Electric Cars vs Gasoline Cars and Other Vehicles

November 6, 2013

Learn about the performance and fuel economy differences between pure electric cars, plug-in hybrid cars, and gasoline cars.

Recharging An Electric Car

In the debate over electric cars vs gasoline cars, knowing the facts about each car, as well as the differences, is important in the car buying process.

Gas vs. Electric Power

The motors in these two cars are different. In a gas engine, fuel combined with air are ignited by a spark and burned to create combustion. This causes the engine to rotate, which in turn spins the drive wheels. In an electric car, there is no gas engine. Battery packs power the electric motor. The voltage then turns the transmission to turn the wheels.

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Cost Per Mile

The big savings with electric cars is the non-reliance on gasoline. Yes, you have to substitute electricity for gas, but electricity is much cheaper than gas. Depending on the month, electricity on average is four to five times cheaper than gas per gallon equivalents. With a gas car, usually every mile you drive is about 36 cents. The electric cost is under 10 cents per mile. That goes for most cars. One car is the exception. The Tesla Model S sedan only costs $4 to charge for a 300 mile range. Most electric cars are around $10 to fill up the charge.

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Aerodynamic Design

Another major difference in electric and gasoline cars is the design of the body. Electric cars are built for efficiency so they often try to reduce drag in the design to get more mileage. Unless you are going to pay for the most expensive electric cars like the Tesla Roadster or Model S, which truly look like luxury cars, that is not the norm. Most of these cars have weird and unorthodox designs, but they are that way for a reason.

Miles per Gallon vs. Electric Range

This is often the biggest reason why people change to an electric car, the fuel economy. It is no secret that electric cars get much better fuel economy ratings than regular gasoline cars. The top range for an electric car so far is 300 miles, but most of them are under 50 miles. Many electric cars also have a gas engine for a longer trip. There are some cars that are trying to be affordable and break the 50 mile range mark, like the Chevy Volt. The advantage that these hybrid electric cars do provide is that even though they can use gas, their miles per gallon ratios are incredible and normally over 50 miles per gallon. Not many regular gasoline cars are able to achieve such high numbers. Often the best is under 40 miles per gallon.

What Is the Difference between Electric Cars and Plug-In Hybrids?

Plug in hybrids are the newest pieces of technology in the hybrid car class. They are going to be the direct competitor to electric cars. They both run on electric motors, but there are some differences. Electric cars run one hundred percent on electricity. They run on extremely powerful batteries which are very expensive. The only full electric cars on the market right now are either extremely high end, such as the Tesla Roadster or Model S, or they are very inexpensive such as the GEM. The GEM is one of those small cars you may see at schools, police stations, etc, that do not go very far or fast. Either way, they run completely on electricity.

A plug in hybrid however is a mix. It is still a gas powered hybrid, however there is also an electric motor which usually adds up to 100 horsepower on top of the gasoline. The plug in hybrid though is different than the normal hybrid because you can actually plug it in to an outlet to recharge the batteries. This increases the fuel economy by a great deal. The first mass produced plug in hybrid is the Chevy Volt. It can go up to 50 miles on its electric battery. However, you can switch to gas, have fuel efficiency of up to 150 miles per gallon.

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