Even as hybrid vehicles increase in popularity, many drivers remain misinformed about the pros and cons of driving a hybrid. Here is a look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions.
Hybrids Are Electric Cars
Hybrid cars have electric engines under the hood, right alongside their gasoline combustion engines. This is why we use the term “hybrid.” Most of the waste and smog generated by a combustion engine is due to stop and go city traffic. Idling, braking and accelerating all waste fuel. Hybrids overcome this problem by using an electric engine at speeds below around 25 miles per hour, and never idling. When travelling on the highway at higher and more consistent speeds, hybrids use their gasoline combustion engines. The electric engine is reserved for passing and quick acceleration.
Hybrids Are Too Small or Too Slow
Because hybrids are powered by regular gasoline engines, with the addition of an electric motor, many models offer more power than their traditional counterparts. Like traditional vehicles, the most affordable hybrids are compact and lack muscle. In addition to those economy models, an increasing number of luxury sedans and heavy pickup trucks are available. Watch for the Mitsubishi Pajero to join the Cadillac Escalade and Chevy Tahoe in the hybrid SUV fray, perhaps as soon as next year. Porsche is producing high performance hybrids for competition as well as for the consumer market.
Hybrids Are Too Expensive
We all know by now that hybrid drivers save money on gasoline, but many drivers consider the initial cost of a hybrid to be too high. Like most new technology, hybrids were expensive when they first hit the market. Now that hybrids are entering the mainstream and competition among car makers is increasing, hybrids are becoming more affordable every year. Hybrids have also become more affordable to maintain. More mechanics are prepared to work on them, and replacement parts have become more widely available.
The Battery Will Not Last
This myth is easy for drivers to believe, particularly if they have ever owned a laptop that was several years old. Unlike laptops, mobile phones and most other rechargeable electronics, a hybrid car never fully charges its battery. By maintaining a maximum charge of around 50%, hybrid engineers have ensured that their batteries will have a long life cycle. Normally, the warranty on a hybrid battery is good for 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Batteries tested up to 160,000 miles have performed like new.
All Hybrids Need to Be Plugged in
Some hybrid models must be plugged in to charge. Others charge their batteries using technology called regenerative braking. When the driver brakes, kinetic energy that would be wasted in a traditional vehicle is captured by the electric motor, and stored in the battery. Many hybrids use a combination of both methods.