Hybrid cars dominate our news headlines and our roads these days. There is barely a car manufacturer left who doesn’t make one. That’s because they are great for our environment and great on fuel economy. They cut our reliance on fossil fuels which is damaging to the planet. Not only that but they save us a fortune at the gas pumps. Nowadays, they perform nearly as well as traditional engines too.
If you’re not fully aware of how hybrid engines work, here’s a quick breakdown. They have a an electric motor that will typically power the car. They then also have a traditional combustion engine that is used to keep the electric battery charged. You’ll still top up with petrol, but only to keep the electric motor running. When at home, most hybrids can be plugged into a charging system or your mains electricity. This will restore their charge to full.
A lot of people are considering trading in their old fuel munching car for a hybrid. With good reason. They are great little cars now. They are versatile and you no longer have to compromise on looks and power. There are plenty of options out there. But, before you put your hard earned money on the line, let’s look at some pros and cons. No purchase should be rushed into. Do you research and figure out if a hybrid works for your lifestyle.
Buying a hybrid car is a step in the right direction towards saving the planet. The burning of fossil fuels has had a devastating effect on our environment. It has caused unprecedented warming of the earth and rising sea levels. We are still only beginning to understand the effects this will have in the long term. Our energy consumption is changing. Electric cars are just the start and buying one is taking a step into a sensible future. Governments are slowly enforcing a reduction of fossil fuel reliance. This has started with businesses but will affect your everyday life sooner than you think. Electric and hybrid cars are the future. Making the change to a hybrid vehicle helps to future proof your life.
Hybrid cars make considerably better milage than conventional cars. This is especially true in a city environment. They are perfect for the stop-start driving in town centres. That’s why you’ll see so many Toyota Priuses and Honda Insights around town. Many will do up to 60mpg in the city. Some conventional cars struggle to reach 20mpg around town. You will spend much less time filling up at the pumps, saving you a small fortune.
Incentives vary from state to state and country to country. However, most local authorities and governments now offer tax breaks to low emitting car users. If you buy a hybrid car, you are subject to much lower road tax than conventional users. In the UK a hybrid car incurs zero road tax. They can also use London’s expensive congestion charge zone for free. More and more businesses are also investing in hybrids for their company cars as it incurs lower charges.
They are lighter and quieter
Hybrid cars have less dense mechanics and machinery. As a result they are typically much lighter than their traditional counterparts. This also contributes to great mileage. The drive is almost silent in a hybrid car. Gone are the wheezing coughs and rattles of a combustion engine. Instead, you get a gentle purr of an electric motor.
Hybrid cars are efficient and make use of many aspects of the car to generate power. Regenerative braking is one of the smartest of these technologies. Braking creates intense friction and heat which can be translated into power. This is diverted back to the motor to keep it running.
Higher resale value
Due to the huge demand of hybrid cars, their resale value is much higher than traditional cars. Head to your local Pentagon Group dealer and see for yourself. This is also helped by the fact that they haven’t been on the market long. The first Prius was introduced in 1997, so there aren’t a great deal of used hybrids available. Although they cost more upfront, they make it back on resale.
Although they are catching up, hybrids still fall short of the traditional gas engine in terms of power. They are not built for speed, they are built for economy and good mileage. You will sacrifice the top speeds and the acceleration power. That is not to say they are not nippy and speedy around town. But, if you want to open her up on the open highway, you don’t want a hybrid.
That is not to say that they handle badly. They are just not quite as responsive as a conventional car. This is because the electric engine is housed at the rear of the car. For weight and safety reasons, this is the best place for it. Most cars however are front wheel drive – well away from the electric engine. This causes a higher centre of gravity making it slightly more difficult to handle.
The loss of weight is also a factor here. Although it makes for great milage, the lower weight makes it a little more difficult to handle. Again, however, they are not designed for taking racing corners. They don’t need super responsive steering. The cars are purpose built for fuel economy.
There’s no getting around it, they are expensive to buy. Sticker price is often $5000-$10,000 more than their equivalent conventional car. Although most of the car is cheaper to produce, the lithium ion battery costs a fortune to develop. That is reflected in the price. Even the used cars still fetch a premium. Although they save money on fuel, this doesn’t help the first time buyer in stumping up the cash.
Higher maintenance costs
This is a risk you have to analyse when looking at a hybrid. They are generally more reliable than a conventional car. There are less parts to go wrong, for example. It isn’t so reliant on moving mechanics, oil and transmission. However, if there is a problem, there are less people qualified to deal with it. With such a new technology, the lithium ion battery components are expensive. So is the labour that comes with it.
In the end, it comes down to whether or not a hybrid fits into your lifestyle. If you mostly do city driving and want to cut fuel bills, a hybrid is exactly what you want. If you still want some racing power and efficiency over long drives, maybe look elsewhere. The technology is getting better and it will soon grow to create a great all round car. For now, there are still a few hiccups.
Authors: Kristin J. Lavigne from RideLugged.com