The Best Hybrid Cars

Developed in the 1990s and popularized in the first decade of the new millennium, hybrid cars are considered a futuristic technology. Under the hood of a vehicle no larger than a standard car or truck is two engines, one being electric and the other being regular gas or diesel. The electric engine varies in power but is adapted to greatly improve the fuel efficiency of a vehicle in street traffic.

Regular combustion engines waste energy in two ways. The first is the process of accelerating and decelerating. It takes more gas to reach a speed than it takes to sustain a speed. Whenever a car must stop for a light or slow down to turn, momentum is lost by applying the brakes. In a hybrid vehicle, one set of brakes is an electromagnet that converts momentum into electric power that is used to charge a battery if it is not full.

The second is that when a car is stopped, the gas engine is idle. An electric engine does not burn fuel as it sits still. If the gas engine must be used, extra torque is converted to electricity. The gas engine is capable of charging an array of batteries and never idles. This saves gas while at the same time ensuring that a dead battery is highly unlikely.

Hybrid cars have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are obvious since fuel economy in town is very high. Some hybrids have large batteries and electric engines and are capable of driving entirely with the battery, and so these cars are effectively electric vehicles for short trips. The disadvantage is having to maintain two separate engines and a more complex drivetrain.

A conventional vehicle has a larger combustion engine and supporting equipment. It might be able to go faster or haul heavier loads. A conventional vehicle is also cheaper and makes do with a standard lead-acid battery that is easy and inexpensive to replace. Vehicles that need a greater pull, such as medium trucks, are generally all diesel with turbochargers to make them more fuel efficient.

One of the costs of electric vehicles is the batteries, which are large and made of either nickel metal hydride or lithium-ion. Lithium is less toxic but is more expensive. In fact, it skyrocketed to $16,500 in 2018. For this reason, a large lithium battery is guaranteed to affect the price of a car, and electric vehicles in the future might be forced to economize on its use.

Hybrid cars cost more, but the price is becoming more reasonable. Like any other car, the gasoline engine has a long life if it is kept in excellent repair. Because of its high fuel efficiency, a hybrid vehicle should have a longer life before being scrapped and it will save a lot of gas and fuel emissions in that time.

For environmental protection, all vehicles should be properly maintained in order to reduce smog and to keep the vehicle on the road as long as possible. Manufacturing a car costs a great deal of money, so using an old vehicle for its full lifespan is as economically friendly as ditching it for a new hybrid vehicle. The exception is for cars in arid areas. Smog prevents raindrops from forming.