In the current automotive market, there are three ways a customer can choose if they are looking for clean mobility — Electric, Hybrid, and CNG. CNG is seen more on entry-level cars such as hatchbacks and subcompact sedans, while electric power is seen on a wide variety ranging from sedans to luxury SUVs. Hybrid power, however, has seen popularity with Japanese OEMs, and one of the latest Hybrid vehicles in India is the new Honda City e:HEV.
In the electric car segment, there are a plethora of cars, SUVs, luxury sedans, crossovers, and even performance cars. However, for this comparison, we picked the MG ZS EV, which is priced at Rs 21.99 lakh (ex-showroom) onwards for the soon to launch Excite variant. The Honda City e:HEV is priced at Rs 19.49 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi.
Before we get into more details, let’s understand how the two technologies work — electric and hybrid.
Also Read: MG ZS EV Review
Electric vs Hybrid — The difference
An electric car uses batteries to power a motor which in turn helps the car move. The battery pack in the car is the sole source of energy for the car and the battery pack can be charged with an external charger with AC or DC power. In the case of the MG ZS EV, the SUV is powered by a 50.3 kWh battery that makes 174 bhp and 280 Nm of torque.
MG claims a 461 km range with a fully charged battery and says that the ZS EV can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmph in 8.5 seconds. The British carmaker says that the ZS EV will charge to 80 per cent in 60 minutes using a DC fast charger, while it takes 9 hours to charge fully using an AC charger.
Moving on to hybrid technology. This uses a combination of an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and an electric motor to drive the car. Hybrid tech can be used to make a car more fuel-efficient, like the Honda City e:HEV or add performance like how Formula One uses this tech or like the Ferrari LaFerrai.
The electric motor on a Hybrid car can be charged either by an external charger in which case it’s called a Plug-in Hybrid, or the ICE can charge the electric motor while in use, like the Honda City. Hybrid cars can run on pure ICE mode, EV mode though for a limited distance, or with a combination of both.
Electric cars and Hybrids can also gain battery charge through braking, which uses the energy produced while braking and sends it back to the battery, thus recharging them. However, this is in minimal amounts.
Also Read: Honda City e:HEV Review
Which is cheaper to use — Electric or Hybrid?
Electric cars and Hybrid vehicles are usually more expensive than their ICE counterparts, primarily owing to the amount of additional tech needed. So on a day-to-day basis, let’s see which makes more sense. For the sake of comparison, let’s assume that the vehicle – the MG ZS EV or the Honda City e:HEV – runs an average of 3,000 km a month, which includes daily office commute, driving in the city for shopping and visiting relatives, and the occasional highway trips.
The MG ZS EV has a claimed range of 461 km, however, in real-world scenarios, anything around the 350 km mark is good. To charge fully, the ZS EV takes around 44 units of electricity. Now, the cost per unit of electricity varies, so let’s take the national capital, Delhi. Power per unit costs between Rs 3–8 per unit, which costs Rs 352 for a full charge (taking Rs 8 per unit). This translates to ~Rs 1 per km, costing Rs 3000 per month.
With the Honda City e:HEV, petrol is the primary expense since it does not run on pure electric mode. Honda claims a mileage of 26 kmpl, which means one needs 115 litres of petrol per month. Taking the price of petrol per litre in Delhi (Rs 96.7), this translates to shelling out Rs 11,149 per month, which is over three times the expense when compared to using an MG ZS EV.
However, before jumping to a conclusion that electric is the way to go, we need to look at other costs involved.
Upfront price: The Honda City e:HEV is priced at almost Rs 2.5 lakh cheaper than the MG ZS EV, which itself is enough to cover fuel expenses for roughly 2 years.
Maintenance cost: Both vehicles will incur running costs and repairs, such as brake pads, tyres, and more. With the ZS EV, one can save on oil service costs, fuel and oil filter replacement costs, mechanical repair and replacement bills, and more. This will depend on how well the vehicle is maintained, although a few need periodic replacements regardless of their condition.
Durability: Lithium-Ion batteries tend to degrade over time, and as per MG, the ZS EV’s battery pack comes with an 8 year/1.5 lakh km warranty. Honda’s ICE on the other hand lasts a lifetime when taken care of.
So which of the two technologies is for you?
When looking at running expenses alone, the electric drivetrain makes a lot of sense because of its monthly running costs. However, what if your highway journey is more than 400 km toward smaller cities that lack the infrastructure? In such a case, Hybrid technology is what you should be looking at — it is easier to refuel and go.
At the moment, Hybrid technology makes a lot of sense for India given that the charging infrastructure is still under development and fast chargers still take about an hour to recharge an EV. In our opinion, choose EV tech if the city is your limit, but anything more, Hybrid is the way to go.