What Makes it a “Hybrid”?
Any vehicle is a hybrid when it combines two or more sources of power. The gasoline-electric hybrid car is a cross between a gasoline-powered car and an electric car. These cars have been built to reduce tailpipe emissions and to improve mileage.
Why Should You Use Hybrids?
With gas prices growing every day, everyone is looking for a way to save money on driving expenses. Hybrid cars have a much better fuel efficiency, and are able to get many more miles to the gallon than regular fuel-burning cars. While the initial cost of the car is higher, the money saved on gas puts money back in your pocket in no time. However, potential owners should consider that maintenance costs on hybrid cars (e.g., battery replacement) may be more costly that standard combustion engine cars.
Hybrid cars are more environmentally-friendly than regular cars which emit greater amounts of CO2 and other noxious gases into the air contributing to global warming and pollution. Because CO2 emissions from cars are not regulated, there are no devices for removing CO2 from the exhaust, so a car that burns twice as much gas adds twice as much CO2 to the atmosphere.
How Do Hybrids Work?
A hybrid car does not need to rely on the gasoline engine all of the time because it has an alternate power source – the electric motor and batteries. So the hybrid car can sometimes turn off the gasoline engine, for example, when the vehicle is stopped at a red light.
What’s Available Now?
There are several hybrid cars now available in the United States – the Honda Civic Hybrid, the Honda Insight, the Honda Accord, the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Highlander, and the Ford Escape. However, due to limited options, the initial cost to purchase a hybrid is greater than the cost for regular fuel-burning cars.
Over the past four years, more than 100,000 hybrids have been sold in the United States. Even though that’s not a huge percentage of the more than 17 million new cars and trucks that are sold in the U.S. each year, it’s enough of an incentive to start producing more hybrids.
As consumers, we should push manufacturers to provide more options with hybrid technology. As demand increases, the initial and maintenance costs of hybrids will rival that of regular fuel-burning cars. Furthermore, we should encourage the development of hybrid battery disposal programs, as the battery from hybrid cars contains hazardous waste.