Facts About Hybrid Cars

Facts About Hybrid Cars
  • Opening Intro -

    The market for hybrid vehicles has certainly changed and matured since the first vehicles were sold stateside beginning in the late 1990s.

    Back then, the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight were the sole models available, vehicles offering outsized fuel economy and good value.

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When evaluating the purchase of a hybrid vehicle, there are several things you should keep in mind. Knowing what you’re buying will help prepare you for hybrid ownership and enjoy the benefits of these kinds of vehicles.

Drivetrain

Hybrid vehicles use two energy sources to power the wheels that move the car. A conventional gasoline engine is standard and is usually paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. In the case of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, you get a 6-speed automatic transmission.

One or more electric motors are also included. Energy from the battery pack or from the braking system helps to keep these motors going. With plug-in hybrids, an outside source of electricity also provides energy.

Battery Systems

Connecting to the electric motors, the hybrid’s battery system stores energy that is needed to operate the hybrid in times of electric-only driving. Older systems use nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries while some new systems use lithium-ion (Li-ion) or lithium polymer (Li-Poly) batteries. The latter two are lighter and more efficient and are found in cars like the Sonata Hybrid. The Toyota Camry Hybrid still uses NiMH batteries.

Performance

Hybrid systems vary from manufacturer to manufacturer as well as from vehicle to vehicle. Models such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid can run on electric-only power at speeds up to 47 mpg. Others, such as the PHEV Toyota Prius, can operate for about 15 miles on electric-only power.

Hybrid models offer excellent torque and often outperform comparable gas-powered models in speed tests. Most hybrids can top 100 mph, giving drivers a car that not only saves fuel, but has the performance to back it up.

Warranty Plans

All hybrid models are covered by the same new vehicle, powertrain and rust perforation warranties offered by manufacturers for their other vehicles. Most also come with roadside assistance and the availability of purchasable extended service plans.

The battery pack has its own warranty, offering replacement coverage for 8 years or 100,000 miles by law. In some states, such as California and New York, that warranty is for 10 years or 150,000 miles. Battery packs have been known to last much longer including a fleet of hybrid taxi cabs in San Francisco that were recently retired after topping 300,000 miles on the initial battery pack.

Final Thoughts

Hybrid models make more sense when gas prices are high rather than when prices are low. Such vehicles also emit fewer pollutants and some models come with tax breaks. Some hybrids hold their value better than comparable gas powered cars, although the starting price for hybrids is higher. Hybrid manufacturers prefer to include energy efficient parts including seats derived from recycled bottles and other repurposed materials.

See AlsoHow to Finance Your Hybrid Car in 4 Steps

 
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About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".