Cell phone technology changes almost daily and the auto industry is involved in a huge change as well; to Hybrid power. Many of these cars are now going into the preowned world. Just what do you need to know? Here are common misconceptions.
1. You need to plug in a hybrid car.
As soon as the word "electricity" is spoken, you think of plugs, cords, and wall sockets. But today's hybrid cars don't need to be plugged in. Hybrids use regenerative braking to charge batterys. Energy usually lost when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping is reclaimed and routed to the hybrid's rechargeable batteries. The gas engine is also used to transfer energy to the batteries. The process is automatic, so no special requirements are placed on the driver.
But don’t be confused many automakers are now introducing pure electric cars. The ability to plug a hybrid into the electric grid overnight to charge a larger set of batteries would mean that most city driving could be done without burning a single drop of gasoline.
2. Hybrid batteries need to be replaced.
The standard warranty on hybrid batteries and other components is between 80,000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer and your location. But that doesn't mean the batteries will die at 100,000 miles. The U.S. Department of Energy stopped its tests of hybrid battery packs—when the capacity remained almost like new—after 160,000 miles. And since it’s not the only source of power if it fails the car will still operate.
3. People buy hybrids only to save money on gas.
Hybrid cars top the list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Going farther on a gallon of gas—and thus reducing a car owner's tab at the pump—is a logical advantage of a hybrid car. But car shoppers seldom buy based purely on a logical economic equation. Besides, as critics of hybrid technology frequently point out, those savings seldom add up to the extra cost of buying a hybrid over a comparable conventional vehicle.
So, if it's not to save money, why are more and more shoppers going hybrid? Many reasons: To minimize their impact on the environment, to help reduce the world's addiction to oil, and to earn technology bragging rights.
4. Hybrids are expensive.
Hybrids are currently available in 25 different models ranging in price from $22,000 to $103,000. The most efficient models—the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius—are available well below $30,000. By the middle of this decade, more than 50 models are expected. By that point, hybrids will represent the full range of sizes, shapes, and costs.
Rechargeable batteries, electric motors, and sophisticated computer controls do add to the cost of producing a hybrid car. However, as production numbers increase, economies of scale are expected to reduce those costs. Toyota plans to offer hybrid versions of all its most popular models and thus cut in half the incremental cost of hybrids.
5. Hybrids are small and underpowered.
Currently there are production hybrid sedans that can exceed 300 horsepower and will go from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. These vehicles prove that adding an electric motor and batteries to the drivetrain does not intrinsically mean diminished performance.
6. Hybrids pose a threat to first responders.
First responders are trained to the potential dangers of Hybrid technology. And considerable safety features are already built into hybrid cars.
7. Hybrids will solve all our transportation, energy, and environmental problems.
The hybrid car market is ramping up. Hybrid sales in the US grew exponentially, from 9,500 in 2000 to 350,000 in 2007.
The numbers are encouraging but must be viewed in the context of the overall car market. The 350,000 hybrid car sales in 2007 represent only 2.5 percent of the 17 million new cars sold last year. If every new hybrid driver doubled fuel economy from 20 mpg to 40 mpg for 40 miles of daily driving—an optimistic estimate—then a gallon per hybrid car would be saved every day. That's a whopping 350,000 gallons per day saved by hybrid car drivers. But we've only reduced our daily US consumption from 400 million gallons to 399,650,000 gallons. Hybrid cars can only be viewed as a partial solution.
8. Hybrid technology is only a fad.
Hybrid technology is often pitted against fuel cells, diesel engines, pure electric cars and/or hydrogen as the silver bullet approach to sustainable mobility. Sustainable mobility advocates don't see these approaches as an either-or proposition. It's all of the above.
The ability for automotive engineers to combine systems and fuels in a single hybrid vehicle gives great flexibility in finding the greatest efficiencies at the lowest cost.