Friday, March 1, 2024

Thinking About Buying a New Car? Maybe a Hybrid or Electric? We Got All the Info (& Asked All the Potentially Stupid Questions!) You Need to Know

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Buying a new car can be intimidating – but, if you want to step onto the dealership with confidence, we’ve got all the info you need to know about All-Electric and Hybrid Vehicles and the electric vs hybrid debate!

In partnership with our pals at Toyota New Zealand

I don’t know what it is exactly about having conversations about cars, but it’s a surefire way to make me either feel like a fraud or a total idiot.

Typically I hate buying or selling a car because I find the whole thing intimidating – what if they ask me a question and I have no idea what the answer is? Wait, are they trying to set a trap to show that I don’t know what I’m talking about? Are they using so much jargon to make me feel silly?

It doesn’t take much to make me feel out of my depth. Even when I spoke to the super lovely team at Toyota New Zealand alongside Capsule co-founder Kelly – who started asking very intense, technical questions about their hybrid models – I found myself nodding along instead of saying what I was actually thinking: “Um, just what in the heck are you talking about? You’ve lost me!”

So when they suggested getting back to basics, and maybe just creating a nice little story in the safe space that is Capsule, breaking down exactly what the heck a hybrid car is vs an electric and what you need to know about each of them, I was thrilled. And I was even more thrilled when I sent them a bunch of (potentially very silly) questions about hybrids and electric vehicles, and no one scoffed, rolled their eyes or made me feel stupid. 

“Great question!” they even said. Toyota dealerships feel like much safer spaces than I’ve been to in the past, and you don’t need to be a mechanic (or a man?) to be taken seriously. They also really know their stuff about electric vehicles – Toyota introduced the world to hybrid vehicles way back in 1997 with the Prius. And now Toyota Hybrid Electric Vehicles now travel more electric kilometers than any other type of vehicle the world over. 

If you are in the market for a new car and you want to go in feeling a bit more clued up – or, maybe a bit like me, you feel that it might be helpful to understand what a hybrid vehicle is, vs an electric car and how they might better suit your lifestyle and the environment, we’ve got you covered.

All-Electric Vehicles vs Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Ok, so let’s break it down: your regular petrol-loving car has a combustion engine inside of it, while a battery electric vehicles (BEV) instead runs on a battery powered motor. That battery just needs to be recharged from time to time to keep you moving (either at home, or at charging stations).

A Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is pretty much what it sounds – it’s the best of both worlds. They are powered by a conventional engine, an electric motor as well as a hybrid battery and can switch between the petrol engine and electric motor or combine both power sources depending on the driving situation.

Ok, Tell Me More About Hybrids!

There are two different types of hybrids available – first, you have the standard HEV. This type seamlessly switches between modes (petrol vs electric vs hybrid battery) and recharge their own batteries as they go. This process happens through regenerative brake charging technology, which essentially just means that the car retains energy when you brake and uses that to help recharge the battery. If you have a HEV you just visit the petrol station to fill up your car (although you’ll definitely be spending a lot less at the pump!) and there’s no need to hunt down a charging station, ever.

Your second option is a PHEV, which is a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. These ones are closer to a Battery ElectricVehicle (BEV), as they don’t recharge on their own – you’ll need to visit a charging station or do it at home. But yes, unlike the EVs, they also have an internal combustion engine, which gives you a greater range.  

Which Type Might Suit You Best

I road tested both an electric and a hybrid car, and honestly I fell in love with both of them. They have some big differences, but a lot of similarities too. They’re both so quiet! So easy to drive! Plus, they give you such a smug feeling knowing that they’re kinder on the environment.

Obviously this feeling is much more intensified in the BEV (click the link to check out Toyota’s bZ4X Pure Electric FWD) I found myself driving a lot more during the week I had it – instead of saving up all my errands to do at once, I’d just pop out whenever they came up (or the urge to pop down to the shops for a coffee or snack came up – which is a slightly dangerous side effect, but didn’t come close to wiping out the savings we made in not buying petrol at all).

The guilt-free driving (both from an environment and financial point of view) really paid dividends when my young toddler fell asleep in the car near naptime – normally I’d try to head home, transfer him to the cot (with a zero per cent success rate) and the afternoon would be a nightmare. But, in the EV I could guilt-free just drive around for an hour listening to a podcast.

I enjoyed it so much I may have even engineered a few car naps that week – it was that fun to drive around. Because what I wasn’t expecting was how fast an EV can take off. When you put your foot down, she can move. And heck it is fun. I may have driven on and off the motorway a few times, just to go back onto the on-ramp and accelerate up to speed.

An EV does require some planning though. There are a fair few charging stations in Auckland, but you have to factor in where and when you’re going to charge that battery (particularly if you’re going for a few joy rides!). If you were taking a long roadtrip, it’d have to be a factor. This may put a few people off – and fair enough – but, I found that for running around locally, or driving into town regularly (a 40 minute drive), it didn’t require a lot of planning and certainly wasn’t stressful.

On the other hand though, a Hybrid like this little Yaris number would suit any lifestyle, whether you were taking long road-trips, long commutes to work, short trips around the neighbourhood, or any kind of combination, really.

I drove a HEV, which was absolutely seamless, quiet and easy to drive, plus, not having to ever think about charging it up, made it so easy. I can imagine a PHEV might need a bit more consideration to keep it charged up for your shorter commute journeys just like an EV. But again, unlike the Battery Electric Vehicle, you’ve got that combustion engine to fall back on anyway, so longer trips are stress free.

A Hybrid really is the best of both worlds and suitable for most lifestyles. You’re obviously not going to see quite the same financial savings and environmental wins as you do with a Battery ElectricVehicle, getting to say goodbye to petrol completely. But, even with all my little errands and running around in the HEV I made a serious saving on petrol, even in one week.

At the end of the day, Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids and All Electric Vehicles are all a great choice for your next vehicle. They’re fun to drive, but more importantly, they have huge advantages in terms of their impact on the climate, plus, on your bank balance, meaning you’re no longer a slave to the petrol pump and its fluctuating prices.

If you’re looking for more information on Toyota’s options, check out this link on Hybrid Cars and SUVs: Toyota Hybrid Cars & SUV | Hybrid Electric Vehicles | Toyota NZ – Toyota NZ, Plug-in Hybrid Cars and SUV: Toyota Plug-in Hybrid Cars & SUV | Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles | Toyota NZ – Toyota NZ, All-Electric Cars, Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrids: Toyota Electric Cars, Hybrid & Plug-in Hybrid | Toyota NZ – Toyota NZ, Plus a look at what’s coming up in this space: Toyota I bZ4X Charged Up & Coming Soon | All-Electric SUV | Toyota NZ – Toyota NZ

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