Hybrid Electric Vehicles Pros and Cons
According to the architects, hybrid cars are the best creation since sliced bread. There are various reasons to
buy one, for instance, tax incentives for US buyers. However, it’s important to understand how hybrid cars work,
their benefits, shortcomings, and myths.
What is a hybrid car?
It’s just like a normal car but with two motors - gasoline and electric powered motors. The duo setup of a
hybrid car leverages both gasoline and electric power. The car also has a unique system that traps braking energy
and stores it in an onboard battery.
Why choose a hybrid car?
This isn’t a simple question and, according to many experts, it has never been fully answered. It would seem
like two motors is a complex system, and it also raises the issue of maintenance. But the reason for two motors
lies in the benefits and limitations of either system. Precisely, electric motors do not use any energy while
idling - they switch off - and at low speeds expend less than gas motors.
At high speeds, gas motors do better and can generate more power, depending on motor weight. This makes the
electric car the real-deal for rush hour stop and go driving and, as a bonus, there’s no exhaust produced thus
reducing on carbon emission. However, at high speeds - typically above 40mph - only the gas motor will give you
that vivacious feel many car owners crave while driving on a highway.
A gas motor charges its battery when it's running, and this is a great benefit. Many electric car owners get
stranded just a few metres from an outlet. With a hybrid car, this annoyance becomes a thing of the past; when the
electric battery is low, the gas motor automatically kicks in and goes ahead to charge the battery - there’s never
a need to plug a hybrid into an outlet. Needless to say, you can carry a gas can if you forget to fill your tank,
while for a straight electric car, you would need a tow car.
Hybrids are very fuel efficient, with many manufacturers claiming that you can get 48 to 60 mpg on a typical
All its benefits and technology come at a price: a hybrid car is complex and pricey. The two motors come with
all the ancillary support systems, not to mention the heavy battery and renewal system used to generate power when
the car brakes.
Moreover, all these systems have to work in unison, compounding the complexity. While hybrid cars and, notably,
the computers that run them have become more dependable, they still experience failures. Thus, owners should expect
more time in the garage and huge maintenance bills.
Compared with a fuel efficient gasoline car, a hybrid is only about 20 to 30 percent better at saving gas. But a
price comparison of the two makes justification for buying a hybrid less clear, i.e. expect to part with $19000 to
$25000 for a hybrid, while a fuel efficient gasoline car costs $14000 to $17000. The small difference between
average annual fuel bills for a hybrid and a gas saver car means that it may take years to recoup the extra initial
cost you paid for a hybrid.
In the end, many experts are convinced that hybrids are not the cars for the future. Rather, they are probably
part of the evolution.