The COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference highlights Australia’s need to cut down on carbon emissions. Could electric and hybrid cars be a step forward?
We know the polar ice is melting quickly and ocean levels are rising but most of us still need to drive around to accomplish the essentials. We still need to drive to work, get groceries, pick up kids from school, take pets to the vet… etc etc. Hybrid cars are gaining in popularity due to this need to drive coupled with an increasing awareness of the impact of fuel consumption on our environment.
Hybrid cars – also known as low emission cars – use fewer fossil fuels than regular cars. And as luck would have it, they’re also quieter, cheaper to run and lower on maintenance. Electric cars are also gaining in popularity. So is one preferable over the other and is there more than meets the eye?
Before we dig too deep, let’s look at what hybrid cars are and why they’re different from petrol-only and electric-only vehicles.
What are hybrid cars?
As the name implies, hybrid cars use a hybrid system made up of an electric motor and a gas engine. Together these two help cut down on fuel consumption because the gas engine helps recharge the electric motor to power the car.
Driving faster burns more fuel, which is when hybrid cars consume the most petrol. But when you’re going at lower speeds the car is efficiently able to switch between using a combination of stored electric energy and petrol or, where possible, seamlessly switch to electric energy only.
Hybrid cars offer the best of both worlds – they intelligently cut down on gas and utilise energy in a highly efficient way. When you’re slowing down from burning gas, these fuel efficient cars store the energy from your momentum in the electric battery for use later.
Hybrid cars vs electric cars
Hybrid cars and electric cars both offer an environmentally friendlier approach to driving from A to B. The primary difference is that a hybrid still needs to use gas in conjunction with electricity whereas electric cars can exclusively run off electricity.
But because electric cars get all their energy from electricity they need to be regularly plugged in and recharged. When you like driving faster or longer this can be tricky. Both driving habits burn energy quicker, which leads to recharging more often.
If you get stuck someplace without a recharging station, you can be in a bit of a fix. Having said this, the number of recharging stations is on the up.
Want to know more about electric cars? We’ve put together the following driving resources:
- Best electric car. How to choose the right one
- Zero emission vehicles. Find out where we’re at
- Types of electric vehicles. Compare the market
- Electric car questions. What to ask
If you want to fulfil your go-green instincts but keep the convenience of a petrol powered car, then hybrid cars offer the best of both worlds. However, both hybrid cars and electric cars still rely on electricity and may not be enough on their own…
Most of Australia’s electricity comes from coal
If you’re hoping to reduce your carbon emissions by switching to electric or hybrid cars, be aware that both still consume electricity. In Australia, about 75% of our electricity is generated by burning coal.
This means that unless you use solar power or another friendly form of producing electricity, your carbon footprint may still be too big for its boots. However we do have some suggestions for generally being more eco-friendly.
Here’s a list:
- Don’t idle. We Aussies apparently idle as much as 20% of our driving time… That’s an indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels that we can easily change. Read ‘is idling bad for your car‘ for the full story.
- Become fuel efficient. Improving fuel efficiency as a nation can have a whopping reduction on our carbon emissions
- Go-green. We’re not just talking green cars but also which driving lifestyle habits you should consider.
Affordable car insurance for a softer landing
Consider getting yourself reliable and affordable car insurance. It won’t help save the planet but it will help cushion a financial fall if your car’s involved with some kind of accident, on or off the road.
Our plans help you cover costs if your vehicle is stolen or damaged and needs to be replaced or repaired. If you’re thinking of switching up your approach to driving and considering hybrid cars, contact us to find out which ones we insure.