What is a hybrid and why buy one?

by under on 12 Dec 2009 07:29:29 AM12 Dec 2009

What is a hybrid and why buy one?

For carshowroom.com.au Since the release of the first hybrid car in Australia- the Toyota Prius- the popularity of hybrids has skyrocketed in this country.

Attributable largely to the rising cost of fuel, the term ‘hybrid car’ continues to grow in the consciousness of Australian car consumers, but what exactly is a hybrid car? And what are the benefits of owning one?

A hybrid is essentially a vehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources. Today, the term is most often used to refer to petrol-electric hybrid powered cars, such as the Prius, or the Honda Civic Hybrid.

These vehicles are powered by a conventional petrol engine as well as an electric propulsion system. The small petrol engine offers better fuel economy than most cars without sacrificing performance – when extra power is needed for acceleration, the electricity kicks in.

Hybrid models also use stop-start technology to conserve energy, which means the petrol engine turns itself off when the car is idle, and then automatically re-starts when the driver engages the accelerator.

These fuel-saving technologies become most effective when driving in urban areas, making hybrids best suited to those living or driving primarily in cities.

While hybrid cars may be more expensive upfront than their petrol counterparts, reduced fuel costs are likely to make the purchase worthwhile very quickly. Hybrids use as little as half the fuel of a ‘normal’ family car.

As well as offering savings on fuel, hybrid cars are well known for being the greenest cars on the market because of their unusually low carbon emission levels.

Hybrid cars available in Australia include the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, Lexus RX 450H, Lexus GS 450H and Lexus LS 600HL. Most other major manufacturers have responded to the success of these models with plans to develop their own hybrid lines.

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