We live in an era of environmental consciousness driven by EV and hybrid technology. Even though mass production of EVs is still not on the horizon just yet, hybrids are a great way to transition between the archaic combustion engine and a full-on EV.
Hybrids are many things to many men, but no one can deny that there are lots of reasons we ought to skip buying a hybrid at this very moment. Ever since the 90s, hybrids have been improving at a constant rate, and we can safely say that today buying a hybrid is a good idea.
However, they are not perfect, and there are a few drawbacks worth mentioning. One of which is the high initial cost when compared to a combustion-engined car. Furthermore, it takes years for you to recoup the extra initial costs associated with a hybrid powertrain.
In addition to that, most hybrids nowadays are not made for car enthusiasts because they tend to be slow and heavy. Packaging is also a problem because most hybrids offer less cargo and interior space when compared to a regular combustion engine car.
High entry costs tend to discourage potential hybrid customers
Hybrids are often equipped with lots of clever fuel-saving technologies, but these technologies are expensive to develop. As such, these tend to increase the initial price of a hybrid, so much so that it is most definitely worth mentioning.
For a spot of context, you are looking at around $21k for a new gas-powered 2018 Chevy Malibu, but if you want the hybrid version, you’ll have to pay an extra $7k or so. These differences tend to vary between different models, but all of them are always a few thousand dollars apart.
To further illustrate the discrepancies, a regular gas-powered 2019 Ford Fusion carries a $23k MSRP, but a 2019 Fusion with a hybrid powertrain costs almost $28k. These price differences also tend to vary from one brand to another, either way, a hybrid still costs considerably more.
The illusion of recouping the extra entry costs with fuel savings
Many people tend to justify the increased entry price by recouping those very costs by saving on fuel. Even though this might work in theory, in practice, it is fairly hard to tell. First of all, it depends on the car in question primarily.
Some cars like the Toyota Camry Hybrid can recoup the extra money spent in just two years of ownership, but only if the gas prices are steadily on the higher end. On the other hand, if you bought the LC500h Lexus when it initially came out, you’d have to own it for 10 years before you recoup the extra entry costs.
Besides the initial higher costs, hybrids tend to cost more money to service and maintain. As such, these can drive the costs associated with a hybrid well over the costs associated with a regular gas-powered car. So much so that it could potentially take more than 10 years to recoup the extra costs.
Hybrids tend to be heavy, slow, and rather dull
Almost 10 years ago, the world was greeted with the so-called ‘’Holy-trinity’’ of hypercars. The Porsche 918 Spyder, the McLaren P1, and the Ferrari LaFerrari were the true flag bearers of the future. All three of these are equipped with conventional V8 or V12 engines mated with electric engines.
After the release of these three, people believed that the automotive industry will grace us with more affordable performance-oriented hybrid cars, but that simply was not the case. All we got was a new Honda/Acura NSX hybrid which hardly met anyone’s expectations.
This is because hybrids tend to be heavy, and added weight and performance are true arch-nemesis. Besides the added weight, hybrid cars tend to have an unnatural feeling power band, are not as agile, nor do they sound as good as a combustion engine on itself.
Decreased practicality due to packaging reasons
Most car manufacturers figured that the best way to use a hybrid powertrain is to use it in an existing chassis developed for combustion-engined cars. Such thinking enabled them to save quite a bit of money, but it also meant that the packaging can not be as efficient as it could be on a stand-alone hybrid chassis.
Because of this, most hybrids tend to sacrifice cargo and passenger space, so much so that it sometimes ruins the dynamics and the general practicality associated with a certain model. Even though this continues to improve as time goes on, it is still not financially feasible to develop a stand-alone hybrid chassis for most car manufacturers out there.
Are hybrid cars really all that efficient?
In today’s day and age, manufacturers tend to promise a 400 mile EV range, but in reality, you are only ever going to get 2/3 of that. This means that they tend to overpromise and falsely advertise because they can’t nor want to consider everything.
Be that as it may, hybrid cars are only efficient if you truly do use the electric engine to its maximum potential, but not all that many people do. This means that you are still relying on the combustion engine primarily, and the electric engine sometimes feels like a gimmick.
Are hybrid cars harder to maintain?
As mentioned previously, hybrid cars offer a lengthy list of interesting and space-age technology solutions, but these pieces of technology cost a lot of money to develop, moreover, they cost even more money to service and maintain.
If you consider that the average service shop has to buy brand new tools just to diagnose an issue with an electric engine, it seems like the increased maintenance costs associated with hybrids are justified, and most often than not, they are, but not for the owner.
Should I buy a hybrid?
Hybrids are designed to save you money, but only if you take all the necessary precautionary measures. First of all, try to take advantage of all the tax incentives associated with buying a hybrid, and try to maximize the potential of the electric engine.
In some congested cities such as London, you might not have to pay congestion charges and other costs associated with a regular combustion engine car anymore. Hybrids are not perfect, but if you can fully utilize the hybrid platform, you should certainly consider a hybrid as your next car purchase.