Are hybrid trucks worth it? Here are their pros and cons compared to gas and electric trucks.
By Ross Hibbs
Gas, Electric, Hybrid: Which Truck Is Best for You?
Fast facts about hybrid trucks
Hybrid trucks recharge themselves. These trucks cost thousands and thousands less than fully electric trucks. There is not much difference in the capacity of a hybrid truck versus a gas-only truck. A full hybrid truck produces approximately 50% of the tailpipe emissions of a gas-only truck. a truck.
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to face the reality of purchasing a car with some degree of electrification, perhaps sooner rather than later.
There are plenty of electrified opportunities for those looking for a car or SUV. However, electric options for pickup trucks are uniquely limited. This isn’t too surprising since pickup truck owners hate change. Furthermore, for those who use their trucks for real work, all-electric trucks don’t live up to the capabilities and comfort of gas-powered pickup trucks.
Additionally, EV trucks cost thousands more than their internal combustion engine, or ICE, counterparts. For example, the entry-level EV Ford(F) F-150 Lightning Pro has a base price of $50,000. That’s about $16,000 more than the base ICE F-150 XL.
All things considered, the case for a hybrid truck over an EV truck is compelling. However, the case for buying a hybrid truck instead of an ICE truck is not nearly as compelling. Let’s take a closer look and see if a hybrid minivan is worth it for you.
What is a hybrid truck?
A hybrid truck uses a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor fed by a battery to generate propulsion. There are three types of hybrid systems: HEV (normal hybrid), PHEV (plug-in hybrid), and MHEV (mild hybrid).
HEV is short for a conventional gas-electric full hybrid system like the one found in the Toyota(TM) Prius. Unlike full electric trucks, hybrid trucks can extend a truck’s mileage and improve performance without the high price tag, range concerns, or the hassle and time suck of additional EV charging.
Typically, with a parallel HEV system, the ICE and electric motor share the work to turn the drive wheels. However, both the ICE and the motor can power the wheels independently. When accelerating from a stop, the electric motor can often propel the car short distances at speeds of less than 15 mpg or so. At higher speeds, the internal combustion engine (ICE) starts. When an extra boost of speed is needed while already on the move, the engine and internal combustion engine work together to generate the power boost.
The hybrid battery is charged primarily through energy captured from the vehicle’s braking system (regenerative braking). In addition, some engine power is transferred to the battery while the vehicle is running. The advantage of a parallel system over a series HEV is a smaller battery and lower price.
Where a parallel HEV system has an electric motor and an ICE that can work independently or in concert with each other to provide propulsion, a series hybrid uses an electric motor alone to power the wheels. The internal combustion engine supplies electrical energy to fuel the generator or charge the battery that feeds the electric motor. Regenerative braking also helps feed the battery. Think of the Chevy Volt.
Mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV).
We’ll touch on mild hybrid systems, because while they’re fairly common in cars and SUVs, they’ve only sporadically appeared in trucks. However, almost every new Ram 1500 truck sold today has a mild hybrid powertrain. They use a very small battery to help the ICE out by taking over powering some of the electrical components, especially when engines with automatic stop-start cut off engine power. The mild hybrid then takes over the task of conserving energy for systems such as air conditioning. When considered as part of an entire fuel economy system, mild hybrid vehicle (MHEV) systems help increase fuel economy by up to 15%.
Nowadays, you don’t have to worry about hybrids when truck shopping. There are no PHEV pickup trucks, or at least not yet. Ford has a PHEV Ranger in production, but we probably won’t see it until 2025, if ever. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) offers a larger battery than a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and can travel 25 miles or more at any speed on battery power alone. Charging the battery requires connecting it to an external electrical source, which can be a 110-volt household outlet or a 240-volt outlet like what your electric range uses via a Level 2 charger.
Learn more: What is EV, BEV, HEV, and PHEV? Here’s your guide to the types of electric cars
2024 Hybrid Truck List
The choices are relatively slim for hybrid trucks in 2024. We’ve compiled the shortlist to speed up your search. You can expect more hybrid trucks to fill this selection as time goes on.
