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Hybrid or Electric Vehicles: What’s the Cheapest and Most Sustainable Option?


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The switch to electric vehicles has been one of the core pillars of the energy transition so far and for good reason.

Data from transport and the environment shows that cars and vans alone accounted for 16% of EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Domestic transport vehicles account for 72% of total EU road transport emissions.

Clearly, something has to change. We cannot continue to drive petrol and diesel vehicles that are destroying our planet.

Plug-in hybrids have been an established option for over a decade. They combine a fuel tank with a battery, which is larger than a normal hybrid and therefore needs to be charged from an external power source.

To be fair, EVs have now surpassed their popularity. In the UK, for example, battery and hybrid electric vehicles now account for more than half of all new car sales, while pure electric vehicle sales are up 70% from last year.

Still, there’s a lot of misinformation and rumors about the best eco-friendly options out there.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are considered by many to be a great stepping stone into the world of electric motors. But they can also make many misleading claims about their eco-certification.

So if you’re stuck between models, here’s what you need to know.

Hybrids are seen as half of electric driving and have long enjoyed a reputation as environmentally conscious vehicles. We all know they still produce tailpipe emissions, but they also have an electric motor that can handle some short trips.

Despite this, Greenpeace UK has gone so far as to call plug-in hybrid vehicles the “car industry’s wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Official tests confirmed that the plug-in hybrids have much higher emission levels than the manufacturers claim. Tests of some of Europe’s best-selling hybrid cars, including the BMW X5 and Volvo XC60, have shown that CO2 emissions from hybrids are actually 89 percent higher than initially reported.

This suggests that hybrid vehicles are actually closer to petrol and diesel vehicles in terms of emissions. This is mainly due to the very limited electric range of hybrid vehicles. Even some of the latest models on the market, the electric motor can only travel 62 miles before the petrol or diesel engine kicks in.

There is a global debate about when plug-in hybrids will no longer be sold. In July, the European Parliament approved an EU ban on the sale of new plug-in hybrid vehicles from 2035. The UK also this year brought forward its hybrid ban to 2040.

One of the biggest dislikes of buying a pure electric vehicle is undoubtedly the high price. Generally speaking, pure electric vehicles cost more than petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid vehicles. By comparison: the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid starts at 28,389 euros, while the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 starts at a much higher 45,832 euros.

This is mainly because they are produced in smaller quantities and contain more advanced technology. In addition to a general rise in the cost of living, people are still recovering from post-pandemic economic damage. With that in mind, it’s no wonder some consumers are struggling to find funds to switch to pure electric vehicles.

When people can afford a pure electric vehicle, they tend to worry about range anxiety and a lack of supporting infrastructure. Despite government promises to expand and improve charging points, there is still a long way to go. As far as range anxiety goes, this is definitely a concern.

However, there are currently many pure electric models on the European market that can easily travel more than 140 miles before needing to be charged. As Electric Vehicle technology continues to advance, the range of EVs will only increase.

The biggest advantage of buying a pure electric vehicle is the zero emission standard. Countries around the world have begun banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, with Norway banning sales in just two years. The rest of Europe is following suit, with Germany, Sweden and the UK imposing bans from 2030.

Ginny Buckley, CEO of electric vehicle marketplace, says 100 percent electric vehicles are a more sustainable purchase for drivers in the long run — whether Environmentally and economically.

This is reflected by the rise in new sales of pure electric vehicles in the UK. Buckley adds that, “one in five cars registered in June had a plug, but the number of plug-in hybrids declined sharply, with just 5.5 per cent of the market compared to fully electric cars which had a 16.1 per cent share.”

Plug-in hybrids have something to offer the world right now—but they’re not the end of our transportation transformation. Compared to an all-electric vehicle, driving a hybrid vehicle has some noticeable impacts on the environment.

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