Trends & Guides

Hybrid/Electric vs Petrol Cars – Which should you get?

24 November 2017 | Joel Vijay

Ah yes, the age-old question of which type of car to get; Petrol or Hybrid/Electric. With the pursuit of renewable and clean energy, progressive individuals would advise you to get a hybrid without a second thought. But look a little closer and the answer to that question is not as clear-cut. If you’re thinking too hard, let us simplify things for you.

Let’s cut the foreplay and tell you that it is better to own a petrol-powered car in Malaysia as a daily drive. Here’s why.

Hybrid cars – Environmentally-friendly? Maybe not

The biggest argument championing hybrid or electric cars concerns its carbon footprint. As most hybrid cars use electric motors to supplement the vehicle’s power, the assumption is that less petrol is used, reducing its carbon footprint significantly. Although this is true, sourcing of materials that make up for the car’s electric motor and battery may have adverse effects on the environment.

Case in point, the materials used to make a hybrid car’s battery involve rare earth materials such as nickel and copper. These are non-renewable materials. And with the mining of these materials comes a plethora of ethical issues (overmining etc.). To add on, a petrol-powered car’s lithium-ion battery only produces 2-5% of sulphur oxide emissions of the hybrid’s nickel-hydride battery. Imagine that!

So NO. A hybrid is not as environmentally-friendly as portrayed.

On the other side of the spectrum, petrol engines these days are being optimised to put out less harmful emissions. Strict regulations set by the government and environmental watchdogs ensure that today’s carmakers create vehicles that make clean cars.

Cost is a bummer

Every year, we anticipate the tabling of the government’s annual Budget. With the past few years, there has been nothing positive for hybrid/electric car owners and potential owners. The removal of the tax incentives has caused hybrid car prices to increase. Thus, many are unwilling to spend on a hybrid model when they can have the fully petrol model for a smaller cost. They would rather use the added budget on the car’s luxury accessories.

Alternatively, look for locally assembled cars (both brand new and second hand) to maximise value for your money.

Pro tip: Choose a reliable Japanese car like a Toyota or a Honda, or a local car such as a Proton or Perodua if you are looking for simplicity.

An electric inconvenience

Electric cars are thought to be the future. Watch any sci-fi film set in the future and you’ll find all the automobiles are electrically powered. Unfortunately, fully electric cars such as the BMW i8, Hyundai Ionic, and Nissan Leaf all require external charging.

Seeing as Malaysia does not have charging ports in abundance, you may find yourself stuck without any place to charge your electric vehicle. This won’t happen with a petrol-powered car. Not all is gloomy for the hybrid and electric car market though. With the emergence of new people-friendly technology, there is much talk of the automobile industry heading that way. Albeit a long way more for Malaysia, it is best for us to stick to petrol-powered cars.

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