The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Cars

March 6, 2013

The pros and cons of hybrid cars go beyond better gas mileage vs. more expensive batteries. Get a full picture of their benefits and drawbacks.

Hybrid Car On Freeway

With their growing popularity, many people have questions about the pros and cons of hybrid cars. It is well known hybrid cars have great gas mileage, but less familiar is the ever-improving performance. Not only are hybrid vehicles more efficient, producing lower emissions than gas powered automobiles, but their performance is continuing to improve thanks to advances in technology. Hybrids were once accused of being gutless when compared to an average gas powered engine, but that is a thing of the past. They come with many of the same features that their traditional counterparts do, offering high performance steering and superb quality brakes.

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Hybrid Car Advantages

  • Clean energy. An electric motor together with a gas powered engine make a vehicle that has lower emissions and better gas mileage. It conserves energy while having the power of a standard engine.
  • Performance improvements. New technologies allow hybrids the same kind of performance as normal cars, and they are continuing to develop, improving efficiency, getting better mileage, and reducing emissions even further.
  • Incentives. Varying from state to state and federally, hybrids may come with a tax benefit and savings in the form of much less money spent on fuel.
  • Regenerative braking. Each time you brake, the battery is recharged a little, eliminating the need for stopping to recharge the battery periodically.
  • Lower fossil fuel dependence. Because hybrids are much cleaner and require less fossil fuel to run them, they ultimately help to reduce the dependence on foreign oil and do their part to lower prices domestically.
  • Lighter weight. Because hybrids are constructed using lighter materials, the car does not have to expend as much energy to do the same task.
  • A smaller engine. Again, a smaller engine means a lighter one, and because there is less cylinder displacement, the engine does not have to work as hard, and a hybrid uses far less fuel in the process.
  • Higher resale values. As more and more people are turning to hybrid vehicles to help save money on annual fuel bills and protect the environment, used hybrid vehicles are commanding higher than average resale values. Many popular fuel-efficient vehicles such as cars made by Honda and Toyota have always enjoyed high resale values, and the hybrid versions of vehicles made by these manufacturers are demanding even higher selling prices. So, in the event you need to sell a hybrid vehicle, it is safe to assume that you will be able to recoup much more of your investment than you would with a standard gasoline engine powered vehicle.
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Hybrid Car Disadvantages

Depending on how you drive, a hybrid car might not be the right choice for you, because they tend to perform quite a bit differently than the vehicles most of us are used to.

  • Lower power output. These vehicles are built for economy, not for speed. The gasoline engine (which is the car's primary source of power) is much smaller than in comparable vehicles. If you need more acceleration than the conventional engine can provide, the electric motor assists in getting the car going. However, even with extra help, the total power output of the hybrid platform is often less than that of a comparable gas powered car.
  • Poorer handling. Hybrids as a rule don't handle as well as conventionally-powered vehicles. The reason for this is centered around the issue of weight. Extra weight results in a loss of fuel efficiency, so manufacturers tend to cut weight wherever possible. Hybrids generally have less bracing and support in the suspension and body, and they use lighter-duty components than in cars that are more performance-focused.
  • Higher center of gravity. A car's center of gravity and weight distribution has a huge effect on how it drives. Vehicle manufacturers do their best to distribute the weight as well as they can, but it's just not possible to mitigate this factor completely. Hybrids are usually front-wheel drive, and the easiest and safest place for the batteries tend to be in the rear of the car. This distributes weight away from the drive wheels which tends to have a negative effect on performance.
  • Sticker shock. The price difference of hybrid cars versus standard vehicles is considerable. In many cases, the hybrid electric version of a vehicle may cost between $5000 and $10,000 more than the standard version. Many consumers will simply not be able to afford the price difference in the two types of vehicles regardless of how much money may or may not be saved with the better fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles.
  • Higher maintenance costs. Hybrid vehicles also cost more to repair because of the complexity of the dual compulsion system used in most hybrid vehicles. Not all mechanics are trained or equipped to work on hybrid vehicles and repair bills will be larger than with standard ICE vehicles. Also, because of the increased weight of hybrid vehicles, you can expect to replace tires and brakes more frequently as well.
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