In the world of survivalism and preparedness, there are many considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right bug out vehicle for when the SHTF (S*** Hits The Fan). One of the key questions that survivalists often grapple with is whether to choose a gas-powered vehicle or an electric one for their escape plan. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of both gas and electric cars to help you make an informed decision.
A survivalist bug-out vehicle is a type of vehicle that is specially prepared and equipped to facilitate an individual or group's escape or "bug out" in the event of an emergency or disaster. The term "bug out" refers to leaving your current location quickly to seek safety and shelter elsewhere, typically in response to a catastrophic event, such as natural disasters, civil unrest, economic collapse, or other crisis situations.
Features and Characteristics of Survivalist Bug-Out Vehicles
Bug-out vehicles are designed and customized to enhance the chances of survival and mobility during challenging times.
- Reliability: Bug-out vehicles are often chosen for their reliability and ruggedness. They should be able to handle rough terrain and adverse conditions. Many survivalists prefer older, well-maintained vehicles as they tend to have fewer electronic components that could fail.
- Off-Road Capability: Vehicles with off-road capabilities are favored, as they can handle various terrains and obstacles, allowing you to reach remote and safer locations. Four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles are common choices.
- Versatility: The bug-out vehicle should be versatile and capable of carrying essential supplies, including food, water, medical kits, weapons, and survival gear. Some may have additional storage space, roof racks, or towing capabilities.
- Self-Sufficiency: Some survivalists modify their bug-out vehicles to be more self-sufficient. They may add solar panels, extra fuel storage, or water purification systems to reduce the need for external resources.
- Fuel Efficiency: Fuel efficiency can be important, as it extends the range and duration of travel on limited fuel supplies. Hybrid or diesel vehicles are sometimes preferred for their fuel economy.
- Security: Security is a significant consideration. Some bug-out vehicles are reinforced with security features, such as bulletproof glass, armor plating, or additional locks, to protect the occupants from threats like marauders.
- Communication: Equipping the vehicle with communication tools like two-way radios, walkie-talkies, or satellite phones can be essential for staying in contact with other group members or receiving emergency information.
- Navigation: GPS systems and physical maps are crucial for navigating unfamiliar terrain and finding the safest routes.
- Camouflage: Some survivalists may employ camouflage techniques to make their vehicles less conspicuous and avoid drawing unwanted attention during times of crisis.
- Maintenance and Spare Parts: Keeping the vehicle well-maintained and having spare parts on hand is essential, as finding mechanics and replacement parts might be difficult during an emergency.
The specific choice of a bug-out vehicle can vary widely depending on an individual's preferences, budget, and the nature of the potential threats they are preparing for. It's important to note that while having a well-prepared bug-out vehicle can be part of a comprehensive survival plan, the overall preparedness should include additional factors such as food storage, shelter, self-defense, and first aid, among others.
Deciding Which Type of Bug-Out Car is Best for Your Needs
Pros of Gas-Powered Cars
Gas-powered cars, also known as internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, have been the dominant form of transportation for many decades. They come with several advantages that make them popular among consumers:
- Proven Technology: Gasoline-powered vehicles have a long history of development and refinement. This means that the technology is well-established, and there is a wealth of knowledge and expertise in manufacturing, maintenance, and repair. As a result, finding mechanics, replacement parts, and service for gas-powered cars is generally easier and more accessible.
- Widespread Fuel Availability: Gasoline is readily available in most parts of the world, making refueling convenient. Gas stations are widespread, ensuring that you can fill up your tank in urban and rural areas, which is especially important in emergency situations.
- Long Range: Gas-powered cars typically have longer driving ranges on a full tank of gas compared to electric cars on a single charge. This means you can travel greater distances without the need for frequent refueling, which can be advantageous in long road trips or during emergencies when refueling options may be limited.
- Quick Refueling: Filling up a gas tank is a relatively quick process, usually taking only a few minutes. This contrasts with electric vehicles that can take considerably longer to charge, especially if you are not near a high-speed charging station.
- High Performance: Gasoline engines can provide powerful acceleration and high top speeds. This makes gas-powered cars suitable for various driving conditions, including highway driving and off-roading.
- Towing Capacity: Many gas-powered vehicles, particularly trucks and SUVs, offer substantial towing capacity. This makes them ideal for hauling trailers, boats, or other heavy loads.
- Cold Weather Performance: Gas-powered engines tend to perform well in cold weather conditions. They don't lose efficiency or range due to temperature extremes, unlike some electric vehicles that may experience reduced battery performance in extreme cold.
- Lower Upfront Cost: In general, gas-powered cars tend to be more affordable upfront compared to electric vehicles with similar features. This can make them an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers.
- Well-Established Infrastructure: The infrastructure supporting gasoline-powered vehicles, including gas stations, repair shops, and a network of dealerships, is well-established and readily available in most areas.
- Customization: Gas-powered vehicles often offer a wide range of options, from economy to rugged off-road vehicles. This allows preppers to choose a vehicle that suits their specific needs and preferences.
Cons of Gas-Powered Cars
While gas-powered cars offer these advantages, it's important to acknowledge that they also come with drawbacks, such as emissions, dependence on fossil fuels, and the potential for rising fuel costs. Here are some of the key cons of gas-powered cars:
- Fuel Costs: The cost of gasoline can vary widely and is subject to fluctuations in the global oil market. High fuel prices can significantly impact the cost of ownership and operation of gas-powered vehicles, especially when demand is high during an emergency or disaster scenario.
- Noise and Vibration: Gasoline engines are known for their noise and vibration, which can result in a less comfortable and louder driving experience if you are needing it for long-range drives or to be stealthy.
