CNG car, hybrid car, electric car or plug-in hybrid?

Look, compare and decide

CNG car, hybrid car, electric car or plug-in hybrid?

Look, compare and decide

Thinking about buying an environmentally friendly car? Great! But which type? Electric, CNG, hybrid or plug-in hybrid? We compare the advantages and disadvantages and tell you everything about the grants and taxes. Check them out, weight them up and decide.

Electric car: for around town and short distances

Advantages

Met een elektrische auto stoot je geen CO2 uit, rij je stil, verbruik je bijna niets en moet je minder onderhoudskosten betalen. Je betaalt geen verkeersbelastingen en krijgt een mooie subsidie.

Want to drive virtually 100% environmentally friendly? The natural choice is then an electric car. It emits no CO2, drives silently, consumes less and is cheaper to service because there are no engine maintenance costs. Because you don't have a gear box, you use your motor's full power when pulling away and have smooth acceleration.

Charging your battery costs less than filling up with diesel or petrol. In Flanders you  don't pay any road tax to drive your car and your purchase qualifies for a tidy grant. In Brussels and Wallonia, you pay tax at the minimum rate. If you take account of the cost of the car and the cost of charging the batteries, the price per kilometre is then higher than for cars with an internal combustion engine. If you’ve got solar panels on your roof or generate your own electricity, then, you can drive as good as free. 

Most models have an electric motoring range of between 150 and 200 km before you need to get home or find an EV charging station. If you're prepared to move up to a higher price class, you'll find vehicles with a range of 300 to 500 km.

Disadvantages

Electric cars are still quite a bit more expensive than other models in the same class. That's because of the cost of the battery. Your maximum speed is less than cars with an internal combustion engine. The faster you drive, the greater the demand that is placed on the motor and the lower the distance you can cover.

Belgium still has far too few charging stations, though the government is hard at work extending the network. If you regularly motor long distances, you have to know ahead of time where you can pull in to charge the battery in your car. Locate charging stations near you or along your route.

Charging speed

Hoe snel laad je je elektrische auto op? Dat hangt af van het vermogen dat je gebruikt. Bij je thuis kan dat tot 10 uur duren. Aan een snellaadpaal tank je in maximaal een halfuur 80% van je batterij vol.

A complete charge at home can easily take three to five hours for smaller models and seven to ten hours for bigger cards. The speed with which you can charge your battery whilst on the road depends on the rating of the EV charging station. The higher the rating, the shorter the 'fill-up.'

  • A charging station up to 11 kW will charge you at normal speed. It'll take at least two hours to fill up.
  • A station rated at up to 22 kW will charge you up faster. It'll take a minimum of one hour to charge the car.
  • A fast-charge station rated at 50 kW will charge your battery 80% in 15 to 30 minutes.

Note that not every electric car can be hooked up to a fast-charge station. Enquire with the seller whether your car's battery is suitable for DC fast-charge stations.

Renting batteries

Some electric vehicles are sold without a battery, which you then lease or rent. The rental can be fixed or calculated based on the term of your rental contract and the mileage you drive each year. EV batteries cost several thousands of euros and still won't last a lifetime. The advantage of renting? You never have to replace your battery and the cost alone won't prompt you to consider buying a new car.

Plug-in hybrid: compromise between green and range

Advantages

A plug-in hybrid uses a diesel or petrol engine plus an electric motor. You can charge the battery at home or work from a regular socket. If you often motor in town or mainly do short distances, a plug-in hybrid is certainly worth considering. On short journeys and in built-up areas, you use very little, if anything at all. The combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor means your range is as far as with a petrol or diesel engine vehicle. The Flemish government is currently encouraging people to buy plug-in hybrids: until the end of 2020, you pay no vehicle registration tax or road tax.

Disadvantages

Even plug-in hybrids are expensive to buy. The large battery takes up a lot of space and makes the vehicle heavier. The range when using electric power only is still fairly limited: between 20 and 50 km. Maximum speed while driving electric is low: usually no more than 50 kph. And, of course, it's not so good for the environment.

Electric cars with range extender: for longer journeys

Advantages

Een elektrische auto met range extender heeft een kleine brandstofmotor aan boord. Hij laadt je batterij op wanneer die niet genoeg stroom meer heeft.

Fancy getting an electric car with range extender? A range extender lets you motor farther on electric than with a purely electric car. It's actually a little internal combustion engine that charges the battery when you're short on charge. The electric motor continues to power the vehicle. Handy if you want to drive longer distances but still want to drive electric. You'll need to fill up with diesel or petrol occasionally to keep your range extender at the ready.

Disadvantages

An electric car with a range extender is less environmentally friendly than its electric cousin owing to the extra internal combustion engine. You also carry extra weight, which eats into your autonomy and makes your car less dynamic. An electric car with a range extender is actually a plug-in hybrid. You pay the same vehicle registration tax and road tax.

Hybrid cars: for long-distance motoring by people who live or work in town

Advantages

A full hybrid combines a diesel or petrol engine with a small electric motor and battery. Your car is driven by both power sources. Your electric motor helps limit consumption when setting off of accelerating. The internal combustion engine charges your battery. At low speed, you drive fully electric, at higher speed you switch to internal combustion. Note that, driving purely electric will take you no farther than five kilometres. The electric motor means your car consumes less and emits less CO2. You pay fewer servicing charges because your internal combustion engine consumes less. The electric motor needs no servicing.

Disadvantages

Met een hybride auto rij je aan lage snelheid volledig elektrisch, aan hogere snelheid op brandstof. Puur elektrisch is de afstand beperkt tot hooguit 5 kilometer.

