How Do Hybrids Work
What is a hybrid?
Hybrids are cars that combine the most modern electrical technology with petrol engines, cutting emissions and saving gas, as well as delivering unbelievable fuel economy. The combination of electrical and gasoline motors helps make hybrid cars more environmentally friendly than regular vehicles. They’ve long been a favorite of Hollywood stars, but as hybrid theory is put into practice, their appeal is broadening to include all parts of the market.
How do hybrids work?
Hybrid technology is among the most advanced to be found in any motor vehicles. A gasoline-electric hybrid is, as the name suggests, a cross between a normal petrol-fueled car and an electric car. The gasoline engine in a hybrid car is much the same as a normal car engine, though a little smaller and using the most modern technology to reduce emissions and increase fuel efficiency. In addition, however, a hybrid car has an advanced electric motor that can power the car in situations where the gasoline engine is not required, such as when idling in city traffic. The car’s advanced hybrid technology systems will even shut off the gasoline engine when necessary – when you’re at a red light, for example. Further hybrid car information is available here. (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car1.htm)
This engine also acts as a generator when braking, using the energy that would normally be lost as your brakes heat up with the friction of slowing down to recharge the car’s batteries instead. So, unlike older models of electric cars, hybrid cars are every bit as fast and powerful as regular vehicles, and don’t need to be plugged in to recharge!
Why buy a hybrid car?
The benefits of buying hybrid technology can be seen in everything from the quality of the air around you to the weight of your wallet in your pocket! Because hybrid technology uses less fuel than normal motor vehicles, they are good for the environment – emitting fewer harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They help prevent global warming and also contribute to cleaner air for us all to breathe, a particular problem in our towns and cities.
But, the benefits are not just going to accrue to Mother Nature, but also to show up in your monthly outgoings. Hybrid technology allows cars to achieve much greater fuel efficiency than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles – the 2007 Toyota Prius, for example, achieves an average MPG of 60 in the city and 51 on the highway, nearly double many comparable gasoline-powered cars. With the price of gas going up and up, that could translate into major savings at the pumps, and more money for the important things in life!
Are hybrids more expensive than regular cars?
It’s important that you do the sums and make sure you’re getting a good deal on your new hybrid – but if you do, between fuel savings and tax breaks, buying a new hybrid car could be a smart move.
Hybrid cars tend to cost a bit more than comparable gasoline-only cars – typically between $3000 and $6000 more. On the other hand, there are cost savings to be made from cheaper gasoline costs, which with rising oil prices could mean even more in a year or two’s time. Maintenance costs vary, but as more and more people buy a hybrid, theory suggests that the cost of maintenance should come down, as well.
In addition, many countries are now offering handsome tax breaks to persuade consumers to buy hybrid technology. In the USA, the maximum federal tax credit for a hybrid car in 2006 was $3150, and this figure will likely rise in the coming years. (http://www.bankrate.com/brm/itax/tips/20030219a1.asp). Many states also offer their own incentives in the form of supplemental tax credits, exemptions from sales taxes, and even discounted parking.
Oh, and in several states (including, from 1st January 2007, California), if you’re the driver of a hybrid car, information that may be of interest--you can use your vehicle in the carpool lane. For a region-by-region list of benefits for hybrid car owners, click here. (http://www.hybridcars.com/local-incentives/region-by-region.html)
What do I need to know when buying a hybrid car?
The jargon of car buying can sometimes be intimidating, and hybrid cars are no exception. Hybrid theory has its own language, and as ever, when looking for a new car, it’s a good idea to do your research before you go into the dealership.
Why not look at a couple of websites before you start - http://www.hybridcars.com/ is a good place to start, particularly its “Buying Guide,” and its pages specific to the most popular hybrid cars on the market. From there, take a look at the websites of some of the models that interest you – the Honda Accord Hybrid, for example (http://automobiles.honda.com/models/model_overview.asp?
ModelName=Accord+Hybrid) or the top-selling hybrid in the United States, the Toyota Prius. (http://www.toyota.com/prius/)