Other research notes that hybrid vehicles have better safety than gasoline vehicles because they are heavier, on account of their batteries and miscellaneous equipment. Based on research by the IIHS, those in hybrids are 25% less likely to be injured in an accident when compared to gasoline and electric vehicles.

One place this is especially important is in regard to insurance premiums as safer vehicles may lead to lower quotes, at least in some cases.

Repair Costs

One other factor to consider is that electric and hybrid vehicles are often more expensive to repair than gasoline vehicles. There are two reasons for this. One is that labor charges can be more substantial, as there are often fewer employees capable of doing the repairs. The other is that the parts are more expensive in many cases than the parts for a traditional gasoline-fueled car.

When considering a used car, it’s not a bad idea to leave your options open. Hybrid and electric vehicles are popular nowadays, and many people are interested in owning one. Just be sure you know all the pros and cons before you jump in. Do your homework and consider your options, and you’ll be just fine.