Electrical Vs Hybrid Automobiles

By: Mervyn Rees
Copyright (c) 2008 Mervyn Rees

Electrical Automobiles: This technology is still in the growth stage and continues to be considered a viable alternative to fossil fuel consumption. Let's face it, if your auto runs on electricity exclusively, then you are not emitting any gases at all. Environmentally speaking, this is terrific.

But wait a minute - how do electric automobiles get their power? From batteries which must be continually recharged. And how do you recharge them - by plugging the vehicle into a power outlet. And how is the electricity in the outlet being produced? In Power plants running on ... you guessed it - petroleum, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric (water), or nuclear energy.

This being the case, are you really helping the environment when you plug in your electric car? Are you really cutting back on non-renewable fuel consumption; hardly. Until the product is self-sufficient or its energy source is clean, buying an electric automobile is like putting a band-aid on a knife wound - it doesn't really help much at all.

Ah - but the Hybrids, the hybrid automobiles are the answer - well maybe.

A hybrid automobile uses gasoline to run on while charging a large system of batteries. At various operating times (depends upon the vehicle) the batteries take over and the gasoline engine shuts off.

Now on the one hand, this is great for increasing fuel efficiency and mileage; but on the other hand, we are still using a non-renewable fuel source. See the next section for a complete analysis of hybrids.

Hybrid Automobiles - Are they really worth it?

Due to the ever increasing gasoline prices, Hybrid autos are becoming more and more popular. But you need to consider why you are considering purchasing one because your reasoning may not be correct. There are two schools of thought for wanting to purchase a Hybrid car - fuel economy or environmental concerns.

If you think you will reap in a huge cost savings through improved fuel economy - think again. Look at this example:

Land Rover Discovery - average fuel mileage: 18 mpg on 22 gallon tank

Honda Accord Hybrid - average fuel mileage: 35 mpg on 17 gallon tank

Honda Civic Hybrid - average fuel mileage: 48 mpg on 13 gallon tank

At 1200 miles per month, $3.00 per gallon gasoline, the cost analysis:

Land Rover Discovery - 3.3 tank fill-ups = $198.00 per month

Honda Accord Hybrid - 2.5 tank fill-ups = $113.00 per month

Honda Civic Hybrid - 2.5 tank fill-ups = $82.50 per month

As you can see, the one factor no one accounts for is gas tank capacity; the two Honda hybrids cost is only $30.00 apart because the Accord holds more gas than the Civic. Also, there isn't a massive cost reduction between the less fuel efficient Discovery and the Civic; roughly $117.00 per month or about $1404.00 per year. You would quickly absorb the monthly savings via your off budget expenditures.

Besides, if you can afford to purchase a Land Rover Discovery, do you really care about a $117.00 a month savings coupled with the massive loss of interior space? Probably not, however let's take another tack in reasoning the purchase of a Hybrid vehicle - the environment.

If you intention is to help the environment, then "yes", by all means purchase a Hybrid vehicle. Not only will you save some money each month, you will be doing your part to help our planet by slowing down Global Warming. However, you won't be reducing the dependence on fossil fuels, a non-renewable source.

The entire Honda vehicle line is composed of the most emission friendly vehicles being manufactured, and are classified as LEV (Low-emissions vehicle). This designation means the car is considered to be 70% "cleaner" than the California 1999 basic new car emissions standard. The Hybrids are given the UL EV or Ultra Low Emission Vehicle rating and are 85% "cleaner". Of course, when the electric engine is used, there are no emissions, period.

The real purpose of the Hybrid is fuel efficiency and lower emissions - not how much money you save at the pump.

The annual cost savings on gas purchases is just icing on the cake.

On the other hand we have to start somewhere, so as demand for such vehicles increases, they become more cost effective to produce. Then hopefully improve technically, competition pushes development then we will really start to see meaningful benefits.

Tips (any area we cover a lot is geared towards global warming and energy saving or safety.

Tips on fuel economy:

1. Lose the "lead foot" - having a heavy foot or excessive throttle is usually attributed to 67% of the loss in fuel mileage.

2. Check the air pressure in your tires once a week.

3. Fill up in the early morning - gasoline is denser when cool.

4. Clean the exterior of your vehicle - it reduces air drag.

5. Do not travel more than a few miles for the best price on gasoline - the savings is eaten up by your wasted time and fuel.

6. Once you have cooled down the vehicle, turn off the air conditioning.

7. Make sure you keep up your automobile's scheduled maintenance's; any lapses could rob you of fuel efficiency and safety.
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