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Thinking About Buying a Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or EV Automobile?

The pandemic has slowed auto production, but not carmakers’ plans for new electrified vehicles. In fact, a few dozen all-new, pure electric models are set to debut by the end of 2024.

The rollout of new EVs, plug-in hybrids, and traditional hybrids is good news if you’re looking for an alternative-fuel vehicle. These models provide energy-efficient transportation while lowering or eliminating tailpipe emissions, diminishing noise, and reducing operating costs.

But living with an electrified vehicle—especially a pure EV—is different from owning a typical gasoline model. So it’s important to understand how they work, and to match their strengths with your driving needs and preferences.

For instance, should you stick with a traditional gasoline-electric hybrid that never needs to be plugged in? They’re fuel-efficient, and most are reliable, but they aren’t emissions-free.

Or is a plug-in hybrid more for you? They split the difference between a hybrid and an EV, with a rechargeable battery that provides 20 to 40 miles of electric range before transitioning to regular hybrid operation.

Or are you ready to take the leap to an EV? That eliminates the gas engine, but you need a convenient way to recharge.

Below, we explain how the technologies work, plus offer real-world insights into the pros and cons for each type. We also highlight a few models recommended by Consumer Reorts from each category that are smart choices.

Bear in mind that several of the models are relatively new—and advise consumers to wait a year or longer for automakers to work out the bugs. Holding off will also mean more models and EV charging stations, and possibly lower sticker prices.

On the other hand, current tax credits on EVs, up to $7,500, may phase out while you wait.

Hybrids

Hybrids team an electric motor with a gasoline engine to provide efficient transportation. Owners don’t need to worry about plugging their hybrid vehicle in, and these models drive similarly to regular cars. There are many affordable hybrids, with prices starting under $24,000. Plus, hybrid owners really like their vehicles: In CR’s Annual Auto Surveys, they tend to report higher overall satisfaction than do owners of nonhybrid versions.

Hybrid Technology
Hybrids typically combine a relatively small gasoline engine, at least one electric motor, and a small battery pack. The electric motor supplements the gas engine, and allows the engine to shut off at low speeds and when coasting. Regenerative braking lets hybrids recapture energy that would otherwise be lost and use it to recharge the battery pack. This technology has been on the market for over 20 years.

Pros
• They have excellent gas mileage.
• They produce lower emissions compared with gas-only vehicles.
• They never need to be plugged in.
• You can fill up at a regular gas station.
• They are often more powerful than their gasoline-only equivalents.

Cons
• They cost about $1,000 to $3,000 more than comparable gas-only models.
• Some have had longer stopping distances than their gas-only counterparts in CR’s testing.
• Many use a form of a continuously variable transmission that can cause high engine revving compared with the vehicle’s acceleration.
• Some of CR’s testers find that sensation, called “rubberbanding,” unpleasant.

Plug-In Hybrids

Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a bridge between traditional hybrids and full electric vehicles, allowing for local driving on electric power alone with the convenience and range of a gas engine for longer road trips.

Plug-In Hybrid Technology
PHEVs have a larger battery than regular hybrids have, so they can be driven farther and more often on electric power. As with regular hybrids, regenerative braking can extend the battery’s range, and the gasoline-powered engine and electric motor switch back and forth as needed. Owners can get by with Level 1 charging (120 volts) because the battery packs are small compared with those in pure EVs.

Pros
• Most can travel between 20 and 40 miles on electric power.
• They get good fuel economy even after the electric range is depleted.
• They provide the benefits of a pure EV for short drives or commutes while still having a gas engine for longer trips without charging worries or range limitations.
• Some are eligible for a federal tax incentive of up to $7,500.

Cons
• They’re more expensive than regular hybrids or gasoline cars.
• To reap full efficiency benefits, owners must recharge frequently.
• Some are less fuel-efficient than regular hybrids once the electric portion is depleted.
• Plug-in components often take up cargo space.
• Charging can be challenging if you live in a multi-unit dwelling or don’t have access to off-street parking.

Fully Electric

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs­—or EVs, as they are commonly called) are very efficient, and most new models have a driving range of well over 200 miles. But driving them long distances requires extra planning regarding where and when you’ll charge.

EV Technology
Full EVs rely on large battery packs to power their electric motors. They forgo complicated parts such as an internal combustion engine or a conventional transmission. Under normal circumstances, it takes between 8 and 10 hours to recharge an EV using a Level 2 (240-volt) connector when the battery is near-empty.

Pros
• It’s usually less expensive to charge than to buy gas.
• It’s convenient to recharge at home.
• They often cost less to maintain because they have fewer and simpler components.
• There are no tailpipe emissions.
• They are very quiet.
• Most provide a fun acceleration experience, thanks to the instant power on tap from the electric motor, or motors.