The big disadvantage of hybrids is price. The extra cost only pays off if you drive a lot in town or hit a lot of congestion and if you drive more than 35,000 km per year. The reason is that the additional cost has to be recouped in the lower consumption. Because a hybrid car still virtually runs entirely using classic fuel, it's the least environmentally friendly of all green cars. And you pay regular vehicle registration tax and road tax.

And think about it: you have an internal combustion engine, an electric motor and a battery all on board. They up the weight of the car and mean you often have less boot space. If you occasionally tow a caravan or trailer, hybrid is not a good idea. The electric motor doesn't have the power to tow heavy weights.

CNG cars: for environmentally friendly long-distance drivers

CNG is compressed natural gas and differs from LPG, which is a by-product of petrol and diesel refining processes.

Advantages

A CNG car emits 90% less fine particles and 30% less CO2 than a diesel or petrol vehicle. Natural gas is also 10% cheaper than diesel and 30% cheaper than petrol.

Filling up is equally as quick as for a petrol or diesel vehicle and much quicker than for an electric vehicle. The CNG tank is fitted into the floor of the car, which means you don't lose any boot space.

With various car brands combining CNG with petrol, you can continue driving when your CNG tank is empty. If you want to drive in an even more environmentally friendly manner, you can fill up with biogas. And as with plug-in hybrids, you don't have to pay any vehicle registration tax or road tax until the end of 2020 in Flanders.

Disadvantages

A CNG car runs exclusively on electricity at low speeds and on fuel at higher speeds. Pure electric, range is limited to no more than five kilometres.

A CNG car is also more expensive to buy than a petrol car, and often cheaper than its diesel and electric cousins. The CNG tank is heavy and quite large, which influences how far you can drive. At present, there aren't many filling stations in Belgium either (around 100) where you can refuel with natural gas. Find a CNG station near you.

You can convert your vehicle from diesel or petrol to CNG, though that will cost between 2 000 and 4 000 euros or more. Only accredited fitters may carry out such a conversion (there are 15 in Belgium). View the list

Compare: how far on average do you drive pure electric or on natural gas?

 

Up to 5 km

Up to 50 km

Up to 300 km

Up to 500 km

Hybrid      
Plug-in hybrid

   
Electric


 
Range extender



CNG

How you drive determines your advantage

Is an environmentally friendly car more advantageous than a diesel or petrol car? Or isn't it? It all depends on how you drive. What's your annual mileage? How long are you going to keep the car? Is your driving style economical or sporty? The Flemish government's milieuvriendelijkevoertuigen.be website lets you compare electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid and CNG cars with equivalent internal combustion models. You can see straight away how much the basic model will cost you. It gives you details of how much you save with a green car. Or how much extra you have to fork out. Do the calculation.

Grants for electric cars

Since 1 January 2016, you've been able to get a grant for new electric cars in Flanders: zero-emissions allowance. The allowance is up to 4.000 euros and depends on the car's list price including VAT, without options or discount. If you rent your car's battery, the Flemish government adds 36 months of rentals including VAT to the list price.

Go to energiesparen.be to see all the electric cars you can claim a grant for and how much the grant is for that model. Grants are subject to two conditions, however: you have to register the vehicle in Flanders and keep it for at least three years. There also only one grant per person. The maximum amounts reduce annually until 2019. In 2020, the allowance will be abolished. Check out how much you need to apply for.

No grant is available for CNGs, hybrids, plug-in hybrids or quadricycles (electric motorcycles on four wheels for which you don't need a driving licence, like the Renault Twizy and the Toyota iQ).

Your car's list price

2017

2018

2019

< 31,000 euros

4,000 euros

3,000 euros

2,000 euros

31,000 - 41,000 euros

3,500 euros

2,500 euros

1,500 euros

41,000 - 61,000 euros

2,500 euros

2,000 euros

1,500 euros

> 61,000 euros

2,000 euros

1,500 euros

1,000 euros

No grants are (yet) available in Brussels or Wallonia.

Tax

Liability to vehicle registration tax (BIV/TMC) and annual road tax.

Flanders

 

Vehicle registration tax

Road tax

Electric

No

No

Plug-in hybrid

Exempt till 31 December 2020
Conditions:
  • Can be charged using regular socket
  • CO2 emissions < 50 g/km

Exempt till 31 December 2020
Conditions:

  • Can be charged using regular socket
  • CO2 emissions < 50 g/km

Hybrid

Based on fuel type, emission standard and CO2 emissions

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

CNG Exempt until 31 December 2020. Exempt until 31 December 2020.

Brussels

 

Vehicle registration tax

Road tax

Electric

Minimum rate of 61.50 euros

Minimum rate of 77.35 euros

Plug-in hybrid

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

Hybrid

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

CNG Based on fiscal horsepower (power rating) Based on fiscal horsepower (power rating)

Wallonia

 

Vehicle registration tax

Road tax

Electric

Minimum rate of 61.50 euros

Minimum rate of 77.35 euros

Plug-in hybrid 

  • Based on fiscal horsepower
    (power rating)
  • Ecological harm tax for
    CO2 emissions > 145 g/km

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

Hybrid

  • Based on fiscal horsepower
    (power rating)
  • Ecological harm tax for
    CO2 emissions > 145 g/km

Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

CNG
  • Based on fiscal horsepower
    (power rating)
  • Ecological harm tax for
    CO2 emissions > 145 g/km
Based on fiscal horsepower
(power rating)

Loans for electric, hybrid or CNG cars

Electric, CNG, hybrid or plug-in hybrid: for an ecological car, you still have to cough up more than for a diesel or petrol engine car. With a KBC Brussels Car Loan:

  • borrow up to 110% of the total purchase price, including VAT
  • get a beneficial rate
  • choose yourself how much you pay off each month
  • no need to dip into your savings
  • fixed instalments each month

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