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Are Hybrid Cars Worth The Investment?

With the increasing costs of gas to fuel the private car and the effects of emissions on the environment, there is a search on by vehicle manufacturers for a cleaner more efficient car.

A range of options are available for the motorist to consider vehicles which are green...

Hybrid vehicles, powered by a combination of petrol, diesel and electric drives are becoming available from major automobile manufacturers.

Hybrid vehicle technology was expensive to begin with, but the cost is dropping as mass production becomes a reality. The obvious benefit of a hybrid car is that you will make fewer trips to refuel.

The electric motors can make up to 100 miles before recharging and the motor automatically cuts off at stops where ordinarily you would be wasting fuel when idling. One unanticipated hazard is that the lack of engine noise as you take off may catch pedestrians unaware, as they are used to the revving of a gas powered engine!

On the safety side, it has been suggested that in an accident the risk of electrocution may deter rescuers - but a greater risk of explosion already exists with conventional fuels. The biggest attraction for a hybrid vehicle is possibly an ethical decision to contribute less to the build up of greenhouse gasses in the environment.

Sit in traffic for a while and see the blue haze that surrounds you, and you quickly realize the immediate effect on the environment of gas driven pollution. Some estimates put the percentage of carbon dioxide emissions from cars at more than 30% of total causes of this pollution.

This does not mean that the hybrid vehicle is without any environmental downsides. The disposal of batteries has been of concern in past years because of the toxicity of the materials in the storage cells.

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Today's NiMH battery, as the primary battery, can be recycled without the risks of pollution from this source and is a sign of the rapid development of this technology towards a serious eco-friendly alternative car.

The cost of the batteries replacement has been another concern but they do last for eight to ten years which is well after most new vehicles have been traded on. Additionally, in that time it is likely that the battery cost will have dropped in real terms and be more efficient.

Servicing and maintenance costs are equivalent to that for conventional cars regarding tires and oil changing, but the extremes of refurbishment over the life of the vehicle will be nothing like gas powered engines.

The downside of a hybrid vehicle is that if you are making regular large trips then you will be using the gas power engine for a greater percentage of this travel and recharging the battery may be difficult without having the time to spend on this.

Essentially then, the true benefit of hybrid vehicles at present is for those on short commutes, particularly where there is a lot of congestion.

Around the city the hybrid vehicle comes into its own for small trucks and courier vehicles stopping and starting often.

With the growing threat of global warming, governments and individual states are examining tax breaks to encourage the development and purchase of hybrid vehicles.

This may assist in the choice of a hybrid with its higher price tag. As an investment a hybrid vehicle may be more about investing in the future of the planet than in your wallet, but in time you will recover the upfront cost through fuel savings. You could also make simple modifications to your current car to enable your car to run on water.

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