The first fully electric car in Australia rolled off the production line in 2008, according to Origin, a leading Australian energy company. Since then, there have been numerous innovations to create models to suit a wide range of consumers. This includes hybrid vehicles that combine the features of electric cars and traditional petrol and diesel models. In order to compare electric and hybrid cars, drivers should first understand each vehicle's features.
Understanding electric cars
An electric car, such as the Tesla Model S, contains an engine powered by the electricity generated by a rechargeable battery. A driver can charge the storage battery of an electric vehicle, or EV, at a public charging station or by using special service equipment at home. Recharging an electric car can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours.
Understanding hybrid cars
A hybrid car contains both a conventional engine and an electric motor. This means a hybrid car can be fuelled like normal cars, or can operate partially or entirely by electricity. The engine of a hybrid car such as the Toyota Prius operates in three states, including electric only, electric and petrol, and petrol only.
The change of engine state occurs automatically according to the driving conditions. For example, the petrol engine generally takes over at higher speeds, and switches off as the vehicle decelerates. This allows hybrid vehicles to be more economical with fuel, especially in city traffic where drivers stop and start frequently.
Electric vs. hybrid cars
Electric and hybrid cars typically have a higher upfront cost when compared to traditional petrol vehicles. However, the price of these vehicles continues to fall as manufacturers develop more technologically advanced batteries.
Before deciding whether to buy an electric or hybrid car, consumers should consider a number of factors, including the distance the vehicle can travel before recharging or refuelling, running costs, and the driving experience. Another factor to consider is the environmental benefit, which is often one of the main reasons that drivers choose electric or hybrid cars over traditional vehicles fuelled solely by petrol or diesel.
The distance that an electric car can travel on a single charge depends on several factors, such as the motorist's driving style, road conditions, and battery size. For example, the fully electric Nissan LEAF can travel between 150 and 175 kilometres before the driver needs to recharge the battery. In comparison, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV can only travel between 100 and 120 kilometres on a single charge.
Fortunately, the design of hybrid vehicles means that there is more power available to travel longer distances. For example, the 2015 Toyota Prius v offers a combined fuel economy of 4.4 litres per 100 kilometres.
Electric cars have engines that feature only a few moving pieces — sometimes only have a single rotor — while the internal combustion engine of a hybrid car features numerous mechanical parts. This generally makes electric cars easier to service and less expensive to maintain when compared to hybrid vehicles.
Drivers can charge an electric car's battery overnight, which allows them to take advantage of cost-effective off-peak energy times. Owners of hybrid cars can follow the same charging routine, but it is still important to budget for petrol or diesel.
Electric cars generate almost no noise or vibration, with only a brief electronic noise when starting the car and the gentle whirring of the engine. While the change in engine state from electric to petrol led to a significant increase in noise and vibration in early models of hybrid cars, manufacturers continue to reduce this impact to give consumers a better driving experience.
Hybrid vehicles use non-renewable fuel sources such as petrol and diesel, while electric cars do not produce tailpipe emissions. Electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as hydro and solar is sometimes a power source for electric cars, depending on the retailer. This typically makes electric cars more environmentally friendly than hybrid vehicles.
How to buy electric and hybrid cars on eBay
If you would like to buy an electric or hybrid car, you can find a wide range of models available on eBay. Locate the search field available on any page and enter keywords such as "hybrid car" or "Nissan LEAF" to browse a list of results. If you need parts for a particular make, model, and year, perform a keyword search for these items to obtain a more targeted list of results. Read the item details carefully and perform all of the necessary vehicle checks, especially if buying a second hand car.