The safety and reliability of electric cars

Looking at electric safety

Discover how safe electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars are, and whether you can drive one in a storm.


Are hybrid cars safe?

Yes. All electric, hybrid car and plug-in hybrid vehicles go through the same European NCAP safety checks as ordinary vehicles. They all have larger, more powerful batteries, but these are housed in protective compartments, so they're just as safe as ordinary cars.


Can I drive a hybrid in a thunderstorm?

Yes, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles are just as safe as ordinary cars in a thunderstorm. The car bodies are built the same way, creating a ‘Faraday cage effect’, meaning the lightning current flows from the car's metal cage into the ground below. So, you’re just as protected and insulated as you would be in an ordinary modern car.

Maintaining an electric vehicle

Find out if owning an electric vehicle is more expensive to maintain and whether you need a specialised mechanic.


Can any mechanic work on a hybrid?

No, an electric vehicle, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid all have different maintenance requirements, requiring specialist knowledge.

Electric Vehicle Maintenance

Needs less maintenance than conventional cars – no fluids (oil and transmission) to change, but still requires specialist knowledge.

Hybrid Maintenance

Most hybrids will need specialists when working on the battery, but many mechanics are already trained and experienced in working on them.

Plug-in Hybrid Maintenance

PHEV's have similar maintenance requirements to conventional cars, but you’ll need to ensure your mechanic is trained – especially if looking at the battery.


Is hybrid maintenance more expensive than a standard vehicle?

No. Both hybrids and plug-in hybrids have electric motors and rely less on the engine power alone. This means you won't need to service the engines or replace moving parts as often. A pure electric vehicle is easier to maintain as there’s no internal combustion engine – only an electric motor – so your servicing charges will be significantly less.

Electric vehicle reliability

Learn about the reliability of a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric vehicle


What reliability issues might hybrids have?

Electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles all use an electric motor to a greater or lesser extent. An electric motor has fewer moving parts compared to a petrol or diesel engine – in other words, there's less to break or go wrong – so all forms of electric transport are typically more reliable.


Can hybrid batteries explode?

No, the current generation of batteries used in hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars have non-explosive nickel metal hydride cells. There is a slim chance the battery could be damaged in an accident, but it's extremely unlikely as the battery is sited under the floor and surrounded by a protective layer.


Do hybrids lack in performance?

Yes, there can be a small drop in power within a hybrid, this is to create fuel efficiency. A plug-in hybrid increases fuel efficiency without compromising on power. Electric vehicles are sometimes slower than petrol and diesel-powered cars, but still reach speeds of 80-90 mph – if you’re following the speed limit, that’s all you’ll need.


Can a hybrid reduce my carbon footprint?

Yes. Most hybrids use an electric motor to accelerate the vehicle up to speeds of around 25mph – a petrol engine then takes over. This means less reliance on the engine, which does reduce your environmental impact, but a typical hybrid can't go far on electric power alone. Plug-in hybrids tend to have larger batteries, allowing them to drive significant distances on electric power. In a pure electric car, you never burn fossil fuel, so the carbon footprint is tiny.

Further reading

We answer your questions on other electric topics.