- Maintenance Requirements: Gas-powered cars have more moving parts and complex systems, leading to increased maintenance requirements. Regular oil changes, spark plug replacements, and exhaust system repairs are common, adding to the overall cost of ownership – many cars now also include digital components which require specialty (and costly) repair that cannot always be done DIY.
- Emissions Regulations: Gas-powered vehicles must adhere to increasingly strict emissions regulations in many countries. Meeting these standards can add costs to vehicle manufacturing and maintenance and may result in more complex and expensive exhaust and emissions control systems.
- Lower Fuel Efficiency: Gasoline engines are less fuel-efficient than electric/hybrid motors, leading to higher fuel consumption and more frequent trips to the gas station. This means more money spent on fuel.
- Risk of Fuel Shortages: During natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, or other emergencies, gas stations may run out of fuel. This can leave gas-powered vehicle owners without access to the fuel they need to operate their vehicles during critical times.
Pros of Electric Cars
Electric-powered cars, often referred to as electric vehicles (EVs), have gained popularity due to their numerous advantages. These advantages make them an attractive choice for many consumers. Here are some of the key pros of electric-powered cars:
- Clean Operation: Electric cars are known for their clean operation. In a survival situation, this can be an advantage as it won't emit exhaust fumes that could endanger the occupants, especially in closed environments or during cold weather when the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is high.
- Silent Idling: Electric vehicles can idle without producing noise or emissions. This can be particularly useful for situations where quiet operation is preferred, such as in residential neighborhoods or confined spaces.
- Lower Maintenance Requirements: Electric cars have fewer moving parts and don't require oil changes or transmission servicing. This reduces maintenance costs and the frequency of service visits, simplifying the ownership experience.
- Longer Lifespan: Electric motors tend to have a longer lifespan than gasoline engines. They are generally more durable and have fewer components subject to wear and tear.
- Home Charging Convenience: Electric vehicle owners can charge their cars at home using standard household outlets or dedicated charging stations. This convenience eliminates the need to visit gas stations and allows for easy overnight charging.
- Lower Operating Costs: Electric cars have lower operating costs than gas-powered vehicles. Electricity is generally cheaper than gasoline, and EVs have fewer moving parts, reducing the need for maintenance and repairs. They also benefit from longer brake pad life due to regenerative braking.
- Instant Torque: Electric motors deliver instant torque, providing quick acceleration and responsive performance. This makes electric vehicles enjoyable to drive, and they can outperform many gasoline-powered cars in terms of acceleration.
- Solar Power Alternative: Electronic vehicles can be powered using solar power. Solar energy is a reliable and readily available resource, available for most of the day. Solar power can also be harnessed into battery banks which allows a consumer to use solar power any time of day, as needed.
Cons of Electric Cars
While electric vehicles offer these advantages, it's important to consider factors like charging infrastructure, range limitations, and the environmental impact of battery production and disposal. Here are some of the cons of electric-powered cars:
- Low Ground Clearance: Electric vehicles, especially smaller models, often have lower ground clearance than their gas-powered counterparts. This can be a disadvantage when you need to navigate rugged or flooded terrains.
- Dependency on Charging Infrastructure: One of the most significant drawbacks of electric cars in a survivalist context is their dependence on a functioning power grid, for those who can't harness solar power. If the power grid goes down, there is no way to charge an electric vehicle, rendering it useless. Unlike gasoline, electricity is not as readily available in remote locations.
- Need for a Tow if Out of Power: If you run out of power while you're away from a charging station, you'll need to arrange for a tow. This could be a significant issue if towing services become unavailable during an emergency.
- Limited Range: Electric vehicles (EVs) typically have a limited driving range on a single charge compared to the range of a gasoline-powered car on a full tank of fuel. While range has been improving with newer EV models, long road trips may require more planning and charging stops.
- Charging Time: Charging an electric vehicle is not as quick and convenient as refueling a gas-powered car. Even with fast-charging stations, it can take 30 minutes to an hour or more to achieve a full charge, whereas filling up a gas tank takes only a few minutes.
- Home Charging Access: Owning an electric car may require access to a charging station at home, such as a Level 2 charger. Not all residences have the necessary infrastructure, and installation costs can be substantial.
- Upfront Cost: Electric vehicles often have a higher upfront purchase price compared to similar gasoline-powered vehicles. While this cost difference is decreasing, it can still be a barrier for some potential buyers.
- Limited Battery Lifespan: The battery in an electric car will degrade over time, affecting the vehicle's range. Replacing a battery pack can be expensive and may not be covered by warranties for the entire vehicle.
- Range Anxiety: Some drivers may experience range anxiety, which is the fear of running out of battery power before reaching a charging station. This concern can affect the driving habits of some EV owners, leading to unnecessary charging stops.
- Charging Compatibility: Not all electric vehicles can be charged at all charging stations due to varying plug types and standards. This can be confusing for consumers and may limit their options for charging.
3 General Bug-Out Vehicle Preparedness Tips
In either case, whether you choose a gas or electric vehicle for your bug out plan, some general preparedness tips are essential:
1. Keep Your Vehicle Full: Always keep your vehicle's fuel tank, whether gas or electric, as close to full as possible. You never know when you'll need to make a quick escape, and having a full tank can be a lifesaver.
2. Maintain Your Vehicle: Regular vehicle maintenance is crucial. Ensure your bug out vehicle is in good working condition, and all systems are functioning correctly.
3. Stock Up on Essentials: Prepare an emergency kit with essential supplies, including food, water, medical supplies, and tools, in your bug out vehicle. These supplies can make a big difference in a survival situation.