Electric vehicles are becoming more popular by the day. And as technology continues to improve — and the need for cleaner energy continues to grow — these cars are becoming not just more sought after, but more accessible. So what do we need to know about these vehicles of the future? First and foremost, is learning about the different types of electric vehicles.
These cars are not one-size-fits-all. From the manner in which they are powered to how far they can travel and how much they cost, there are some important aspects to sort through.
As the name implies, hybrid vehicles use both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. The motor in conventional hybrids cannot be plugged into an electrical source to be recharged. Instead, the motor’s battery gets its power from the gasoline engine as well as by capturing energy when the vehicle brakes. This process, which converts kinetic energy into electricity, is known as regenerative braking. The motor works with the engine to reduce gas consumption or even allows the engine to turn off.
Conventional hybrids offer a significant step up in fuel efficiency compared to traditional cars. The 2023 gas-powered Toyota Corolla gets an estimated combined MPG of 35, while the hybrid version has a combined MPG of 50.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are also powered by both a gas engine and electric motor. What differentiates them from conventional hybrids is the way in which the battery is charged. In addition to using regenerative braking, PHEV batteries are charged by plugging in an electrical outlet.
The main advantage of a PHEV over a conventional hybrid is its ability to run on electricity alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most PHEV can travel between 20 and 40 miles using only the electric battery. Because of this, plug-ins are substantially more fuel efficient.
AAA’s Recommendation: Whether you own an electric vehicle or a gas-powered car is up to you – and you should consider lots of factors in making that choice. No matter what type of vehicle you’re choosing, we recommend visiting a dealership, test driving one, and asking as many questions as possible to make an informed decision.