2024 Toyota Tundra i-Force Max – A hybrid electric car, producing a whopping 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. It can tow up to 11,350 pounds and carry a payload of over 1,600 pounds. Estimated mileage with rear-wheel drive (RWD) is 22 mpg. Base price: $57,625.2024 Ford F-150 PowerBoost – A conventional hybrid electric vehicle, the F-150 PowerBoost delivers a combined power of 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is estimated at 12,700 pounds, with an estimated payload limit of more than 3,000 pounds. There are no estimated fuel economy numbers yet. Base Price (Lariat): $64,995.2024 Ram 1500 – Nearly every Ram model comes with Ram’s eTorque MHEV technology. The V6 and smaller V8 are MHEV engines. The V6 eTorque engine produces 305 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. It can tow 7,690 pounds with a maximum payload of 2,300 pounds. Government-estimated combined fuel economy is 22 mpg. Base price: $38,570,2024 Ford Maverick – Every Maverick model offers a 2.5-liter hybrid option. Because it’s a compact truck, the hybrid’s towing, payload and price are much lower than full-size hybrids. It produces 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. It can tow up to 2,000 pounds with a high payload capacity of 1,500 pounds. The government estimates total mileage at 37 mpg. Base price: $24,900.
SEE: Ford’s new Maverick hybrid truck is a cheaper alternative to massive pickup trucks
What about electric trucks?
In the grand scheme of converting our national vehicle fleet from internal combustion engine vehicles to all-electric vehicles, the truck conversion is a less than inspiring success. Generally speaking, any arguments against electric vehicles are greatly amplified when the discussion shifts from cars and SUVs to trucks. That’s not to say there aren’t examples of EV trucks; There definitely is. The Rivian (RIVN) R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning immediately come to mind. These electric vehicle trucks work well enough when they serve as just a means of transportation. In other words, as with electric cars, they mostly work as advertised when simply hauling around a driver and a passenger or two.
However, if you tow an 8,000-pound trailer or tow about 1,000 pounds of payload in the bed, the range will drop like a rock. This means that the estimated range falls short of the real-world experience when an EV pickup is used for actual work. You know, like trucks are supposed to do.
You don’t need to take my word for it. In June 2023, AAA released its findings on the impacts of transporting 1,400 pounds of cargo in the bed of an F-150 Lightning. The result: range decreased by more than 24% from 278 miles to 210 miles. Ford says the Lightning can tow up to 10,000 pounds. What effect does this have on the estimated range?
Pro tip: Given current battery technology, I’m willing to argue that there is a better alternative to an EV truck that can conserve fossil fuels, lower emissions, increase performance, and work as hard — or harder — than a snowmobile. Yes, you guessed it: a hybrid truck.
From the Archives (2020): Americans’ love affair with pickup trucks may derail their retirement plans
Advantages of hybrid trucks over electric trucks
Although hybrids are typically more expensive than their ICE counterparts within a brand, at the moment, only one real price comparison can be made between a similar brand’s electric and hybrid vehicles. They are the Ford F-150 Lightning and F-150 Hybrid. The entry-level Lightning trim is the Lariat. When comparing prices for the 2024 Lightning Lariat with the F-150 Lariat Hybrid, the hybrid is about $7,000 less. Although the amount of the price difference will vary, hybrid vs. electric is comparison after comparison, whether it’s with cars, SUVs, or the example of the Ford F-150 truck.
Read: The big problem with chargers that poses a challenge to electric car owners
As for towing, the Lightning with the regular range battery, reflected in the price comparison above, can tow 7,700 pounds. The F-150 Hybrid can tow 12,700 pounds. Maximum payload reaches 2,000 pounds versus 2,455.
What about gas trucks?
Internal combustion engine trucks are still very popular, both compared to electric trucks and hybrid electric trucks. Let’s go back to the Ford F-150. You can get an entry-level 2024 F-150 with a regular cab and the standard 5.0-liter V8 for $36,570. It can tow up to 13,500 pounds with a payload capacity of up to 3,325 pounds. The government-estimated combined fuel economy is 22 mpg, compared with the hybrid’s 25 mpg.
But what if we examined the ICE configuration more in line with the F-150 Hybrid? The entry-level F-150 Hybrid is the Lariat with SuperCrew Cab ($64,995). The F-150 Lariat SuperCrew with the standard 5.0-liter V8 ICE is (wait for it) $64,995. The ICE version can tow up to 12,900 pounds and tow up to 2,900 pounds. Government-estimated combined fuel economy remains at 20 mpg. The lack of sunlight is rare between the ICE F-150 Lariat and F-150 Lariat Hybrid prices. Typically, a hybrid car will cost between $1,000 and $3,000 more than a comparable ICE car.
Pros and cons of hybrid trucks
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