Car enthusiasts or not – the debate which many potential car purchasers face today is ‘what is a better option: an Electric Vehicle or the traditional gasoline car?’ Clearly, the answer is more complicated than it seems because companies continue to make and sell gasoline vehicles despite the many benefits and modernity electric cars offer. In fact, in 2019, EV sales accounted for only 2% of all cars sales in the USA.
However, despite the popularity and continuity, fuel-powered vehicles continue to enjoy, Electric Vehicles are increasingly becoming the talk of the town.
Their growth may be slow, but it is certain as electric car sales surpass past records every year and the global electric car stock passed the 10 million milestone in 2020. This shows change is on the way with growing environmental concerns among a more responsible consumer base.
As it turns out, environmental concerns are not the only factor a new car purchaser is looking at when comparing an electric vehicle to a gas car.
There are several other factors to consider, including the sustainability and affordability of a new vehicle.
Therefore, we have carried out a complete comparison of electric and gas cars, taking all those factors into account. This comparison will help you decide which type of vehicle is better for you.
But, before diving into the benefits of one over the other, let us take a look at the basic difference between an electric car and a gasoline car.
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Basic Difference Between the Two Types of Vehicles
An electric car and a gas car operate very differently, so it is unfair to compare the two without understanding the technical and operational differences between the two.
At the very core, an EV and a conventional vehicle differ in their power source. The four basic elements of an electric car comprise the following:
- Batteries – store of charged electricity on which the car runs.
- Onboard charger– this is what converts the household AC power to DC
- Motors – these convert the electric power into propulsion power so the car can move.
- Inverter– this component controls the flow of electricity from the battery to the motors.
So, to put it all together, EVs are powered through electricity and run on batteries just how you charge your phone. This is why after using the energy store, they need to be recharged for another drive.
On the other hand, a conventional vehicle has an engine that is powered by the energy derived from burning fuel.
This means that the car will continue to run as long as it has fuel in its tank that keeps burning to run the engine. Diesel, petrol, and gas are the different types of fuels that a conventional vehicle can run on.
However, the main problem with these fuels is that they are non-renewable sources of energy – not only does their combustion produces carbon emissions, but their reserves are also depleting fast.
While there are several other differences between the two types of vehicles, ranging from their build to features, their power source remains the major distinguishing factor. Now, based on this understanding – let us dive into the detailed comparison of an electric and gas car.
Also, Read Electric Cars vs Hybrid Cars: A Comparison
Which is Better?
There are many factors that you need to take into consideration when trying to choose between an electric and conventional vehicle.
These include affordability – both in the short and long term, the type of features you are looking for, your usage – commute or long-distance trips, and your inclination to save the environment, besides others.
Let us take a look at these in detail.
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Affordability and cost of a gas car vs. an EV
The very first thing we want to point out is that it is not as simple as it seems. Most people try to sum up this factor by saying that an Electric Vehicle has a higher upfront cost, whereas a conventional vehicle is more expensive to maintain in the long run.
While this is mostly true in theory, things can look different in practice. Some people are able to afford an electric car easily, but most people cannot afford to be ‘environmentally friendly’ with their new car purchases because these vehicles continue to be super expensive.
The concept of driving EVs is still foreign in most countries, mainly because they do not have the infrastructure to support them. So, the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is high enough to make anyone think twice (or not think about it at all).
This is also why, even in European states and the US, gas cars continue to be softer on the wallet for the masses.
However, where you live has an impact on the price of an EV. For example, in the US, the government offers tax rebates and subsidies to EV owners. You can claim the Federal Tax Credit and receive up to a $75,000 reduction in your tax liability for the year.
While these incentives keep changing, they continue to bring down the cost of owning an electric car in the long run.
If we look into the operational and maintenance costs, once again – the popular belief is that fuel cars are more expensive.
This can be true in many ways: according to research, an electric car owner saves $632 on average per year in operational expenses. Compared to a gas car,
EVs have fewer fluids that need changing and transmission and far fewer parts that require maintenance or replacement.
In addition to that, the regenerative brake system in an EV uses kinetic energy by returning it to the batteries. All these factors contribute to fewer visits to the workshop, driving EV costs lower.
The second and more obvious area of cost savings is fuel. Driving on electricity is cheaper than driving on gas. And this is the single most influential factor that drives an electric car’s costs down.
However, what some people fail to highlight is that electric cars need a change of battery too, and while this requirement should come up in 10 years of use, a minor fault in the battery can make the whole car useless.
A battery replacement is super expensive and sure to make a dent in your pocket. Similarly, tire replacements and rotations are required more frequently in electrical vehicles due to their instantaneous torque and heavier bodies.
Read How Do Electric Car Batteries Work?
Quickness Vs. Speed – Who Wins?
When buying a car, speed is one of the most basic features one looks at. When it comes to the comparison between electric and fuel cars, you need to understand the difference between how quick a car is versus how fast it is. Usually, the two are confused with being the same.