Cons
• They cost more to buy.
• Planning when and where to charge is a part of any long-distance travel.
• Charging can be challenging if you live in a multi-unit dwelling or don’t have access to off-street parking.
• Charging can take hours; even DC fast charging in public places can take 30 to 60 minutes.
• Very cold or hot temperatures and cabin climate conditioning reduce driving range.

$7,500: The Federal Tax Incentive You Might Qualify for When You Buy an EV

Electric vehicles tend to cost more than other models, but many are eligible for tax incentives. Even some plug-in hybrids qualify. Plus, there may be local and state tax credits, rebates, or vouchers, depending on where you live. So do your homework to see what credits might be available.

But be aware that under current rules, once an automaker sells 200,000 electric vehicles, the value of the tax credit decreases and eventually fades away—a provision that has affected two automakers, General Motors and Tesla. Ford and Toyota may reach that threshold in 2022, as well.

Consumer Reports
February 22, 2022

An Americanized Version of Canada's Health Care System is the Only Sensible Way

Costly complexity was clearly baked into Obamacare. And no health insurance system is without problems. But Canadian-style single-payer - full Medicare for all - is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.

In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Replace the current chaotic American system with a much more efficient Americanized version of Medicare-for-all: everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital. It will produce far less anxiety, dread, and fear.

Here are 25 reasons the Canadian health care system is better than the chaotic U.S. system:

Number 25:

In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth – everybody in, nobody out.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, 28 million Americans (9 percent) are still uninsured.

Number 24:

In Canada, the health system is designed to put people first, profits (or a sustainable budget), second.

In the United States, Obamacare has done little to curb insurance industry profits and in fact has increased the concentrated insurance industry’s massive profits.

Number 23:

In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income – rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 22:

In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you for as long as you can afford your insurance.

Number 21:

In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them. There are no lists of “in-network” vendors and no extra hidden charges for going “out of network.”

In the United States, even under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking – thus restricting freedom of choice – and if you want to go out of network, you pay dearly for it.

Number 20:

In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in insurance premiums directly and indirectly per employer.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it’s pay or die – if you can’t pay, you die. That’s why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

Number 19:

In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don’t even see a bill.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills are terribly complex, making it very difficult to discover the many costly overcharges or massive billing fraud.

Number 18:

In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 17.9 percent of its GDP and still doesn’t cover tens of millions of people.

Number 17:                                       

In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, health-care-driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 16:

In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, often staggering complexity leads to ratcheting up huge administrative costs and overhead.

Number 15:

In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: “What’s wrong?”

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Number 14:

In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases, so they remain unaffordable and skyrocketing.

Number 13:

In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2017, the CEO of Aetna alone made a whopping $59 million.

Number 12:

In Canada, there are no required co-pays or deductibles in inscrutable contracts.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans.

Number 11:

In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, even Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 10:

In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured will continue to delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 9:

In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, tens of thousands of Americans will continue to die every year due to lack of health insurance and much higher prices for drugs, medical devices, and health care itself.

Number 8:

In Canada, health care on average costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a 60% majority support Medicare-for-all.

Number 7:

In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are modestly progressive – the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, even under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 6:

In Canada, people use GoFundMe to start new businesses.

In the United States, fully one in three GoFundMe fundraisers are now to raise money to pay medical bills. Recently, one American was rejected for a heart transplant because she couldn’t afford the follow-up care. Her insurance company suggested she raise the money through GoFundMe.

Number 5: 

In Canada, people avoid prison at all costs.

In the United States, some Americans commit minor crimes so that they can get to prison and get free health care.

Number 4: 

In Canada, people look forward to the benefits of early retirement.

In the United States, people delay retirement to 70-75 to avoid being uninsured.

Number 3:

In Canada, Nobel Prize winners hold on to their medal and pass it down to their children and grandchildren.

In the United States, Nobel Prize winners sell their medals to pay for their medical bills.

Leon Lederman won a Nobel Prize in 1988 for his pioneering physics research. But in 2015, the physicist, who passed away in November 2018, sold his Nobel Prize medal for $765,000 to pay his mounting medical bills. According to a report in Vox, the University of Chicago professor began to suffer from memory loss in 2011, and died in an Idaho nursing home.

Number 2: 

In Canada, the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare’s absurd 2,500 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Number 1: 

In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, a growing majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses now prefer the Canadian type system – Medicare-for-all, free choice of doctor and hospital , everybody in, nobody out and far less expensive.

It’s now only a matter of time!

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