Line up of Hyundai ZEVs
A vehicle is the second largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime after their home. In the past, your purchase decision was likely driven by style or safety or price. Now, however, what fuels your car may be the biggest factor in your decision. Photo: Hyundai Canada

Thinking of going electric? From charging to costs and potential range, here’s how to choose between an electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle

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This article is Sponsor Content presented by Hyundai Canada

A vehicle is the second largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime after their home. In the past, your purchase decision was likely driven by style or safety or price. Now, however, what fuels your car may be the biggest factor in your decision.

Whether you’re planning to buy or lease, it helps to understand the technology behind these cars and the pros and cons of choosing hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric.

Hybrid vehicles vs. Plug-in hybrid vehicles vs. Electric vehicles

At first glance under the hood, there is a clear difference between hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and battery electric cars. (For starters, there might be very little under the hood of an electric car because the largest component, the battery, sits under the passenger cabin.)

How does a hybrid car work?

A hybrid vehicle (HEV) is a combustion engine vehicle that has an auxiliary electric motor. The electric motor captures energy from the combustion process and stores the energy in a battery. You don’t plug in a hybrid vehicle; it only fuels up with gas. A hybrid is not considered an electric car or a zero-emissions vehicle. It’s just a more efficient gas car that offers better fuel economy.

How does a plug-in hybrid car work?

A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) is primarily powered by a combustion engine that is fuelled by gas. It has a secondary battery-powered motor that you plug into a wall socket or electric vehicle charging station to charge that offers additional range.

[photo of phev]

Caption: Depending on the range offered, plug-in hybrid vehicles (including Hyundai’s Tucson and Santa Fe plug-in hybrid vehicles) with at least 50 km of electric range are rebate eligible.

Hyundai offers a range of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles: the Tucson and Santa Fe each come in a hybrid or plug-in hybrid electric model, while the Elantra and Sonata are only offered as hybrids.

But hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles, while more efficient than combustion-only cars, still emit greenhouse gases and pollutants.

How does an electric car work?

Electric cars, or battery electric vehicles (BEVs), have an electric powertrain and motor that is powered by a large battery. These vehicles are 100 per cent non-emitting. You can only “fuel” them by plugging into a wall socket or electric vehicle charging station to charge up the battery.

In all-electric models, Hyundai currently offers the Kona EV and the Ioniq 5. But the company is working on a much more extensive line up to come to market in the next 10 years.

And with the all-electric power train comes a welcome perk for EV owners: minimal maintenance. While the average combustion vehicle has roughly 2000 moving parts, an EV has about 20.

This means that mechanical maintenance is far less frequent and fluid changes need to happen just once per year. This can translate into significant savings for EV drivers over the total lifespan of their electric vehicle.

Electric car rebates in Canada

Because hybrids are not considered zero-emissions vehicles, they’re also not eligible for any EV rebates in Canada.

PHEVs can run on electricity alone, so they may be eligible for smaller EV rebates in Canada. Eligibility is dependent on electric range and price. For the full rebate, you’ll need to purchase the car or take out a 4-year lease.

Many EVs are eligible for federal rebates and additional rebates in some provinces, which can translate into significant savings, such as $12,000 in Quebec. Eligibility for rebates is based on purchase price. For the full rebate, you’ll need to purchase the car or take out a 4-year lease.

If your car is eligible for an EV rebate, your dealer will take the amount off the total price paid at the point of purchase.

Will it suit my lifestyle?

Pre-pandemic, the median commuting distance for Canadians who had a usual workplace was just over 17 kilometres round trip. Hyundai’s electric vehicle models (the Kona and the Ioniq 5) give drivers a range of up to 415 km and 488 km of range, respectively. So, the short answer is that most hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles will more than meet the average Canadian’s commuting needs, even counting extra daily driving for errands. However, EV drivers will want the added convenience of being able to plug in and recharge their cars at home (either into a standard wall outlet or charging station).

For road trips and longer distances, hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivers use gas stations. EV drivers will need to use fast-charging public stations, which can be found via the car’s navigation system. The Kona is able to charge up to 80 per cent on a 100kW charger in under an hour. The Ioniq 5 is able to go from a 10 to 80 per cent charge on a 350kW charger in 18 minutes, but be aware that most current publicly available chargers are typically 150kW or less.

Summarizing the differences of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles

In a nutshell, the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are easily broken down.

Hybrid vehicles

PROSCONS
Better gas mileageMore expensive than gas-only vehicles
Can use gas stations while travelingNot rebate eligible
Lower emissions than gas-only counterpartsStill high emitting compared to other green vehicles

Plug-in Hybrid vehicles

PROSCONS
Can travel at least 50km on an electric chargeRequires frequent charging
Can be completely non-emitting on short range drivesStill will be an emitting vehicle on longer drives
Can still use gas stations on longer commutesRequires access to charging
Often rebate eligibleMore expensive than hybrid or gas-only vehicles

Electric

PROSCONS
Significant maintenance savingsFor now, maintenance is largely dealer dependent
Significant fuel savingsNeeds access to an outlet or home charger
Completely non-emittingCharging speeds affected by cold weather
Minimal noise pollutionRoute planning needed for public EV charging stops
App-management of cabin control for vehicle pre-conditioningCharging takes more time than filling up at the pump
Eligible for preferred parking and high occupancy vehicle lanesMore expensive to purchase than all other vehicle types