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Electric or traditional cars? Find out how different they are

Many people ask this question to understand how electric cars work and the differences between the various types. There are still questions about what distinguishes these from conventional vehicles, not to mention electric cars’ consumption and expenses.

Currently, electric cars are a sustainable mobility alternative, especially when compared with fossil fuel vehicles (such as diesel and gasoline). These, as one of the leading polluters worldwide, have led car manufacturers to think of a greener alternative: electric cars.

Black electric car charging at a station in a shopping center

Electric Cars vs. Combustion Cars

Are you thinking about changing your car? Naturally, you do, and many reasons can lead to this decision (depending on the kind of driver you are).

Which type of car should you choose: electric or combustion?

For many people, the weight of the decision lies in the monthly expenses for the car. CO2 emissions are also a strong reason for people to choose the greener option: electric cars.

In addition to producing no CO2 emissions and being very quiet, electric cars have much faster and more effective torque whenever the driver needs it, with a sufficient response time — frankly superior to combustion cars.

But what is an electric car anyway?

Usually, you can only tell an electric car from a conventional one by its displacement. When in motion, the electric vehicle is practically silent — all you hear, at times, is a small (almost unnoticeable) noise.

Simply put, electric cars are made up of 4 main components:

  • Battery: rechargeable and responsible for storing the electrical energy, which makes the vehicle move;
  • Inverter: converts the electric current into alternating current, which in turn is conducted to the induction motor;
  • Induction motor: when it receives the energy from the inverter, this motor works with the same electricity that drives the mechanisms (that make the vehicle move);
  • Energy recovery system: consists of devices that collect the energy generated by the car’s deceleration, reusing it for more autonomy kilometers.

Read also: Engine Control Unit: what is, the features, and possible failures

3 types of electric cars

Now that you know the components, discover the types of electric cars that exist (since there’s more than one). They all run on electricity, but not all run solely on this energy source. Some vehicles can also run on fuel. And there are 3 types of electric cars to know about:

  • Hybrids: with two engines (one electric and one combustion engine). If the electric power runs out, you can use the gasoline engine, for example. This energy is generated through the braking system.
  • Plug-in hybrids: very similar to hybrid vehicles, but the big difference is in the batteries, which in this case have greater autonomy.
  • Electrics: these are 100% electric vehicles, which work through the energy stored in the battery. This, in turn, is recharged through the braking system. It can also be charged at street charging stations.

What about autonomy? How does it work in electric cars?

This is an often-discussed question. Currently, the (newer) 100% electric models have good levels of autonomy (by this, we mean driving a longer distance without having to charge the battery).

The stated range kilometers differ between models and brands — most electric models already offer a range of more than 300 km on a single charge.

In hybrid cars, the range is shorter. On average, these cars cover 50 km in electric mode. On the other hand, they take less time to charge.

White electric car charging in a private garage

Electric cars: the main advantages and disadvantages

While electric cars have many advantages, these vehicles also have disadvantages. Before you decide to buy an electric car, consider the pros and cons.

Advantages of buying an electric car

Less CO2 emissions

Because these cars rely only on electric batteries to move, they emit no CO2. Needless to say, they help the environment this way.

Greater savings

Electric cars don’t use fossil fuels. So if you opt for such a vehicle, you’ll immediately save more — not least because fuel prices are still rising considerably.

Tax incentives

When you buy an electric car, you enjoy some tax benefits. Why? In Portugal, these vehicles are exempt from paying the Single Circulation Tax (IUC) and the Vehicle Tax (ISV), which translates into considerable savings.


These cars have lower maintenance costs because they have fewer parts and totally different mechanics (when compared to conventional vehicles).

Disadvantages of buying an electric car

More expensive

Although you can save in the long run, the truth is that the purchase price is the most significant disadvantage of an electric car. Even if batteries (and their replacement) may be cheaper soon, their current cost is still high.

The autonomy

Not all-electric cars can offer the same, or better, autonomy than conventional cars. Many drivers are afraid of running out of battery power in the middle of a trip, since these cars aren’t prepared for long-distance journeys.


While refueling a conventional car takes only a few minutes, charging an electric one can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours — or more than 10 to fully charge the batteries.

Charging points

If you need to take a longer route than usual or don’t have your car 100% charged, make sure there are charging points along the way.

Read also: Top best-selling brands in Europe in 2021

After all, how much does an electric car consume?

Do you want to know the average cost per kilometer driven compared to a standard car?

We did the math.

The medium/long-term savings with purchasing an electric car are concentrated in its consumption.

On average, a conventional car uses 6 liters to cover 100 kilometers. Taking into account the price of diesel (at €1.68/liter, at the date of this article’s publication) and the gasoline’s price (at €1.85/liter, at the date of this article’s publication), a diesel car spends €10.10 — while a gasoline car spends €11 to cover 100 kilometers.

In round figures, a conventional car spends an average of €10.55.

For the same journey, an electric car uses an average of 15 kWh of battery power. Assuming the electricity price of around €0.22/kWh, it will only cost €3.30 to drive the 100 kilometers.

Therefore, you can conclude that an electric car consumes less than half as much as a conventional car.

When it comes to buying: electric or conventional car?

The truth is that it depends.

On what?

On how you use your car. If you need to cover many or few kilometers; if you live in a big city with several charging points; if you have the initial capital to invest in an electric car…

In short, you should weigh countless factors in the balance and compare all the topics we clarified in this article. Consider the main features of electric cars and the different types that brands offer, so you can make a thoughtful decision.

We hope we have helped you ease the process. But don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.