Clearing Up Some Hybrid Misconceptions

March 2, 2012

Many people are not sure what the difference is between a hybrid car and an electric car. The confusion is understandable, since both types use electricity to propel the vehicle. A hybrid vehicle, however, uses a small conventional engine plus an electric engine. An electric car has only an electric engine and needs to be charged through an electrical outlet. There are also other kinds of ‘green’ cars as well. There are solar and natural gas powered vehicles, although they have not become as widespread as hybrid vehicles. Currently the most popular hybrid cars are the Honda Civic, Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius.

If you have been thinking of buying a hybrid vehicle, here are some points that you might want to check into and not believe everything you’ve heard about this kind of vehicle.

1. Hybrid batteries will freeze easier at low temperatures.

Actually, the opposite is true. The nickel-hydride batteries in most hybrid cars are more resistant to cold and work better than the average car battery at low temperatures.

2. When driving a hybrid car in reverse, the gas engine does not work.

When moving in reverse, the electric motor is what is doing the work.

3. Hybrid cars get astronomically high gas mileage.

Although hybrid cars do get better gas mileage than autos with conventional engines, it depends on how you drive, too. Hybrids get better mileage when driving short distances, around town for instance. Mileage drops when you hit the freeway. Most hybrids boast around 40 miles per gallon but your mileage will probably be somewhere below that since we all don’t drive under controlled situations, like the EPA does.

4. Hybrid car batteries don’t last very long and have to be replaced.

Hybrid batteries do eventually have to be replaced, just as a conventional battery does. The majority of hybrid cars come with an 8-year warranty, or 100,000 miles from the manufacturer. Hybrid cars in California are required to cover 10 years or 150,000. Driving an average of 10,000 miles a year, that’s doing to be 10 years. Most people don’t keep their car that long.

5. Hybrids have to be plugged in and charged overnight.

As mentioned earlier, only fully electric cars need to be charged. The battery of a hybrid is charged by the action of the brakes. It’s known as regenerative braking. Each time the brake peddle is pressed it charges the car’s nickel-hydride battery.

6. Hybrids are ‘gutless’ and have no horsepower.

While this may have been the case in earlier models, technology has greatly improved performance in hybrid cars. Horsepower runs from 440 to 98 horsepower. While they may not win any speed races, when you want to merge onto the highway or pass a truck, the power will be there when you want it, even with ‘only’ 98-horsepower.


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