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Should Our Self-Driving Cars Be Electric or Hybrid?

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GM’s self-driving Chevy Bolt
Photo: Digital Trends

Self-driving vehicles have brought up a number of hotly-debated topics to the automotive industry, including whether or not self-driving cars will work on roads with human drivers on them, how people around the car will know what it is trying to do, or even whether or not self-driving cars will destroy the truck driver job market.

Now, a new issue has arisen on the future of self-driving cars, focused on more practical matters—should autonomous vehicles be hybrids or electrics?

The Electric: Meet the new 2017 Chevy Bolt EV

On the side of electrics is General Motors, who so far has used the Bolt EV as its vehicle of choice for self-driving vehicle and testing—GM’s motto on the subject has been “Zero emissions. Zero crashes. Zero congestion.” This outlook is focused on environmental sustainability and saving emissions. However, this has a bit of a problem in that, at least so far, electric vehicles have been more expensive than their gas-burning counterparts, and with a few notable exceptions (like the Bolt), have limited range.

On the other side of the coin is one of GM’s major rivals at Ford. Ford’s approach is firmly in the hybrid camp, citing maximum range on the road, and the ability to better support the various systems in electric vehicles. This approach is based on cost of ownership, as Ford’s Executive Vice President James Farley pointed out to Automotive News, saying, “Anytime you’re not carrying goods and people, you’re losing money. The most important thing is uptime and profitability.”

The Hybrid: Check out the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt

Both approaches have their own merits, though there are some exterior issues at play here, including the number of electric chargers in the area, and the automaker’s intentions in producing self-driving vehicles and ability to make electric vehicles.

The winner, in the case, will simply have to appear with time.

News Source: The Verge, Automotive News (subscription required)