Do you want better mileage from your car, or want to go green and reduce your carbon footprint? Buying a hybrid car may be the key to your problems.
Hybrid cars, also known as hybrid vehicles, use two or more distinct power sources to power the vehicle. They typically use an electric source in combination with a gasoline engine.
Types of Hybrid Cars
There are several types of hybrid cars. A series hybrid is one which uses the electric motor for all its driving needs. The only function of the gas motor is to charge the electric motor and provide power on longer trips.
Then there are parallel hybrids like the Honda Insight, Civic, and Accord hybrids. In these cars, both the electric and gasoline motor function together. Gasoline powers the engine while the electric motor charges the battery. They generally give better mileage than series hybrids.
You will also find mild hybrids on the market. Mild hybrids use their electric motors only when extra power is required. The latest in technology in the industry are plug-in hybrids. These can be plugged into an electrical outlet to be charged and can then travel on that charge. They do not need the gasoline engine to charge the electric motor.
The Pros and Cons of Buying a Hybrid
Buying a hybrid will allow you to utilize the strengths of both the electric motor and the gasoline motor while avoiding their weaknesses. Electric motors turn off and use no energy in idle mode. They also give better mileage than gas motors at low speeds, and provide instantaneous torque. Gasoline motors, on the other hand, are more suitable when driving on a high speed such as on a highway. This is true because gasoline motors have the capability to deliver more power per motor weight.
A hybrid car will also let you save 30-70% of your fuel cost compared to its gasoline counterpart. The range is wide because it varies from model to model as well as your driving style and route. You can expect to save more if most of your commute is intra-city and involves traffic jams.
Moreover, hybrid owners do not have to suffer from ‘range’ anxiety, unlike owners of all-electric cars. If an electric car runs out of charge before reaching a charging station, it has to be towed. Hybrid cars, on the other hand, just switch to gasoline when their electric charge runs out. They are also cheaper than the electric cars currently on the market.
Hybrids produce lower carbon emissions than their gasoline counterparts. According to studies, hybrids just produce 10% of smog-forming pollutants, and 50% of the carbon dioxide emission of a traditional gasoline car.
If you need any more motivation, the US government has given tax credits upto $7,500 on the purchase of plug in hybrid cars. However it is only applicable on the first 200,000 vehicles produced by each manufacturer so you need to hurry if you want to avail the discount.
However, going green and saving on your fuel bill comes at a cost. Hybrid cars are almost always more expensive than their gasoline counterparts, usually with a difference of $3,000 or more. Moreover, since hybrids use two motors and are more complex under the hood, customers should expect a higher number for repairs as well as higher repair bills.
Before You Buy a Hybrid…
Before you start poring over a list of hybrids, you should figure out the best hybrid car type for you. You should keep in mind the kind of daily commute you face and the type of hybrid that will suit it the most. Then you should make a note of the kind of premium you are willing to pay for the hybrid over its gasoline substitute.
If the purpose of buying a hybrid is to solely save fuel cost, you should do some rough calculations to determine the amount of savings that result would result from you buying a hybrid. You should compare those savings with the premium you are paying for the hybrid model and figure out if it is worth it. If you plan to sell the vehicle quickly, chances are that you would not be able to recoup the premium.
Here is a list of the top ten selling hybrid cars, courtesy HybridCars.com, to get you started with your search for the best hybrid cars.