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Gasoline-Electric Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid Vehicles are powered by a gasoline engine as well as one or more electric motors.  Some hybrids use very small, efficient gas engines, while others use a normal sized engine, and use electric motors to supply even more power.  The first hybrid to be sold in America was the Honda Insight in 1999.  Currently, there are 8 hybrid models available for sale: from the 63 mpg (EPA estimate) 2-seater Honda Insight, to the 7 passenger, SUV Lexus RX400h.

Unlike pure electric cars, Hybrids never need to be plugged in.  The electricity that powers the car is generated by regenerative braking, a process that captures energy from the car's momentum that would otherwise be lost as heat.  This, as well as idle-stop, a feature that lets the gasoline engine shut down when it is not needed to power the car, allows hybrids to achieve better fuel economy than gas-only cars without plugging them in.

Most hybrids are able to operate solely on electric power at low speeds.  These hybrids include the Prius, Camry, Escape, Mariner, Highlander, Rx400h, and Civic Hybrids.  Other Hybrids use the electric motor mainly to assist the gas engine for better performance and efficiency.  Electric motors can deliver 98% of their torque immediately from a start, unlike gas engines which give their most power at higher RPMs.  This balance allows hybrids to have efficient engines without sacrificing performance.  Some hybrids even deliver more power than their gas-only counterparts.

Hybrids usually do cost more than non-hybrid versions of the same model.  But the added benefits of a hybrid, including lower emissions, lower gas consumption, longer range per tank, FAR fewer emissions, possible HOV lane privileges where available can outweigh the extra cost for many people.  In addition, this year the federal government offers a TAX CREDIT to purchasers of new hybrid vehicles of varying amounts for a limited quantity, depending on model.  Some states offer additional tax credits and deductions as well.  Your grandchildren will thank you for the extra dollars you pay now to preserve tomorrow's earth.