Hybrid Cars Ireland 2019 - What are they and should you buy one?

A blue car plugged into a multi-socket with the word "Hybrid" behind it

With concerns rising globally over climate control, and fossil fuel prices spiralling upwards, citizens are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Transport, both public and private, has come under scrutiny and people are looking to save money as well as the environment. But hybrid cars are too expensive….aren’t they?

Discover everything hybrid-car related as we delve into the best and cheapest hybrid cars in Ireland, and find out can they really save you money and what are the pros and cons.


What is a hybrid car

First off, what is a hybrid car and how is it different from an electric car? A hybrid car is defined as a car that runs off more than one method of propulsion. This usually means combining a fossil-fuel run engine (petrol or diesel), with an electrically fuelled system.

In contrast, electric cars depend solely on electrical propulsion and have no alternative fuel source should their battery run down. There is no denying that electric cars are cleaner and reap greater cost savings from fuel, but their range is more limited. If you regularly have to drive longer distances, than a hybrid car may be a better choice for you.


Benefits of hybrid cars

A blue box outline

While becoming more affordable all the time, hybrid cars are still nowhere near as cheap as the more economical petrol or diesel-run cars. So if you’re willing to shell out that bit more in order to do your bit for the environment, what exactly are the benefits of a hybrid car?

Better for city-driving

Hybrids are even more efficient and well-suited to driving in the city, due to the stop-and-go nature of driving there.

Better resale value

Take a look at any second-hand car listings and you’ll see that you can still make back a decent amount of the initial investment when it comes to time to sell your car.

Drive more efficiently

Due to slightly different dashboard displays, most hybrids show you not only your present mileage but also your average km per gallon. Some, like the Toyota Prius, even show you how much energy you recover through regenerative braking. 

So although many of us know that cars get better mileage when we accelerate and brake gently, hybrid cars actually show you that this is true. This can lead to you driving more efficiently.

Environmentally friendly

The vast majority of people know that hybrid cars are better for the environment, but by how much exactly? On average, hybrid cars used 30% - 60% less fossil fuel than regular cars, meaning 30% - 60% less harmful emissions.

Fast take-off

Like electric cars, hybrid cars have instant torque, which translates to speeding away swiftly when the light goes green, leaving petrol and diesel cars in your dust.

Grants

Although hybrid cars don’t qualify for as many tax-breaks as electric cars do, they are still financially-attractive aids out there for Hybrids. The SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) offer VRT rebates of up to €5000, grants for the purchase of plug-in hybrids up to €2500, subsidized home charging point installation, and reduced M50 toll charges.

Quieter

Hybrid cars are silent when the petrol engine isn’t running, for example when you start them. Whether this is a positive point is up for debate. On the one hand, your neighbours will probably thank you when you’re 5 am start doesn’t wake them up, and you’ll no longer be contributing to urban noise pollution. 

On the other hand, manufacturers have started adding noise to hybrid cars due to an increase in incidents of pedestrians stepping in front of them as they didn’t hear them coming.

Less maintenance

Hybrid cars require less maintenance as there is less wear and tear on the diesel/petrol engine as it is turned off when the car is stopped or driving slowly. This means fewer parts moving and fewer oil changes.


Issues with hybrid cars

As much as we wish it were so, it’s not all sunshine and ecological-rainbows when it comes to hybrid cars. Below we detail some issues that may crop up.

Hybrids have two batteries

Although you would think that the electric engine would power all things electrical, in fact, hybrid cars have a smaller battery to power accessories such as lights, which can still be drained and need a jump start.

More expensive initially

There is no denying that until technology catches up and becomes cheaper, hybrid cars will continue to carry a heftier price tag than their less environmentally friendly counterparts.

Not all hybrids are created equal

While there are many advantages in general to having a hybrid car, this also depends on the quality of the vehicle you buy, so do your research. Some cars, for example, cannot run heat and air-conditioning on the electric system alone, and so they shut off when the car stops at a traffic light. 

A mild annoyance during the typical Irish summer, but a massive inconvenience come wintertime.

Less efficiency on the motorway

As hybrid cars are designed to work more efficiently in the cities, you won’t see any savings or much improvement if you tend to drive mostly on the motorway.

Performance

Hybrid cars are built to be efficient, not racing cars. They don’t have exotic tuned suspensions and flat out are slower when compared to regular cars. If it’s high-performance you’re looking for, then you may be better off with a regular sports car.


The best hybrid cars in Ireland 2019

Got some cash to splash? Or looking for a more economical hybrid option? Eye up our list of the top hybrid cars in Ireland in 2019 before you make any decisions.

*Rating averaged from Top Gear, Autocar, and Car and Driver reviews.

Car
Hybrid/Plug-in hybrid?
Rating*
Pricing from:

Toyota Corolla

Hybrid

7/10

€25,380

BMW 530e

Plug-in hybrid

8/10

€51,000

Lexus ES300h

Hybrid

6.5/10

€49,450

Kia Niro

Plug-in hybrid

6.6/10

€31,495

Mitsubishi Outlander

Plug-in hybrid

6.3/10

€39,900

Toyota C-HR

Hybrid

7/10

€27,170

Honda CR-V

Hybrid

8/10

€38,000


Can hybrid cars save you money?

Three stacks of bank notes and various piles of coins

Unfortunately, regular hybrid cars…probably not. Unlike electric cars, the higher costs of buying hybrid cars are not easily offset by fuel-savings, even with SEAI grants available. If cost-effectiveness is really your main priority then you should consider buying a car second hand, and/or look into purchasing a plug-in hybrid.

It can also help to read up on how much fuel savings drivers make when considering a particular type of hybrid, then apply that to your yearly fuel costs and see how many years it would take you to recover the difference in price. You’ll also need to take into account whether you’ll be using it mainly for city driving (more efficient and therefore lower fuel costs) or driving longer distances or using motorways.


Before buying a hybrid car

Before considering buying a hybrid car, figure out whether you wish to purchase a “regular” hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. Regular hybrid cars power their electric motor and recharge their battery using regenerative braking. In regular hybrid cars the electric motor can work alongside the petrol or gas-fuelled motor or allow it to turn off altogether (e.g. when stopped in traffic).

Plug-in hybrids, however, can be charged from the mains. This also means that they have more power stored in their battery and can drive further on electricity alone. Depending on which plug-in hybrid you opt for, the range may be enough that you never have to turn on your petrol/diesel engine for your daily commute, yet still have the option of a backup fuel engine for occasional longer trips.

With plug in-hybrids, unlike regular hybrids, due to the much cheaper price of electricity to power your cars, it is entirely likely to save you some money. Plus, the option of switching to a petrol or diesel tank solves the issue of range that all-electric cars suffer from. 

Remember that if you purchase a plug-in hybrid, you will also need a charging station for it, whereas with a regular hybrid you only need to worry about fuel.


How to charge a plug-in hybrid car

In Ireland, plug-in hybrid cars and electric cars are normally charges at home. While technically you could just plug your car directly into the mains through a regular socket, we don’t recommend it for safety reasons. Your plug-in hybrid will also charge much faster if you charge it through a suitable charging station.

Charging stations can be installed by ESB and come in two different charging speeds, so make sure you opt for one which will leave your battery fully charged for when you need it.

Some workplaces in Ireland also provide plug-in points, and Ireland has a well-developed infrastructure of free plug-on points. You can check this map to see if there are any near you. However, we do not recommend depending on free public charging points, as they may be occupied or malfunctioning when you most need them.

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