Electric car or plug

More than 66'000 new cars delivered in Switzerland had an alternative drive in 2020. That is already a respectable 28 percent. These included 8.2 percent purely electric vehicles, 6.1 percent plug-in hybrids and 13.6 percent hybrids without a charging option. The latter drive only a few kilometers in purely electric mode and are primarily designed to reduce fuel consumption.

Before buying an electrically powered car, two questions are essential:

1. For which routes do I need a car? 2. What about charging options at home and on the road?

For those who do not have a charging possibility at home, there will be no way around a plug-in hybrid car. Because a plug-in car does not need to be charged. It can also drive with the combustion engine only. Anyone with a suitable power connection for a charging station in the garage or near the home can be happy with an electric car.

How do you move in the future?

– I will stay with a car with a combustion engine as long as I can! – I want to switch to a pure electric car! – I want to switch to a plug-in hybrid. – A normal hybrid is enough. – I don't drive a car (anymore).

Electric car or plug-in hybrid: The ranges have long been sufficient

Today's electric cars have a range of around 250 to 500 kilometers, which is sufficient for most journeys. Especially since average Swiss* drive 14.5 kilometers to work. So 29 kilometers per working day. Makes 145 kilometers per work week. This is not a problem for either the plug-in car or the purely electric vehicle.

The advantages of an all-electric car are:

– Better carbon footprint – Long life (batteries often have warranties of 7-8 years and are designed to last 300,000 to 450,000 kilometers) – Fewer wear parts (no pistons, cylinders, exhaust, clutch, transmission, timing and V-belts) – Brakes are rarely stressed as many cars move in "one-pedal driving mode". Accelerating with one pedal. Automatically braked. – Independence from the price of gasoline

The disadvantages of electric cars:

– Depend on charging facilities – shorter range than plug-in cars and susceptible to weather conditions

The advantages of a plug-in hybrid car:

– Independence from charging options – Comparatively high range

The disadvantages of plug-in hybrid cars:

– Poorer climate balance (also due to higher weight and thus higher consumption) – plug-in hybrids are not significantly cheaper than electric cars

Plug-in: Too often in combustion mode

In the case of the plug-in hybrid car, the advantage is the long range. When the battery unit is empty, driving can continue with the combustion engine. On average, the cars have a purely electric range of about 50 kilometers. In total, however, they have an average range of 900 kilometers.

CO2 emissions, on the other hand, are considerable. A study conducted by ifeu – Institute for Energy and Environmental Research – Öko-Institut and the organization Transport& Environment points out that plug-ins are often driven in hybrid mode. That means: The combustion engine is switched on. Since the vehicles have both drives integrated, they are correspondingly heavy and have a higher energy requirement – and a correspondingly high CO2 footprint. If rarely driven in pure electric mode, plug-in vehicles even have higher emissions than normal combustion engines. The charging infrastructure, which is still patchy in some cases, is a contributing factor in this respect.

Electric car or plug

The plug-in hybrid Hyundai Ioniq: greater range than a purely electric car, poorer climate footprint. Image: zvg

The electric car is clearly superior to all other drives in terms of carbon footprint. And this is true for small cars as well as for the mid-range and luxury segment. In the case of small cars, the electric car is already more environmentally friendly than the hybrid from 84,000 kilometers upwards. It swings over a life span of 200 000 kilometers with 28.7 tons of CO2 compared to 41 tons with the hybrid clearly on top. Even in the middle class (31.3 tons of CO2 compared to 43.9) and even more so in the luxury class (41.1 tons of CO2 compared to 73.9). If you want to compare different models with each other, the TCS carbon footprint calculator is a good tool to do so. By the way, the pure electric car wins the comparison with the combustion engine in the climate balance by far. With the middle class cars it is on the average already more pollution free starting from 26,500 kilometers, on 200,000 kilometers calculated 31.3 tons (electric car) opposite 57.2 (internal combustion engine) are.

Loading becomes faster

When it comes to a charging or refueling stop, plug-in hybrid cars naturally have an advantage. If it has to go fast, the next gas station is driven to and the fuel tank is filled up. If you want to charge an electric car, you can do it at a fast charging station with the Renault Zoe electric car (22 kW charging power) in about 18 minutes. Then the battery is charged from 10% to 80%. The charging speed always depends on the charging speed of the vehicle.

When it comes to maintenance, plug-in hybrids fare worse than purely electrically powered vehicles: on the one hand, they are heavier than pure internal combustion engines due to the additional battery, and at the same time they also have the wearing parts (timing belt, spark plugs, clutch, exhaust system, transmission and catalytic converter) of a car with an internal combustion engine. On the other hand, in a pure electric car, there is mainly only the electric motor and the energy storage, which guarantee a very long lifetime.

Electric car or plug-in hybrid: The pure electric car is usually better

Those who rely on a long range and have little time for charging breaks are well served by a plug-in hybrid. For most people, however, electric cars are the better solution. They are economical to drive. Have a better carbon footprint. If you also have a photovoltaic system on the roof of your house, you can charge your e-car at home for free. And if you don't want to make the decision to buy (yet), you can simply rent an electric car.

Are you also interested in a total cost comparison of a Tesla Model 3 with a Skoda Octavia? Click here for the article!

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