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Hybrid Car Information – What you need to know

While many drivers are attracted to hybrid vehicles by the fact that the technology is more environmentally friendly, research shows that most hybrid owners joined the revolution because of greater fuel efficiency. And, as gasoline prices continue to fluctuate with no rhyme or reason, an ever-increasing number of consumers are actively looking for more fuel-efficient forms of transportation. The resulting growth in the popularity of hybrid vehicles over the past seven years has been nothing short of amazing.

  

How Hybrids Save You Money

Is maintenance more expensive with a hybrid?
Maintaining a hybrid doesn’t cost any more than a conventional car and may even cost less due to decreased wear and tear on the engine and braking system. You’ll probably want to take your hybrid to a dealer, especially considering that Toyota offers a 100,000 mile warranty on emission components and battery pack, and that Honda offers an 80,000 mile warranty on the same–on top of the traditional 3-year/36,000 mile warranty on the conventional systems. Dealer service centers do usually charge a little more, but classes are popping up all over the country to teach independent car mechanics about hybrids. After all, there will be hundreds of thousands of these cars on the road in the next couple of years, and mechanics will have to meet this demand. This timing works out well for new hybrid buyers. By the time your warranty is finished, there will be many more qualified hybrid mechanics available to you.

How often do hybrid batteries need replacing? Is replacement expensive and disposal an environmental problem?
The hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the vehicle, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles, probably a whole lot longer. The warranty covers the batteries for between eight and ten years, depending on the car maker.
Hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium. "Nickel metal hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled," says Ron Cogan, editor of the Green Car Journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they pay a $200 "bounty" for each battery to help ensure that it will be properly recycled.

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Top Hybrids

Toyota Prius

 

Toyota Highlander

Ford Fusion

 

Lexus HS 250h

Chevy Volt

 

Ford Escape

Lincoln MKZ

 

Toyota Camry

Lexus RX 450h

 

Honda Civic

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Different Types of Fuel

There are many different types of fuel. Today you can drive many vehicles that use fuel other than gasoline. Some alternative fuels are liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, methanol, ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hydrogen.

Petroleum is the top fuel source. It is also known as crude oil. This is usually taken to a refinery to turn it into gasoline.

Natural gas refers to methane gas found in coal beds. This is found in other places such as landfills or bogs. This type of gas goes through a lot of processing before it can be used.

Hydrogen fuel is a chemical reaction that produces energy. Hydrogen fuel is made by combining hydrogen and oxygen.

Straight vegetable oil can also be used as fuel. Standard engines cannot run on straight vegetable oil, but can be converted to handle filtered vegetable oil.

Ethanol is a natural gas that is found in other natural gasses, but it can also be manually produced and used as fuel. Ethanol is made from corn stalks or sugar cane.

Biodiesel is made from biomass which means that it is renewable and it does not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It usually uses soybean or canola oil as a base, but animal fat or cooking oil can also be used.

Methanol is made from natural gas, but it can also be produced by fermenting biomass. It is preferred to make it from natural gas.

Electricity can be made from many different things. Electricity is the most used form of energy in the United States. Electric vehicles are the cleanest way to travel.

 

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Which Hybrid Is Right For You?

Things to think about when looking for your new Hybrid

Monthly Budget
Hybrid cars generally cost from $2,000 to $4,000 more than a comparable conventional car (and in some cases, the hybrids can cost even more than that). Even with the hybrid’s very-impressive gas mileage, and a federal tax deduction for purchasing a "clean air" car, most people cannot make up the price difference. Accordingly, price is not a key selling point for hybrid cars and they are not recommended for people with limited budgets. You indicated that your car budget is about average, so this points against a hybrid car for you.

Price
Hybrid cars and SUV’s are priced from around $19,000 to over $49,000 for the base models. Expect the hybrid to be three to five thousand dollars more than their non-hybrid siblings. So do your research and compare all models to find the one that best fits you.

Gas Mileage
The average vehicle sold in the United States gets a combined highway and city EPA fuel economy estimate of about 20.4 miles per gallon (mpg). No matter which hybrid you choose, the EPA estimate will be well above that number.

·         The Honda Insight was specifically designed to get the best mileage and is the hands down leader when it comes to gas mileage. The manual transmission hybrids have EPA estimates of 60 mpg in the city and 66 mpg on the highway. Automatic transmission versions are rated slightly lower at 57 city/56 highway.

·         The next best choice is the current version of the Prius at 60 city/51 highway. Notice that the city estimate is higher than the highway estimate due to the car’s ability to operate on battery power alone at low speeds. The pre-2004 versions of the Prius are rated at 55 city/47 highway.

·         Up until model year 2006 the Honda Civic Hybrid was available with a manual transmission that was rated at 46 city/51 highway; the automatic at 48 city/47 highway. The 2006 the Civic Hybrid has been redesigned and is only available with an automatic transmission with EPA mpg estimates of 50 highway/50 city.

·         The Honda Accord Hybrid is rated at 29 city/37 highway.

·         SUV’s, of course get the lowest gas mileage of the hybrid vehicles but they are respectable levels for their vehicle category.

·         The Ford Escape is rated at 36 city/31 highway. That is much better than a non-hybrid Escape that is only rated at 22 city/25 highway.

·         The Mariner is rated at 33 city/ 29 highway.

·         The Lexus RX 400h is rated at a still-respectable 31 city/27 mpg highway.

·         The Toyota Highlander, being the largest of the hybrid SUVs gets the lowest mpg and is at 22 city/27 highway.

Appearance
A final consideration when choosing a hybrid is how it looks. You can choose a hybrid car that looks similar to others on the road today, or dare to be different and go with one that has a more unconventional styling. The Insight and Prius are the two hybrids with unique, "space age" looks. People tend to have strong reactions one way or another when they see the cars; they either love it or hate it. The rest of the hybrid vehicles tend to look exactly like their non-hybrid counterparts. Often the only way you can tell it is a hybrid is by the cars’ special emblems or markings, or by looking closely at the dashboard.

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Concept Hybrids Down The Road

Honda Accord Coupe Hybrid

·         Timeline 2013

·         The Accord Coupe Concept was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the press got a taste of what to expect from the ninth-generation Accord. Its bold and athletic profile is only the beginning. A choice of three powertrains will be available: an efficient, 2.4-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder, a powerful 3.5-liter V-6 and a plug-in hybrid, all of which are expected to achieve class-leading fuel efficiency.

Toyota NS4 Plug-In Hybrid

·         Timeline  2015

·         Toyota can be proud of what they have accomplished in the Hybrid world. The NS4 concept is bigger and has even lower fuel consumption. The technology in security and comfort will be far more advanced. Toyota is hoping for a release in 2015, but might be sooner with the technology that will be available.  

Subaru Hybrid  

·         Timeline 2014

·         This is Subaru’s first hybrid to be released. They are scheduled to come out with four models, none named at this time. The new hybrid will most likely be the Legacy and will launch in Japan. The Impreza or the Legacy will be the first in the states to get the gas-electric technology.

 

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