Hybrid vs. Electric Vehicles – How do the Costs Compare?

hybrid vehicle

Today, nearly every auto manufacturer offers some version of a hybrid vehicle that combines an electric engine with a traditional gasoline-powered engine. There’s little question that the future of the automobile industry includes some measure of electrification. But pricing is one of the bigger questions floating around on that topic.

Hybrid vehicles allow consumers to use much less gasoline than standard combustion (gasoline-powered) engines and emit a lesser amount of CO2 into the environment, while still relying on the combustion of fossil fuels for their motivation.*

Although the options for greener cars have increased over the years – providing not only standard economy cars, but larger SUVs as well – carting around two powertrains (no matter how well integrated they are) will never be the most efficient solution. While these vehicles have lower emissions and require less frequent trips to the gas station, they still have maintenance and gasoline costs. Although you won’t spend as much as the average person, you will still be paying something.

The demand for hybrids has brought the average cost for each vehicle down, which allows more individuals the opportunity to purchase one and essentially save money in the long run due to reduced trips to the pump. Hybrid vehicles typically run in the $30,000-$45,000 range, depending on the make and model you desire.

Some pundits believe that the hybrid vehicle is just a stepping-stone toward an electric car that doesn’t depend on combustion. That being said, electric vehicles are not really a futuristic concept. Some of the first automobile prototypes only used electricity to run their engines. The only problem was that they didn’t run very fast, nor did they run for very long without a need for recharging. That’s why the traditional engine using petroleum replaced all electronic forms of transportation.

With the rising cost of fuel and the depletion of natural fossil fuels, this concept has been revisited frequently in the last decade.  Unfortunately, manufacturers have found that to produce anything that would be remotely suitable for transit, would cost the consumer a small fortune once completed and ready for market. When the first marketable electric car hit the market, it was priced at nearly $110,000. The upside to paying this kind of cash is that there wouldn’t be any fuel costs at all for the life of the vehicle.

Today, there are more reasonable fully-electric vehicles on the market – like the Nissan LEAF. Starting from $21,300 after federal tax savings, this baby gets 129 city and 102 hwy MPGe**  It is completely gasoline and oil free and will travel, based on conditions, up to 100 miles before recharging!

Another moderately-priced offering is the Model S from Tesla Motor Company at just under $50,000. It is a sleek, quiet vehicle that never needs refueling and will travel up to 300 miles without having to recharge, which really only takes 45 minutes total to complete. The Tesla model S is the first in its kind to be an electric car and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds, as well as being able to hold up to seven passengers.

Both the hybrid and the electric car are economical forms of transportation once the initial cost has been paid for, but when electric cars like the LEAF and the Tesla become the norm, the cost benefits will be unchallenged.

*A supplementary electrical system takes some of the energy that would be wasted or otherwise lost under braking, stores it in a battery, and then uses it to help power the vehicle at some later point.

**Based on EPA formula of 33.7 kW/hour equal to one gallon of gasoline energy, EPA rated the LEAF equivalent to 129 MPG measured as gasoline fuel efficiency in city driving, and 102 MPG in highway driving. Actual mileage may vary with driving conditions – use for comparison only.

image courtesy of Auto Kiosk Groen Mobiel

Hybrid Cars vs. Electric cars
Which one is right for me?

The Nissan LEAF & The Acura ILX

With the focus on renewable resources these days, the decision to buy a hybrid car or an electric car should be an informed one!  There are big differences between these types of vehicles – much more than between hybrids and non-hybrid cars.


First, let’s take a look at structural and mechanical differences.  Hybrid cars run on a combination of a gas or diesel engine and one or more electric drive motors.  These electric drive motors can power large or small engines and typically get more miles per gallon of gasoline or diesel (mpg) than non-hybrids.  The battery charges when braking or stopped while the ignition is still on; this is called regenerative charging.  Some manufacturers have guaranteed the batteries up to 100,000 miles.  They also have lower tailpipe emissions, producing approximately 90% less pollutants than non-hybrids.

