Great Rivalries: Hybrid vs Electric Vehicles

There's little question that the future of the automobile includes some measure of electrification. The big debate is how much we'll rely on an electric system's volts and amps instead of an internal-combustion engine's pistons and valves.

Modern hybrid cars still rely on the combustion of fossil fuels for their motivation - a supplementary electrical system takes some of the energy that would be wasted or otherwise lost under braking, stores it in a battery, and then uses it to help power the vehicle at some later point. Carting around two powertrains (no matter how well integrated they are) will never be the most efficient solution, so some say that the hybrid is just a stepping-stone toward an electric car that doesn't depend on combustion.

Except there are problems. First of all, a battery that can store enough electricity to equal the energy in a tank of liquid fuel is big, heavy, and prohibitively expensive. And then there's the issue of where the electricity comes from in the first place. The energy that comes out of your household outlet could have been generated by burning coal, another nonrenewable energy source. Add to that the losses inherent in transmitting that electricity from the power station to your house, and you might have been better off driving a regular car in the first place.

You could generate your own electricity, perhaps with a windmill or solar cells on your roof. Or maybe you could make the electricity in a hydrogen fuel cell located in the car itself. Fuel-cell vehicles remove the redundancy of hybrids and diminish the range problems associated with battery-powered EVs. Unfortunately, your neighborhood gas station doesn't carry hydrogen. And even if it did, compressing the gas to several-thousand psi for storage in your car requires power - enough to make the whole process less efficient than just using a battery in the first place.

Is there no simple solution? Unfortunately not. And there's no simple answer, either, to the question of whether hybrids are here to stay or if they'll be replaced by some sort of electric vehicle. Only time will tell.

In conclusion, in regards to our environment, our economy, and our safety, I believe that electric cars are ENTIRELY superior to both hybrid vehicles and fuel-cell hydrogen vehicles. For more comparisons on the 3, I recommend the book "Two Cents Per Mile" by Nevres Cefo which takes an indepth look at them all. You can read reviews and excerpts on amazon at , or visit the website of the book at
The advantage of Electric Car is that you have the option to choose where your electricity comes from, an option that hybrids with weak batteries do not lend. And, the "losses inherent in transmitting electricity from the power station to your house" don't even compare to the power lost between burning oil and your wheels (70%?).And to say that a battery is big and heavy is a misnomer, too. Sure, batteries have weight, but electric cars have considerably less parts than combustion engines so the weight of the battery is made up in the lack of a need for a combustion engine, transmission with many gears, fuel tank, exhaust, etc etc etc.As for the range problems, there are several solutions- when going on longer trips you could rent a trailer with extra batteries, or we could develop a battery-swap-station infrastructure, like the one currently being built in Israel.

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