Electric Car vs. Gas Car: Which is Best for You?
Many automakers have added electric vehicles to their model lineups. Their alternative fueling and composition have caused some car buyers to wonder if the benefits of electric cars outweigh the cons of gas cars. This has started a discussion centered around gas vs. electric cars. Both come with advantages and disadvantages for buyers.
Your preference will depend on how each pro and con impact your lifestyle and driving patterns. Which one should you purchase on your next trip to the car dealership? Below we'll cover what makes each type of car unique and discuss the various advantages and disadvantages.
Gas vs. Electric Cars: What’s the Difference?
The primary difference between gas and electric cars is how they’re powered. Gas-powered cars have a combustion engine. In a gas-powered car, the gasoline is converted into heat, which the car turns into mechanical energy that moves it. So, gas-powered cars need fuel and exhaust systems to operate. Alternatively, electric cars don’t use gas, meaning they don’t need to convert fuel or gas into mechanical energy.
They instead use electric motors and batteries to power cars. However, much like gas cars, electric vehicles have to “refuel,” but instead of using gas, they are powered by electrical charging stations. Because electric cars don’t use fuel, they don’t have many of the systems gas-powered cars do. For this reason, electric cars usually require less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles.
Price of Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars
It used to be that many felt that electric cars were a lot more expensive than gas-powered cars. Over the years, the affordability gap has slowly started to close. For example, at the time of this writing, a new electric Chevy Spark would retail for a starting price of $15,000. On the other hand, a new Kia Rio costs approximately $16,450 (depending on location and trim).
Many electric cars are still classified as luxury vehicles, and while there are a few affordable options, car buyers have many more gas-powered car choices to choose from if they’re shopping on a budget.
Maintenance Costs of Gas vs. Electric cars
Since electric cars have fewer fluid-requiring systems, they don’t need as much regular maintenance as gas-powered cars. So, oil changes, brake replacements, and exhaust-related maintenance are unnecessary.
However, electric vehicles still do require maintenance. For example, things like cabin air filters need to be replaced as well as coolant fluids. Additionally, you’ll still need to get tire rotations and replacements.
According to a study by WePredict, a predictive analytics company, after three years of ownership, the average maintenance cost for a gas-powered vehicle is $228. For electric cars, the average expense drops to $77. These figures coincide with a study by the U.S. Department of Energy that found that electric vehicles cost 6.1 cents per mile to maintain while gas-powered cars cost 10.1 cents.
The Pros and Cons of Electric Cars
- Fewer moving parts – Electric cars have fewer moving parts than their gas counterparts. This contributes to the vehicles needing less maintenance and fewer repairs over the car’s lifetime since there are fewer components that can malfunction.
- More energy efficient – Typical electric vehicle batteries can transform about 60% of their energy toward the vehicle’s operation. Alternatively, gas-powered cars only convert their fueling to around 20%. So, you can expect more efficiency from electric car charging than gas.
- Low maintenance – While you do need to maintain an electric vehicle still and may even still need to get repairs, it typically requires less maintenance than a gas-powered vehicle. Much of this is due to electric vehicles having fewer moving parts and a power system that doesn’t need fluids to run (which need to be changed out for the car to work correctly).
- Better for the environment – You can feel good knowing that electric vehicles compared to gas-powered vehicles, are better for the environment. Since their systems are purely electric, they don’t emit any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that can wear away the ozone layer.
- More expensive – Electric cars tend to be more expensive than gas-powered vehicles. While you can find some lower-priced models, gas cars typically have more affordable options across various vehicle types (ex., SUVs, mid-sized sedans, etc.). Also, electric cars can require high upstart costs. If you don’t live in a city with many charging stations, you may have to install one in your home, which adds to the high cost of purchasing an electric car.
- Limited charging stations – States are installing more electric vehicle charging stations. However, depending on where you live, you may still need to travel a significant distance to find one. This situation can be an inconvenience compared to gas-powered cars with many fueling stations.
- Long charging times – Whereas it may take a few minutes to fill up your gas tank, it can take a half-hour or even longer to fully charge your electric vehicle. You’ll have to figure this time lag into your commute times, which can be another inconvenience.
- Battery replacement can be a large expense – Since electric vehicle operation centers around the battery, its health is crucial to running your electric car. Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles are still relatively expensive. So, if you need to replace one after your car’s warranty is up, it could be a significant expense.
The Pros and Cons of Gas Cars
- Filling up the gas tank is fast and easy – Unlike electric cars, where you may have significant charging times, filling up a gas tank is reasonably quick. Gas stations are typically located throughout cities, including even small towns. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about driving long distances to find a place to fill up.
- More affordable – Typically, gas cars are more affordable than electric cars. Additionally, you have more options within the different vehicle types to find a price point that fits you. So, while there may be subcompact and mid-sized electric vehicles priced under $30,000, there likely won’t be as many as gas-powered cars.
- A longer range – Gas-powered cars usually have a higher range than electric vehicles, meaning they can go for long distances on a full tank than an electric vehicle can on a full charge. Some electric vehicles have comparable ranges, but it depends on the car.
- Less fuel efficiency – Gas-powered cars are less efficient than their electric counterparts. Cars convert a smaller percentage of gas into actual energy than electric cars.
- Higher maintenance costs – Gas cars usually have more maintenance requirements than electric cars. Because the car needs fluids to run, you’ll have to regularly service and maintain fueling, oil, and exhaust systems.
- Pollute the environment – Pollution is a significant drawback of gas cars. The emission of greenhouse gases does negatively impact the environment. They may also have an additional not-so-favorable impact on the environment with leftover toxic waste, like oil or other fluids.
Regarding the conversation of gas vs. electric cars, compelling arguments can be made on both sides for why one is better than the other. Ultimately, your preference will depend on how each advantage or disadvantage impacts your lifestyle.
Regardless of whether you prefer a gas-powered vehicle or an electric car, the team at AutoZone has the automotive products you need. Get the parts you need for your electric or gas car at AutoZone.
FAQ/People Also Ask
Electric cars can be pricey and come with long charging times and a limited amount of charging stations compared to gas-powered vehicles.
Not always. The typical electric vehicle battery is set to run for ten years. On the other hand, some people get over 200,000 miles out of their gas-powered car, which can take longer than ten years depending on driving patterns, before needing to replace the car.
Yes, they typically have fewer moving parts than gas cars, meaning they may not require as many repairs or maintenance.
Your preference for an electric or gas-powered car will depend on your driving needs and budget. Check out this article’s pros and cons to see which fits best.
Electric cars can be more expensive and require a lot of time for charging, which can include finding a station. If those things are a problem, you may want to consider a conventional gas-powered car.
The lack of charging stations and expensive pricing can turn some people off from electric cars.
Electric car lifespans typically center around the lifecycle of the battery. Most batteries are slated to last for at least ten years before they need replacement.