The innovations in automotive engineering are exploding as manufacturers strive to meet strict emissions regulations. Today, car manufacturers are in a transition phase as they retool and move away from combustion engines into electrical motors and hybrids. For commuters, today, this presents some challenges when considering which vehicle is best for their needs.
Because we often are faced with this question among car shoppers, we thought you might enjoy one of our Haus of Cars blogs on the subject. Let's discuss the pros and cons of choosing each type of vehicle, below.
Combustion Engines (Gas Cars Advantage)
The combustion engine is still holding a strong share of the market because fuel prices, although higher than ever, still make sense, when compared to the upfront costs and the drivers needs. Thanks to oil fracking, the production of North American petroleum and fuel supplies are at an all-time high, and beyond the appeal to some for its’ throaty roar, it can also be repaired by general repair shops just about anywhere. Synthetic lubricants have greatly improved the lifespans of combustion engines as well, making them a reliable investment these days.
When it comes to commuting, the gasoline engine is designed for the highways and offers a lot of efficiency advantages for this type of driving. The peak power range of a gasoline engine is typically around highway speeds 80-90 kph. After about 100-110 kph, the gasoline engine's efficiency begins to decline, although still much less so than electric. When you consider the all this, the gasoline engine is still a great choice if bought right, and has its’s own appeal just beyond efficiency also.
Diesel engines are even more fuel-efficient but burn a fuel that is not as clean as gasoline. Diesel costs per litre, while similar gas, deliver much further range per tank making fuel cost per kilometre much lower than gasoline. Diesel engines are also built much stronger and are known to reach higher mileage than gasoline engines, on average. Repair is typically needed less, however when needed, repairs are in general more costly. This makes them a favourite for work trucks and larger vehicles because they have plenty of low-end torque to haul numerous passengers or large payloads with longer trip distances and low costs per tank.
Electric Engines (Benefits of an Electric Cars)
There is no disputing electric cars are the future. They have a virtual mpg that is often 4 times greater than a traditional automobile. They plug into electric outlets of charging stations to restore the power in between trips. This means that they use absolutely no gasoline whatsoever. The chief drawback of an electric vehicle is that the battery pack begins to lose its ability to hold a charge over time, range per charge, and length of time to charge from empty. When the Lithium-ion battery packs degrade, the owner could spend upwards of $8,000 or more to replace the entire battery pack after just 8 to 10 years. Keep in mind as time goes on this cost will lower like any technology still in its’ early days. The range per charge is also a factor limiting drivers from making the choice and rightfully so in most cases. Range, aside from the most premium priced units, is less than even budget priced used gas cars. Range is also greatly effected by driving style and power output. The decrease in battery life rang is dramatic with more aggressive driving and can drop by more than half depending on how hard these cars are pushed. This is also the case with gas and diesel but to a much lesser degree.
On the plus side, electric vehicles have a 0 to 60 time that is better than most gasoline engines and again, like most emerging technologies, it’s only getting better. This means that they accelerate quickly from a standstill, because there is no lag putting out power to the wheels that an internal combustion engine regardless of how well engineered, cannot be worked around. They also require less maintenance because they do not require oil changes or filter changes like combustion engines. They may be more expensive to repair if they develop problems, however, because sorting out electrical problems can be tedious and time-consuming, but at the end of the day the simplicity of an electric motor means less can go wrong.
The other drawback of driving an electric vehicle is charging it. When you are driving long distances, you may have to use your SmartPhone to locate a charging station nearby. It could take an hour or more to charge up your battery. Most owners never charge their vehicles beyond 90 percent because it takes too long to top off the battery. Although the infrastructure to charge up electric vehicles is improving, it is still much easier to find a gas station nearby than a charging station. The charging time required from empty to full still extremely slow on almost all cases when compared to liquid fuel. Superchargers have lessened this time say in the case of Tesla but they are not available for day to day charging, at least not yet. So for now on a 110 volt, for example, charging times can run from empty to full in over 24hrs and beyond, not minutes like some might need. With the proper planning, and in most driving situations, these factors can be mitigated, but they are still issues that need mentioning, and depending on use, they need to be taken into consideration.
Hybrid Engines (Hybrid Cars Benefits)
There are numerous benefits to owning a hybrid vehicle. First of all, it will increase your fuel economy and lower your reliance on gasoline. Most hybrid vehicles make use of your braking power to regenerate the battery. A hybrid vehicle features a traditional combustion engine and a small electric motor. Some hybrids allow you to plug them in and recharge a larger battery pack while others rely completely on the generators in the braking system.
The electric motor is ideal for driving at low speeds in the city but may shut off at highway speeds to make use of the combustion engine's efficient highway powerband. Many hybrids will use both engines simultaneously. There are a lot of different hybrid designs that change the configuration of where the electric motor is mounted and when it operates. If your commute requires you to go through a lot of gridlock and stop-and-go traffic, a hybrid is better equipped for this type of driving than a traditional combustion engine.
Which Drivetrain Type is Best?
At Haus of Cars in Burnaby, BC, Canada, we believe that everyone's lifestyle is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for your automotive needs. If you do a lot of highway driving, or just a die hard petrolhead, a combustion engine may be your best bet. It is easier to refuel and there is more access to garages for repair. An all-electric vehicle provides petroleum independence and future proofs you from the rising gas prices, but is harder to refuel and comes with a higher upfront price. A Hybrid, on the other hand, could offer the happy medium, from an economic standpoint but could still lack the model choices as well as other limiting factors that appeal to the driver. At the end of the day the choice is ultimately up to you. Feel free to contact us anytime to narrow down the decision making process further. Whether it’s a big bore AMG rocket, a high tech Tesla P100d, or an economic Prius Hybrid, we are happy to help in finding the perfect fit for your material wants and needs.