On the other hand, electric cars are powered by an electric motor, with power stored in one or more batteries.  They need to be plugged into a power source, preferably a high voltage line for a quicker charge (2-3 hours).  They need no oil or gasoline, usually have no tailpipe and produce no emissions.


The driving range of your vehicle is definitely one of the most important to consider before purchasing.  If you are a commuter who drives less than 40 miles each way, an electric car may be a great solution to your gas usage/cost/planet conservation issues.  The range for most electric cars is 80-100 miles before needing a complete charge, and the charge takes approximately 6-8 hours to accomplish.  For families on-the-go within a small range of miles, electric cars are definitely the shape of the future.  As electric cars gain in popularity, networks of charging stations will be seen and used all over the country.  Currently, the west coast of the US leads in charging station availability.

Conversely, hybrid cars are repowered the same as any non-hybrid – at the gas station.  There is no set range of miles the hybrid car can go and no charging stations involved.


As above, most hybrid cars perform regenerative charging while they are running, so no charge is necessary.  On the other hand, electric cars need to be charged quite often.  Again, this depends on your usage – if you run the battery down completely every day, then you will be charging your vehicle overnight at your home and paying the lower electric rates.  It typically takes 6-8 hours to do a full charge of your electric car battery.  Out and about, electric cars may need a quick charge here and there and there are more and more networks of charging stations popping up all over the US.  However, electric car owners benefit from not needing gasoline or oil in their cars, so instead of watching your gas meter on the dashboard, you’ll be very conscious of how much battery power you have left!


Hybrid cars need to be maintained in virtually the same manner as non-hybrids.  The electric car, of course, has no oil and less moving parts – so there is less maintenance.  The batteries in both types of vehicle must be replaced.  The electric car batteries usually last 5-7 years depending on the owner’s charging habits.


Both types of vehicles have higher starting prices than their non-hybrid/non-electric counterparts.  There has been much said about whether the higher prices paid by buyers are really worth it.  Most articles are favorable as to achieving the buyer’s goals.  Most buyers of hybrid or electric cars usually have some pre-conceived goals in mind when they are ready to buy:  they want to spend less money on gas, they are environmentally conscious – so they want lower or no emissions, and they want to benefit from any federal and/or state incentives given for purchasing such cars.

Ultimately, the benefits achieved from your hybrid or electric car are tied to your usage, particularly for the electric car.  For example, what distance you drive, what speed you go, the amount of air conditioning or heat used, or even radio usage directly affects drain on the battery.  Trade-in or sale value on your hybrid or electric car depends on the length of time you plan to keep it.  As Hybrid-car.org states, “it is not abnormal for a hybrid car to run like new when it has 250,000 miles on it.”  The electric car, due to its small percentage of moving parts, can last beyond that and still run like new.

As with all new technology, prices on both types of vehicle are expected to come down as the technology becomes more widespread and available.  Also, tax credits are making both vehicles, but especially the electric car, more affordable.

Some last thoughts

  • Driving a hybrid car is the same experience as driving a non-hybrid car
  • Electric car considerations – commuters and family hops around town are best uses for an electric car
  • The electric car is a surprisingly quiet ride!

At Tischer, we carry both the brand new Acura ILX, which is Acura’s first Hybrid car, as well as Nissan’s electric car, the LEAF.

Click here to take Nissan’s brief questionnaire to determine whether an electric car would be a good fit for you!

If you’ve determined that the LEAF is a good fit for you, check out our blog on the 2013 Nissan LEAF for more specifics about that amazing car!  Since seeing is really believing, come on over and take a test drive in one of our new hybrids or electric cars and see for yourself.

We would be delighted to show you what a perfect fit either one of these types of vehicles would be for you!  Simply click below to schedule a test drive!

Schedule Your Test-drive Today!

In the meantime, please share your questions, thoughts, and comments with us below.  We would be glad to discuss these with you as soon as possible!