Hybrid power has infiltrated almost every class of vehicle, from luxury sedans to minivans. Everyone knows that hybrids offer superior fuel efficiency, but that's only part of the story. If you're still wondering if a gas-electric hybrid is right for you, take a look at everything hybrids can (and can't) offer their owners:
- Cleaner energy. Because hybrids run on a combination of gas and electricity, they emit less pollution than gas-only vehicles.
- Incentives. While government incentives on regular hybrids have expired, those with plug-in technology still come with federal tax credits. Some states offer sizable rebates as well.
- Regenerative braking. Much of the energy produced during braking is captured and fed to the battery. This action increases the charge available to the electric motor, which results in less fuel consumption. It can also extend the life of your brakes.
- Reduced fuel dependence. With their superb efficiency, hybrids help reduce the nation's dependence on oil and keep the price of gasoline in check.
- Weight savings. Many hybrids are constructed using lightweight materials, so they don't consume as much energy as their full-weight counterparts.
- Smaller engines. Because they don't have to power the car alone, the gasoline engines used in hybrid cars are usually small, light, and highly efficient.
- Higher resale value. Hybrid versions of popular vehicles remain in high demand on the used car market. With a hybrid, you will likely recoup a higher percentage of your original investment when you trade or sell.
- Performance. Most hybrids are built for economy, not speed. Total output and acceleration lag behind comparable gas-only vehicles. To conserve weight, hybrids usually aren't equipped with sport-tuned suspensions and other performance enhancements found on non-hybrid models. The location of the battery pack often results in less-than-ideal weight distribution, which can affect handling.
- Price. Although the gap is narrowing, hybrids remain more expensive, sometimes by a significant margin. Many buyers find this trade-off to be unacceptable.
- Maintenance: Hybrid vehicles generally cost more to repair, and not all mechanics have the equipment and know-how to fix them properly.