The costs to consider when buying a hybrid or electric car

Hybrids can act as a stepping stone towards a greener driving experience in the UAE

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - The new Model 3 Tesla at the newly opened pop up shop in Yas Mall. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
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As many of us look for ways to reduce our environmental footprint, it's no surprise that the demand for electric vehicles is on the rise.

With the car industry making a big shift towards electric and automated cars to meet that demand, major manufacturers are investing in research and development to grow their portfolio of hybrid and EV models.

Consumers thinking of making the switch could consider a hybrid first, as it acts as a stepping stone towards going fully electric. This is because hybrids have a certain amount of fuel flexibility as a driver can switch between an electric and traditional petrol-powered engine depending on the fuel options at the time. An EV on the other hand needs to be charged at a charging station, just as you would charge your smartphone.

Choose the new hybrid Volvo T8 XC90 [over a conventional petrol-powered car] and you can make a 70 per cent saving on fuel costs

Hybrid cars are smaller and have more efficient engines than conventional petrol-powered cars. The extra power the electric motor provides allows very small engines to produce the same power output as non-hybrid engines that are double the size.

The petrol-powered Volvo XC90 3.2L V6, for example, produces 235 brake horsepower and can sustain an average of 7.7 kilometres per litre. The new hybrid Volvo T8 XC90, on the other hand has a 2.0L V4 supercharged engine and an electric motor giving a combined 384bhp and an average of 26km per litre. This means more power and more fuel efficiency with less than two thirds the engine size of a petrol-powered car.

While the initial cost of purchase is higher for fully electric cars because of limited options on the market, hybrid models are less expensive and easier to maintain in the long run, given the combined engine capabilities.

Here are some pointers to consider when shopping for a greener model:

Fuel costs are cheaper

If you purchase a pre-owned Volvo XC90 3.2L V6 and drove 15,000km a year, you would spend Dh6,300 a year on petrol. Choose the new hybrid Volvo T8 XC90 instead and your fuel costs drop to Dh1,830 for the year — that's a 70 per cent saving on fuel costs.

Check for a warranty on a second-hand option

As with any car, there is also a price difference between a new and pre-owned hybrid/electric car. However, keep in mind that warranty and service plans add an inimitable value as well. Even when looking for a second-hand car, it is always worth checking if there is still a year or so on the warranty or service plan, as it could save you some money.

Assess where you live

With many residents living in apartment buildings, it is generally more difficult to access charging stations. However, the UAE's infrastructure is continuously evolving to make it easier and more accessible to own EVs. Dewa has installed more than 240 EV charging stations in Dubai over the past few years, with a view to having 300 in place by the end of this year. We expect this number to continue growing, and property developers are increasingly considering installing EV charging stations in new projects.

Think about distances

Travel distances are also an important factor when considering an electric or hybrid car. If buyers are continuously commuting between the Emirates, they should calculate the average distances travelled in a single day. Study the range of the car being purchased and how many trips can be made in a single charge.

One of the major concerns some buyers have when purchasing a new or second-hand EV versus a hybrid is the resale value. While hybrid cars share the same potential technology problems as EVs, they do have a strong resale value and haven’t proven to be troublesome when selling a few years later.

Be realistic

While the international market is flooded with hybrid and EV models, not all of them have made it to the UAE plus manufacturers introducing these ranges have not necessarily made them budget friendly. The all-electric Tesla Model S for example, even on the used market, can cost an average of Dh200,000 — Dh300,000.

However, as the infrastructure in the UAE continues to develop for the implementation of electric vehicles, we are bound to see the electric car market gradually grow. And with the market moving towards second-hand cars, we anticipate that within the next five years, we will see an increase in the number of used electric vehicles available to buy.

Matthew Davidson is the head of motors services at dubizzle