The Hybrid Advantage

The average price of gasoline has gone up 20 cents over the past three weeks, to an average of $3.12 but not everyone is affected in the same way by this increase in gas prices. While some consumers buy hybrid vehicles because of the benefits to the environment, research indicates that the primary factor for most buyers these days is the improved gas mileage. Many consumers have decided to change the trend and invest into a hybrid vehicle. After all, hybrid cars offer drivers an innovative, efficient, and affordable option.

The improvement in fuel economy is the result of taking the best parts of both the gasoline engine and the electric motor and using them together.

A vehicle powered only by an electric motor has a limited driving range, lengthy recharge time, and an inconsistent performance, depending on the remaining battery strength. While vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine are more flexible than electrics, these vehicles are set up to deliver much more power than is needed.

A hybrid vehicle uses a smaller engine with less horsepower and pairs it with an electric motor to deliver extra power when necessary. In addition to utilizing a gasoline engine and an electric motor more efficiently, hybrid vehicles also feature “regenerative braking” to further improve fuel economy. Hybrids generate electricity from the car’s own motion when you brake to a stop. This free energy is normally wasted heating up the brake drums. In hybrids this energy is captured as electricity and used to recharges the batteries, increasing the number of miles that can be traveled per gallon of gasoline.
Compared with all-electric cars, hybrids have a great advantage. You don’t have to wait for them to charge. You just buy gas when you run out. With the same size gas tank, they go even further than a regular gas car.

Compared with all-electric cars, hybrids have a great advantage. You don’t have to wait for them to charge. You just buy gas when you run out. With the same size gas tank, they go even further than a regular gas car.

Hybrid vehicles incorporate the automotive innovations, advanced technologies, and engine refinements; all are engineered to increase performance, reduce emissions, and maximize fuel efficiency. Hybrid cars include the following features and benefits:

Smaller and more Efficient Engines – a hybrid car features a small fuel-efficient gas engine combined with an electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating.

Regenerative Braking – the electric motor of a hybrid is powered by batteries and acts as a generator that recharges the batteries automatically while the car is slowing down.

Less Wear and Tear – an added benefit is less wear on the brake pads, which means that they don’t need to be replaced as often as conventional brakes.

Periodic Engine Shut Off – To conserve fuel, all hybrids shut down the gasoline-powered engine during stops. This not only saves fuel and reduces emissions, but cuts electrical consumption as well. The engine restarts automatically when put back into gear.

Advanced Aerodynamics – Lower Drag. Hybrids have unconventional design features to maximize airflow. All manufacturers try to reduce drag wherever possible because a vehicle with less drag requires less power to move and thus takes up less gas.

Lightweight Materials – The use of advanced materials such as magnesium, aluminum alloys, and plastic resins reduces weight throughout the vehicle. Reduced weight of the material means better performance because the engine does not have so much mass to push around.

Environmentally Friendly – Lower consumption of natural resources with reduced emissions due to smaller, more efficient engines.

In the five years that hybrids have been on the market, there has been an increase from 2 vehicles, a two-seater and a compact sedan, to 11 vehicles that come in almost every body style. Today, consumers have a choice of several sedans, SUVs, luxury vehicles and even small pickups. Hybrid Center at edmunds.com offers detailed information about every hybrid currently on the market.

Most automakers consider hybrids to be the first step on the long road of change in transportation infrastructure, a change that is less dependent on foreign oil.

Hybrid Car Incentives

Federal Income Tax Credit – Qualifying hybrids purchased starting January 1, 2006 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $3,400.00 dollars. Please visit fueleconomy.gov for more information.

Many states have been offering both cash and privilege incentives for consumers who invest into ecologically friendly vehicles. Below is a list of some of the incentives by state:

Arizona – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

California – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes and are exempt from parking fees in certain parts of the state.

Colorado – hybrid car owners are eligible for a tax credit up to $4,700.00. Hybrids can use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

Connecticut – consumers who purchase hybrid vehicle with gas milage of 40mpg or better are exempt from sales tax. Hybrid car owners are also exempt from parking fees in certain parts of the state.

District of Columbia – hybrid car owners are exempt from excise tax on their vehicle and get a discount on vehicle registration fees.

Florida – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

Georgia – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

Maine – hybrid car owners are eligible for a partial sales tax credit up to $500.00.

Maryland – hybrid car owners are eligible for discount parking in Baltimore and an emissions testing exemption.

New Jersey – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

New Mexico – consumers who purchase hybrid vehicle with fuel economy rating of 27mpg or better are eligible for a one time exemption from sales tax and excise tax. Hybrid car owners are also exempt from parking fees in certain parts of the state.

New York – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers certain parts of the state.

Oregon – hybrid car owners are eligible for a $1,500 tax credit.

Pennsylvania – hybrid car owners are eligible for a tax rebate of up to $500.

Texas – hybrid car owners are eligible for free parking in certain parts of the state.

Utah – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers and are eligible for free parking in certain parts of the state.

Virginia – hybrid car owners can freely use carpool lanes regardless of the number of passengers.

With all their advanced technology, great fuel economy, and low emissions, hybrid cars are considered the future. Certainly, with all the new hybrid models and others under development, the technology will be a major part of the automobile landscape for years to come.

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