Hybrid Cars Are The Future Of Automobiles, But They Aren't for Everyone
Updated: Nov 4, 2022
What is a Hybrid Car?
Simply put, a hybrid combines at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to propel the vehicle, and its system recaptures energy through regenerative braking. Sometimes the electric motor does all of the work, sometimes the gas engine, and sometimes both. As a result, less gasoline is consumed, resulting in improved fuel economy. In some cases, adding electric power can even improve performance.
Electricity is supplied by a high-voltage battery pack (separate from the car's conventional 12-volt battery) that is replenished by capturing energy from deceleration that would otherwise be lost due to heat generated by the brakes in conventional cars. (This is accomplished via regenerative braking.) Hybrids also use the gas engine to charge and maintain the battery. Car manufacturers use various hybrid designs to achieve various goals, ranging from maximum fuel savings to keeping vehicle costs as low as possible.
What Makes Hybrid Cars Great?
Hybrid vehicles have been around for decades, but their popularity has grown in recent years. The hybrid vehicles we commonly see now combine the best characteristics of both gas and electric vehicles. They have an internal combustion engine that provides power when needed and batteries that store energy when there isn't enough wind or sunlight to charge the car.
Because they can run on either electricity or fuel, hybrid vehicles are more efficient than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. This means they will be able to save money by using less gas and emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Furthermore, hybrids are quieter and smoother than other types of vehicles.
Hybrid Vehicles Are Amazing, But Are They Right for You?
For the first time, gas prices of $4-$5 per gallon prompted many people to consider purchasing a hybrid vehicle. We have witnessed many people who are considering getting a hybrid car but should not.
People buy hybrid vehicles for two reasons. Most people buy them to save money at the gas pump, while others buy them to reduce emissions. Either reason is valid; however, it is critical for those looking to save money on gas to understand the basics of how gas/electric hybrids work and to ensure that it is the right vehicle for you.
Consider How Fast You Drive And Where You Usually Travel Around
A hybrid is best suited for people who frequently drive in cities at speeds less than 50 miles per hour. That is when most hybrids are battery-powered and use little to no fuel. As a result, according to the EPA fuel-economy ratings, city mileage is generally higher than highway mileage, which is the opposite of the majority of vehicles on the road.
When you exceed 40-50 miles per hour in a hybrid car, the gas engine takes over and the batteries are turned off. This is why, whenever someone inquires about a hybrid, we always ask if they drive mostly in the city or on the highway.
Hybrid Cars Can Have High Upfront Cost
When considering a hybrid, you must also consider the financial implications of the decision. Let's take the new Toyota Camry as an example, which is simply because it comes in both a gas and a hybrid version, unlike some of the others. In terms of miles per gallon, the 4-cylinder gas version is rated at 28 MPG for city and highway driving combined, while the hybrid is rated at 41 MPG combined.
With an average driver driving 15000 miles per year and assuming $3.50 per gallon, the fuel savings is $50 per month, or $600 per year, which is nothing to sneeze at. The catch is that the Camry hybrid is $3905 more expensive. So, just from a financial standpoint, the hybrid would pay for itself in just over 6 and a half years. After that period, you begin to profit from the hybrid.
If the environment is your primary concern, we completely understand, and it is a valid reason to purchase a hybrid. However, we believe that most people who buy hybrids would be better off with a gas engine and a lower upfront cost of a vehicle. For you highway drivers, we recommend a diesel, such as the VW TDI.
There Are Other Cleaner Alternatives To Hybrid Cars
When hybrid cars first appeared in force in the early 2000s, they had almost the entire stage to themselves. Today, there are dozens of EV models on the market, ranging from the futuristic BMW i3 to the Volkswagen e-Golf, which is designed to look identical to any other Golf on the road. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), such as the Toyota Prius Prime and the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, are also available. It is, indeed, an electric minivan. Every automaker has promised to "electrify" its fleet over the next five to ten years, which means more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles.
Any vehicle that runs entirely on electricity, such as an EV or PHEV in which the batteries do all of the work, emits zero emissions. There are no tailpipes on electric vehicles. While hybrids will continue to be available and have proven to be reliable, other, cleaner powertrains that are just as easy to live with are available.
If you do most of your driving in and around town, a hybrid car will suit you because it will benefit the most from running on electric-only power, which is effectively free travel.
If you make frequent short trips and don't require the extra flexibility of a hybrid, you might be better off with an electric car, which provides cheap urban travel while emitting no tailpipe emissions.
If you drive a lot of highway miles, you might be better off with a fuel-efficient diesel vehicle. It is likely to provide better high-speed fuel economy than a hybrid because hybrids are least efficient on highways and fast A-roads.