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Does it Make Sense to Get a Hybrid?

Sep 3, 2008
Hybrid vehicle gives us the flexibility to choose different fuel options to propel our vehicle. We can employ a combination of different energy sources, such as- a rechargeable battery source and an internal combustion engine, or an air powered engine and gasoline/diesel based engines. The concept is being widely embraced, as it apparently helps in increasing mileage by substantially controlling the fuel consumption. It also provides you a backup, when the main fuel runs out. However, there are several pros and cons of the concept, and herein you will find a thorough analysis that will help you in deciding about getting a hybrid vehicle.

The cost advantage

Hybrid engines will help you in countering the soaring gas prices, in present scenario. You can always switch to a more cost-effective option while driving. For instance, if you have both the gasoline, and battery option available, you can always opt for the rechargeable battery whenever required; however, frequent switching must be avoided, as it may hamper your engine's performance significantly. It is found to be good proposition for several luxury cars, as it can remarkably save up to 30% on fuel. With fuel prices increasing at appreciable rate, going for a hybrid does makes sense if you need to commute long distances.

The positive environmental effect

In addition to all these monetary benefits of hybrid engines, these are also found to be eco-friendly. These engines provide higher fuel economies with reduced transmissions. This is primarily due to its ability of utilizing the energy wasted during accelerating and braking, or other mechanisms. These have high battery storage capacity, which helps in recapturing and reusing the energy. These hybrid engines further improve the mileage by improving the "aerodynamics" of the vehicle. Apparently, these engines exude tremendous potential in fighting against Global Warming, by significantly cutting the CO2 emissions to a great extent. Furthermore, these engines also reduce the noise emissions remarkably, especially at lower speeds. However, all these features are operative in city traffic situations, as the idling and stopping time is more in city traffic, and the benefits of fuel mileage depends upon the reutilization of energy wasted during different processes.

Some points to ponder

However, there is a long debate over the environmental viability of the hybrid engines. On the one hand, it apparently helps in checking the emission levels, whereas on the other hand, number scientists have purported that the battery used in these cars contains- Nickel metal hydride and Lithium ion, which are extremely harmful for human body. Although, these substances are said to be less toxic than the conventional car batteries, these substances can create severe health issues to people. Nickel based substances are potential carcinogens, and can cause a variety of ailments, including, micropthalmia, hemorrhage, etc. Scientists are pooling their best efforts to help us reaping the fruits of hybrid engine, without compromising with our environment.

Taking all these points into account, we reckon that the hybrid technology has more advantages than shortcomings. A one time investment will help you saving a lot over fuel expenses. However, the concept is yet to find application in SUVs and heavy duty vehicle, and the market is still skeptic about employing the concept in heavy vehicles.
About the Author
Article by Richard Crittendon on behalf of Automobile.com - for more great information on cars & driving, see these recent pieces on the 2008 Ford Focus review and another review on the 2007 Ford Fusion
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