With a Tesla on every corner, California is a leader in the hybrid and all-electric vehicle movement, and many gasoline-powered vehicle owners are ready to make the switch to eco-friendly cars.

The right choice between hybrid or electric vehicles (EVs) depends on your individual needs. At Hawthorne Auto Square, we can help you find the right vehicle for anything from navigating Los Angeles traffic to road trips along the Pacific Coast.

What’s the Difference Between Hybrids and Electric Cars?

Hybrid cars (HEVs) feature an electric motor, gas engine, and compact high-voltage battery pack. These vehicles don’t plug in to charge but switch between using the engine, electric motor, or a combination of the two. They operate primarily using the combustion engine, regenerative braking to harvest energy for the battery, and the battery charge to assist with acceleration.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEV) work much the same way as HEVs, but they house a significantly larger battery pack that requires charging from the grid and enables the car to run solely with the electric motor for up to 60 miles. Once the battery charge runs out while driving, the vehicle switches to the same combination operation as an HEV.

Electric cars rely on electricity from the grid, but they also employ regenerative braking to maximize efficiency while driving. They feature batteries about 10 times bigger than a PHEV and with significantly higher overall energy capacity, discharge power, and other figures, typically capable of reaching about 300 miles before requiring a charge. 

Pros and Cons of Hybrids vs. EVs

Hybrids and EVs offer their own sets of pros and cons that can help drivers decide which suits them best.


HEVs offer the reliability of a combustion engine with excellent gas mileage and relatively low emissions. With an electric motor supporting the engine, these vehicles often have more power than their conventional motor counterparts. When you let off the gas, regenerative braking steps in to harvest energy for the electric motor’s battery to optimize the vehicle’s overall efficiency. Unless you opt for a PHEV, you won’t ever have to wait to charge your vehicle.

Although there are many affordable hybrids options, they typically cost more upfront than their all-gas counterparts. Hybrid vehicles also rely on complex systems to manage the seamless engine and electric motor cooperation, which can translate to higher repair or maintenance costs. 

Fuel efficiency and emissions control for HEVs tend to suffer with city-only driving, although PHEVs can operate fully electric on both short or long drives.


With large battery packs, EVs are highly efficient and feature high torque, minimal noise and smooth acceleration that makes them fun and luxurious to drive. With an at-home Level 2 charger, EVs can reach a full charge in 8 to 10 hours, and as fast as 30 minutes with Level 3 chargers at charging stations. While difficult to pinpoint, the running costs are much lower than other vehicles — electricity costs to charge an EV are lower than hybrid fuel costs and often a quarter of conventional vehicle fuel costs.

Fuel cost-savings come with the upfront price of EVs, which can be much higher than hybrids. However charging your vehicle requires planning where and when to charge. While not a financial problem, it can still be a challenge if your home can’t accommodate a charger. Plus, at-home charging stations aren’t cheap. However, homeowners may be eligible for significant tax breaks to offset the cost. 

EVs have overall lower maintenance costs, and although battery repairs present potentially major costs, most manufacturers offer an 8 to 10 year battery warranty.

Which is Right for You? Consider These Factors

The correct choice between hybrid and EVs depends on your personal circumstances. Consider the following factors.

Range needs

EVs offer high efficiency and low usage costs over short and medium distances, sometimes as much as 400 miles. HEVs aren’t as economical, but they offer better range capabilities for road trips and other high mileage needs. PHEVs can provide both benefits — minimal fuel needs for shorter drives, and reliability for long-range trips.


EVs may provide significant long-term savings but typically come with a higher upfront cost compared to hybrids which can limit financing or leasing options. At-home chargers offer better cost-efficiency than charging stations but add to the total upfront cost.

In comparison, HEVs cost slightly more than their conventional counterparts but offer far less fuel saving opportunities than EVs. PHEVs still carry the cost of fuel, but they’re more fuel-effective cars than HEVs for short trips.

Charging availability

Although multi-dwelling buildings are gradually adding charging stations to their lots, some homes can’t accommodate charging stations or don’t offer off-street parking. Relying on public charging stations for an EV or PHEV limits potential savings and convenience, but HEVs don’t don’t pose this complication as they rely on gasoline. While not an issue with California, where there’s a fast-charge station for every five gas stations, this can become a bigger factor if you live in a location with limited charging station infrastructure.


EV and PHEV range and efficiency are excellent in most scenarios, but these vehicle types perform significantly worse in extreme climates compared to standard hybrids. In Los Angeles, that means an EV or PHEV can perform well for most of the year but may suffer during summer heat waves. Likewise, many vehicles suffer in extreme cold weather.

Don’t Forget About Used Hybrids and EVs

Just as used conventional vehicles offer many cost-effective benefits, so do used hybrids cars and EVs. While used EV or hybrid purchase costs may still exceed those of an equivalent conventional vehicle, you can access far superior fuel economy without the potentially high upfront cost of a new vehicle and the rapid depreciation of its first few years.

Used electric cars and hybrids aren’t maintenance free and usually have fewer service costs than other vehicles, but batteries can come with major expenses. Verify the battery health, remaining lifespan, and warranty before purchasing.

Switch to an EV or Hybrid with Hawthorne Auto Square

Enjoy the efficiency, range, tech, and other EV and hybrid vehicle features when you shop from our inventory at Hawthorne Auto Square.

With over 25 years in the auto industry, we’re ready to help you find the best vehicle and financing for your needs. Contact us today to get started. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there tax incentives for used hybrid or EV purchases?

Pre-owned hybrid or all-electric vehicles purchased after January 1, 2023 may be eligible for federal tax credits of up to 30% of the sale price to a maximum of $4,000.

Are there any tax incentives for new hybrid or EV purchases?

New electric or hybrid vehicles purchased in 2023 may qualify for federal tax credits up to $7,500. Other state or local incentives can assist with the costs of vehicle or charging station purchases.