Hybrid vehicles are becoming very popular because of their reduced environmental impact and incredible fuel efficiency. Since fuel prices are going up every year, hybrid cars are becoming an attractive choice for car buyers since they can save you a lot of money in the long run. That said, hybrid vehicles have problems that are preventing people from adopting this technology. In this article, we’ll tackle the biggest problems with hybrid cars and determine if getting a hybrid vehicle is worth it.
Battery Degradation and Battery Cost
The biggest concern over hybrid cars is their batteries. Like the 5-Volt batteries present in conventional vehicles, the lithium-ion batteries in hybrid vehicles also degrade. Over time, the battery will hold less charge and require longer charge times. This will result in noticeable symptoms such as reduced fuel economy since the vehicle will rely on the gas engine more. The vehicle will also take longer to charge and will discharge faster. The battery’s cooling fan might also work harder to cool the batteries and create more noise.
When a hybrid vehicle starts showing these symptoms, you must replace its battery. Luckily, hybrid batteries can last a long time. In some ways, the concerns over their reliability and lifespan are overblown.
Hybrid vehicle batteries should last for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. If the vehicle is well-maintained, some owners can push their batteries to last up to 200,000 miles.
More sophisticated and reliable battery technology has also allowed manufacturers to confidently extend their battery warranties. For example, Toyota extended its hybrid vehicle’s battery warranty to 10 years or 150,000 miles in 2020. In the previous year, it was only 8 years or 80,000 miles. An average American drives around 10,000 miles a year and only keeps their vehicle for 6 to 12 years. Given these numbers, a hybrid vehicle owner might not have problems with the battery throughout the vehicle’s lifespan.
Effects of Cold Weather on the Battery
Despite the increased reliability and lifespan of hybrid batteries, they’re susceptible to cold temperatures. Studies conducted on batteries have found that they have reduced capacity and have a slower charging time in temperatures under 50ºF. Lithium-ion batteries also need to be warmed up before use so that they don’t drain fast. This is why some electric vehicles require their batteries to be warmed up for 5 to 10 minutes before use. Luckily, a hybrid vehicle doesn’t need to warm up their batteries before a drive because it can use its engine. Hybrid vehicles can also use their engine to heat up their batteries faster.
High Initial Cost
While it’s been proven that hybrid vehicles are reliable and can lead to massive savings in fuel, they’re still notably expensive. Hybrid models tend to be around 20% more expensive compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) models cost even more.
Expensive to Own
High repair costs are another problem with hybrid cars. There’s a notion that fixing a hybrid vehicle can cost significantly more than fixing conventional gas-powered vehicles because parts and labor tend to be more expensive.
While parts and labor do tend to be more expensive, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to hybrid vehicles being more expensive to own. There’s a recent study that hybrid vehicles are becoming more reliable than regular vehicles. In the annual Auto Reliability Report from Consumer Reports, hybrid vehicles outperformed every other vehicle category for predicted reliability. Hybrid SUVs also came in third. PHEVs are also not lagging behind.
Aside from being more reliable, hybrid vehicles can also offset their increased cost because of decreased fuel spending. In four years, the amount of money that a hybrid vehicle owner can save can offset the price of the entire vehicle. This is assuming that the price of fuel is $3.35 per gallon and you travel 12,000 miles every year. This can even be shorter if you drive more miles.
Looking for a Plug
If you have a PHEV, you’ll need to connect it to a charging station every time you run out of power. This can be challenging if you live in an area that doesn’t have developed electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. At the same time, needing to regularly plug in your vehicle can also be troublesome.
The previously mentioned problems are just some of the issues that are slowing down hybrid vehicle adoption. However, as hybrid vehicle technology continues to improve, these issues are becoming less concerning for people who want to buy into the technology.
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