This is also where both types of vehicles differ. While an electric car is ‘quicker’, a conventional vehicle remains faster.
This means that if an electric car and gasoline car were to start from the same point, an electric car would accelerate faster and have a head start due to its instantaneous torque – the force that drives the vehicle forward. This is mainly due to its simplified motor.
On the other hand, an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) requires more time to rev up with engine-generated power. However, the gasoline car will be faster as it will have ‘greater speed’; it will catch up with the EV and soon leave it behind.
This difference can be mainly accredited to the make-up of the vehicles. As electric vehicles operate on single-speed gear, it has to be fast enough to not compromise on the car’s performance but also slow enough for the car to rev up.
This difference, however, would not make any difference to your everyday usage as all EVs are fast enough to get you from one place to another easily.
It is going to be a matter of concern for only those who are enthusiastic about speed and want their car to be super-fast.
Read How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Car
Range of Fuel Cars and Electric Cars
This is a potential concern for all car buyers – especially those considering getting an EV: how far can it go. Generally speaking, the range is a slight drawback in electric cars as they can only go so far before they need to be charged again.
This is why long road trips or cross-country moves may not be easy with an electric vehicle. If you are buying an affordable EV, chances are you are getting a range of only 120-150 miles per charge, when an average gas-powered car can give you a range of up to 300 miles on a full tank.
However, this comes down to the efficiency of the model you are buying – be it a conventional vehicle or an electric car.
For example, most electric models have a range of 124-304 miles on a single charge now. The luxury model such as those of Tesla can go up to 380 miles per charge.
To bring things into perspective, according to research, an average driving distance ranges between 25-56 miles, which means both types of vehicles have got you sufficiently covered.
You should only be worried about this factor if you often do long trips, in which case – the gas car will be a safer choice.
Read What is the World’s Fastest Electric Car
Ease and Convenience – Who scores better?
This may be subjective depending on how you define ease and convenience for yourself.
For example, it may be more convenient for someone to quickly drive to the nearest gas station and get their car refueled within minutes when they see the needle moving toward E on the fuel meter.
On the other hand, some people may prefer charging their car overnight for the next day – not having to make any unexpected gas runs.
A common drawback associated with EVs is that there are not enough charging stations to facilitate EV driving.
Therefore, before you decide on buying an electric car, you may want to do a quick Google map search to see where the nearest public charging station is located in your area.
However, proponents of EVs claim that this argument makes little sense when conventional vehicles cannot be charged at home and need public charging stations to run.
The real problem arises when you have to drive a longer distance than your everyday commute.
In this case, you need to be more careful of where and how many EV charging stations will be present on your route, as a single charge may not be enough to take you longer distances.
Similarly, the time it takes for an EV to charge is also way longer than what it takes to fill a gasoline car’s tank. This is also why charging it overnight is a good idea for EV owners.
However, it is important to note that charging durations keeps improving with newer models of EVs, making this factor less relevant with time.
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Which One is More Eco-friendly?
The answer to this one is easy – Electric Cars. Compared to its fuel-powered counterpart, an average-sized electric car leads to much lesser air pollution.
This links back to what we mentioned in the beginning about EVs being powered by energy rather than non-renewable fossil fuels such as oil and gas.
Research also shows that electric transport produces far fewer carbon emissions that directly harm the environment and are produced as a result of the combustion of fuel in a conventional vehicle.
However, there are a few concerns and questions raised on how green electric transportation really is. For example, even though EVs are charged by electricity, critics question how this electricity is produced? In 2019, 80% of America’s energy production was accredited to fossil fuels.
And so, this really puts the responsibility on EV owners to ensure that they are charging their vehicles with energy that has been produced from renewable sources.
To combat this criticism, a new technology, known as Smart Charging, has been introduced in EV models, which aligns an electric car’s energy consumption with the availability of renewable energy.
However, there is one more catch that is often overlooked when evaluating how green electric transportation is.
Even though the batteries of EVs allow them to be environmentally friendly, the production of these lithium-ion batteries does generate a lot of harmful emissions waste.
While research and development are being carried out to develop greener manufacturing processes, this remains a concern for those evaluating electric transportation.
Regardless, EVs remain the solution for a more sustainable future as, unlike fuel cars, they are not directly contributing to environmental degeneration, and so the comparison of the two on this factor stays out of the question.
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There is no doubt that with constant developments in technology, EVs continue to be futuristic and a relatively cleaner option of transportation.
However, as cool as they may seem, there are still a number of factors for you to consider before you can decide for yourself which one is better for you.
Many people continue to buy gas cars because often, those are all that they can afford, but if budget and distance are not a major concern for you, then electric cars make for a more convenient option in the long run. The incentives offered by various governments to encourage cleaner transportation is another major benefit to consider.
We hope this detailed comparison between an electric and gas car helps you decide what type of vehicle will work best for you. We wanted to make sure that you understand the pros and cons of each in their entirety to reach a rational decision.
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.