The Advantages of Hybrid Cars

By: Thomas Jones

Gas prices this year will drive a lot of us - no, not to drink! - to research how we can make things more affordable, either the car or the gas, so we can decrease our busting gas budget and bring it back to normal. Hybrid cars have found their greatest hour of fame because of the 2008 gas prices and the increase cost in just filling up your gas tank for the week. Driving down the freeway today, folks no longer stare as the hybrid that goes by - there are lots of them. Eight years ago a friend bought a Honda Insight, when it was the thing. Hybrid cars were not well known at the time and friends and strangers stopped to pick his brains as he filled up. Now most of the big manufacturers have put out a hybrid car or two. Usually there is a coupe, very pared down with two seats, and another model, family style. Hybrids are not known for having a lot of room inside, so they are most popular for city driving, where you can un-cramp fast. It's a pity, because where they really shine is on the long stretches.

Recent reports on these cars shows that they do save on gas. Mileages range from 24 mpg on the larger models to - believe it or not! - 64 miles. This larger number is for standard transmissions rather than automatic. But for savings like that, heck, who minds shifting?? Think of it - you could drive from San Francisco to Sacramento on a gallon. At today's predicted top prices, that would come to about $3.60! One caveat, though, almost all of the hybrids get incredibly better mileage in the country, where they speed along with no complicated stops. Hybrid cars cost more, often a lot more, but good old Uncle Sam will pay in the neighborhood of $1500 if we are good citizens and purchase a hybrid car, so the sticker price is not that much of a shock.

Good mileage like that mentioned doesn't come without a price, however. Hybrid cars run on very little fossil fuel, partly because as they go down the road, the huge batteries that are under the hood (or in the trunk) are charging. You don't have to plug them in, and the charge they get as you drive is free. Big problem, though is the day the batteries need to be replaced. That's right, batteries don't go on forever, no matter what the Energizer Bunny tells you. Replacement is expensive. Does the cost eat up most of the savings you made at the gas pump? It's hard to get a concrete answer to this. A lot depends on the quality of the battery that is originally in your new hybrid car, but it pays to ask that question when you go to the dealer showroom

Want to hear another advantage in being a hybrid car owner?? Hybrids are "green." How's that for snob appeal, these global warming days?

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