Gas vs. Electric Car Facts

gas nozzle and electric car plug

If you’re considering buying a car, you may wonder what the difference is between a gas, hybrid, and electric vehicle. It’s important to know that there is more than one type of hybrid or electric vehicle when looking to buy a car.

Perhaps you want to know which type of car is more cost-effective in the long run or want to help reduce emissions. Once you have a good grasp on the basics of hybrid and electric vehicles, you’ll have a better understanding of whether a gas, diesel, or electric vehicle is best for you. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are three main types of hybrid and electric vehicles:

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are fueled with liquid fuels, like gasoline, but use small batteries to recapture energy otherwise lost during braking, resulting in boosted fuel economy.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can rely wholly or partly on electric power, and use liquid fuels, like gasoline.

All-Electric Vehicles

All-electric vehicles (EVs) have onboard batteries that store energy to power one or more electric motors. These batteries are charged using electricity from the grid.

When choosing between a gas, diesel, or electric vehicle, keep these costs in mind:

  1. Maintenance
    Hybrid EVs, PHEVs, gas and diesel vehicles require more regular maintenance than all-electric vehicles over their lifetime, including oil and filter changes and costly replacement parts like drive belts and even batteries. You will still need to maintain your tires, coolants, brake fluids, air filters and other parts and accessories whether your vehicle is gas or all-electric. However, EVs require minimal scheduled maintenance overall due to having fewer parts than the traditional combustion engine vehicle.

  2. Driving Range & Fuel Economy
    With a variety of newer gas, diesel, hybrid and EVs, your driving range will depend on how you drive, the size and weight of the vehicle, road conditions, and the climate in which you live. According to, newer gas vehicles average anywhere from 19 to 35 miles per gallon, diesel vehicles average 19 to 26 MPG, and hybrid-electric vehicles average 21 to 59 MPG. The U.S. Environment Protection Agency calculates that 33.7 kilowatt-hours of electricity is the equivalent to one gallon of gas. Newer all-electric vehicles average anywhere from 63 to 132 MPGe, giving them the longest driving range.

  3. Fuel vs. Electric Costs
    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas and diesel prices fluctuate more often than electricity prices, making the cost of driving a gas or diesel vehicle more unpredictable. The cost per mile for an EV also depends on whether you charge an EV at home or use a public charger. The cost of driving a PHEV is dependent on whether you fill up or plug-in more often. The U.S. Department of Energy offers an online electric drive cost calculator to help you compare the cost of fueling up or plugging in.

  4. Vehicle Lifespan
    According to Auto and Fleet Mechanic, today’s gasoline engines last 8 to 10 years, or around 200,000 miles. If kept well-maintained, a diesel engine can be driven for about 30 years, or up to 1.5 million miles. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, today’s EV batteries will last 12 to 15 years in moderate climates and 8 to 12 years in extreme climates. According to Lifewire, electric motors are proven to last up to 20 years under normal conditions.

  5. Additional Costs & Savings
    Due to ongoing green initiatives, there are many local, state, and federal tax incentives, rebates, and manufacturer credits for purchasing EVs and hybrid vehicles. These savings are dependent upon the type of vehicle you purchase, where you live and the year, make and model of the vehicle. These savings should be considered when considering the overall cost of purchasing a gas or electric vehicle. Car buyers should also ask dealers about special licenses, taxes, registration fees and other official costs and fees that may affect the total cost when purchasing the vehicle.

While there is a lot to learn about the differences between owning and maintaining gas and electric vehicles, Credit Acceptance can help you get connected with a local dealership that can approve you to purchase – and drive – a new or used car today.

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