Hybrid and EVs 101 – A Beginner’s Guide

Nearly every auto manufacturer has at least one hybrid or electric vehicle in their lineup. General Motors has plans to fully transform their lineup to Hybrid and EVs in the next decade or so. Your choice of Hybrid and EVs is going to become more complicated as time goes on so here are a few things you should know before buying that alternative fueled vehicle.

2019 Chevrolet Volt

Hybrid or EV?

There are 2 basic types of hybrid vehicles and 1 full electric. A conventional hybrid works in tandem with the gasoline engine to provide a boost in acceleration or to aid in improving fuel efficiency. A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) can operate on its batteries alone for a short distance before the gasoline engine takes over once the battery charge is depleted. As the name suggests, it can be plugged in to recharge the batteries. So depending on the length of your commute, the gasoline engine may not need to provide power. It can be driven completely on batteries alone.

A full electric vehicle relies solely on its batteries for power thus requiring to be plugged in on a regular basis. Usually full electric vehicles have a range of 350 to 420 km before the batteries run out of charge.

How Will You Use It?

The biggest limitations to full electric vehicles are their range and recharge times. As mentioned, current electric vehicles, like the Chevrolet Bolt, have a range of around 370 km. To fully recharge, it could take anywhere from just over 2 hours from a level 3 DC fast charging station to approximately 10 hours from a level 2 charging station. Or if neither types of charging stations are available in your area, a standard household 120V outlet could take up to 50+ hours to fully charge an electric vehicle. So if you drive less than 80 km per day and are usually sticking to the city, it may be worth considering a full EV.

However, if you drive more than 100 km per day and take long trips between cities frequently, a hybrid vehicle may be the better bet for your needs. Because they still utilize a gasoline engine and gas stations are very common, you have virtually an unlimited range. But you still save a bit of gas when compared to a traditional gasoline powered vehicle because the batteries aid the engine.

chevrolet bolt charging


A traditional hybrid vehicle will never need charging but you will always be using the gasoline engine. A PHEV and full EV will require charging, especially the latter.

As mentioned, both types of vehicles can be charged from a 120V outlet but it will take a very long time. A level 2 charger can be installed in your garage and it will cost from $500 to $1,000+. You can think of the PHEV or EV like a cell phone, just plug it in overnight and have it fully charged by the morning.

Depending on where you live, there can also be access to public level 2 or level 3 charging stations. These are usually free of charge and can be used to top up or fully charge your vehicle while you’re at work or shopping. But be aware that these can still take hours to charge your vehicle. It’s not a 5 minute recharge like how it is to fill up a normal gasoline vehicle. So it’s best to plan ahead.


Know Your Costs

At the time of writing this article, hybrid vehicles and EVs are more expensive than traditional gasoline only vehicles. However, there are government rebates (which vary by province) to help reduce the burden of hybrid and EV purchases.

This initial cost is offset a bit by the reduced requirement of gasoline. A hybrid vehicle will still require gas but not as much as a traditional vehicle. A full EV doesn’t use any gas but it will increase your home electricity bill if you recharge from your house. That cost can vary depending on what time of day you charge as well as your location.

Maintenance costs will remain broadly the same if you opt for a hybrid vehicle. The gasoline engine will still require regular oil changes, coolant flushes, new spark plugs, etc. However, an EV doesn’t have an internal combustion engine so it will not require as much scheduled maintenance.


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Eagle Ridge GM – Coquitlam, British Columbia

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