Reasons to Consider a Hybrid
Over the last century of automobile research and development, there have been consistent increases in power, reliability, and fuel economy. In the beginning, there were only conventional vehicles, perhaps a choice between gasoline or diesel fuel. Today, with the introduction of hybrid cars, electric cars, and even fuel cell cars, your automotive choices have become that much more complicated.
Whether you're in the market for a new car or just exploring options, here are five reasons you should consider a hybrid car for your next vehicle.
- Fuel Savings – Take, for example, the most popular hybrid car in America, the Toyota Prius, and compare it with its sister vehicle, the Toyota Corolla. While they are both powered by a small 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine, the Prius' engine is aided by an electric motor and battery pack, which makes all the difference when it comes to fuel economy and refueling costs. For the average American, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that the Prius fuel costs run about $750 a year, while the Corolla's annual fuel bill hits approximate $1,200 – 38 percent more. Keep in mind, however, that the hybrid's purchase price is higher. You'll need to work out how long it would take for the fuel savings to offset the additional cost and also consider each vehicle's expected re-sale value.
- Environmental Impact – Directly related to fuel economy are carbon dioxide emissions, which have been identified as a major contributor to climate change. The EPA calculates that about a third of emissions come from the transportation sector. Drivers wishing to reduce their carbon footprint do well to consider hybrid cars because they generate less carbon dioxide. Going back to the Toyota Prius versus Toyota Corolla comparison, the EPA estimates that the Prius generates, on average, 38 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the Corolla. Will you save the planet by driving a hybrid car? No, but it's a good step in reducing your own impact.
- Lower Maintenance Costs – In spite of including some expensive components, such as the electric motors and hybrid battery pack, hybrid vehicles actually cost less to maintain and repair. According to CarMD, while conventional vehicle repairs increased by about 7 percent in the last year, the incidence of hybrid car repairs actually decreased over the previous year. Even major repairs, such as addressing a fault in the inverter assembly, have come down considerably, from over $7,000 in 2010 to under $3,000 in 2013.
- Ease of Adoption – Unlike alternative fuel vehicles like battery electric cars or fuel cell cars, hybrid vehicles don't require you to change your habits to improve your fuel economy. They refuel at regular gas stations, just like conventional cars, and you drive them the same way. Most have automatic transmissions, but there is one hybrid car on the market with a six-speed manual transmission. Electric cars and fuel cell cars require the installation of home charging stations or a nearby commercial charging station or hydrogen fuel station, which are still in short supply. Hybrid vehicles are currently the most-convenient way to reduce your personal transportation emissions.
- Perks – Everyone likes to be rewarded for making smart choices, and hybrid car owners are no different. Some states offer free access to the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes on the highway, which can considerably reduce your commute time and stress level. Hybrid vehicles are also exceptionally quiet and smooth, which also produces a calmer driving experience. Some municipalities even offer free parking passes to hybrid car drivers. Additionally, tax incentives, which may be offered at city, state, or federal levels, can put some money back in your pocket when it comes time to file your tax return.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons to consider a hybrid car for your next vehicle, and they certainly aren't limited to just these five. While they used to be considered quirky economy cars, today's hybrid cars are just as varied and stylish as their conventional counterparts, and most automakers offer at least one hybrid vehicle in their lineup. Can you make room in your garage or parking space for a fuel-efficient hybrid?Image compliments of MotorBlog and used under CC license