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Some Interesting Facts About Hybrid Cars

Toyota PriusHybrid car technology is still a relatively new thing, and there is a lot of confusion surrounding hybrid cars.  If you’re considering trying a hybrid, read on to learn about some of the myths and misconceptions, as well as what it’s really like to own a hybrid car.

Hybrid Cars and The Environment

Hybrid cars use less fuel than fuel cars.  The Toyota Prius gets 60 mpg on city roads, and 51mpg on motorways.  Toyota advertises that their Prius can travel up to 600 miles on a full tank. You would have to practice every known hyper-miling technique, and be driving in ideal conditions, to actually achieve such an amazing distance on one fuel tank; however 400+ miles should be easy even in cold weather and less than ideal road conditions.

Unlike all-electric cars, hybrids use regenerative charging.  When you apply the brakes on your car, the engine transfers a portion of its power back into the battery, recharging the battery.  This means that you don’t have to worry about finding a charging station to “plug in” your car.  All you have to do is drive, and the car will look after itself.

Driving Hybrid Cars

Early hybrids lacked power, but newer generations can perform just as well as traditional fuel powered cars.  The Lexus GS 450H performs well in 0 to 60 road tests, and boasts more than 300 horsepower, as well as being incredibly fuel-efficient.

Hybrid cars are also incredibly quiet and comfortable to drive.  When you’re on the motorways, the car handles just like a fuel powered car.  When you’re stuck in traffic in town, the engine will shut down and the car will run on batteries.  The transition between fuel and battery is seamless, and it’s not something you need to concern yourself about while driving.

Hybrid Cars – The Total Cost

Buying a hybrid car will cost you 15-25% more than buying a brand new car, however over the lifetime of owning the car you will recoup that cost several times over.    If you drive in or around London regularly, then you will be able to take advantage of the “Greener Vehicle Discount”, which could save you as much as £2000 in congestion charge fees over the course of a year.

In addition, you will save 15 – 20% on fuel costs compared to a normal car.  If you do a lot of driving, especially on city roads, then that saving will add up quickly.

One downside of hybrid vehicles is that the powertrain is far more complex.  This means that if it breaks down it will cost more to repair and parts may be more expensive.  However, this is something that you can expect to change as hybrids become more common.

The Future of Hybrids

There are several variations of hybrids fighting for control of the market at the moment – including petrol, diesel, flex-fuel (which uses an ethanol mixture instead of traditional fuel), and plug-in hybrids. Over the next few years, we can expect to see the technology become more streamlined, and we will also see improvements in thermal efficiency (improving their performance on cold days) and ease of maintenance.

Eventually, all-electric cars may become capable of good enough mileages that they will replace hybrids as the dominant choice for green drivers.  All-electric cars have simpler drive trains and fewer parts that could break down.  However, electric vehicles have a long way to go before they catch up to the efficiency of hybrids, so we can expect to see hybrids on our roads for many years to come.

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