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New technology is prone to being a source of confusion simply because few people know all the facts, understand the technology, and get caught up in exaggerated stories generated by peoples’ natural impulsive tendency to allow fantasies to fill in the blanks. Following are 17 common hybrid car myths. We’ll see which ones are fact, and which are fiction.
Myth #1: Hybrid cars are inconvenient
False. The myth is that hybrid cars are inconvenient because they have to be recharged all the time. The fact is that the only hybrid that needs to be recharged from a land source of electricity is the plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrids are designed to drive between 20-60 miles per charge, but it can also be used as a full hybrid, getting its energy from the gas-powered engine as well.
Myth #2: Car will stall if battery runs down
False. The myth is that the batteries might run down while driving somewhere and the car will stall. The fact is that the process of regenerative braking protects drivers from this kind of situation. While braking, the kinetic energy lost is converted to the electric motor and thereby charges the batteries on a continual basis, even while the car is in motion.
Myth #3: Hybrid cars get 3 to 4 times the MPG of a gas-powered car
True – as long as you know how to drive one. Hybrid cars can get up to triple or even quadruple the mpg that conventional gas cars get. While they do get better gas mileage, hybrid cars do not boast an improvement over conventional cars to that extent. What really makes the mpg stretch further is the fact that gas isn’t actually used for all aspects of the driving. MPG is also gained by driving slower, maintaining constant speeds, and avoiding abrupt stops.
Myth #4: A hybrid only uses gas to drive backwards.
False. This is a strange one – the myth that the gasoline engine in a hybrid car is only used to drive the car backwards. The truth is, the electric motor is responsible for the propulsion backwards, not the gas engine. This is because it takes less energy to drive in reverse and the electric motor is sufficient for this amount of power requirement. Gasoline engines drive the hybrid forward and provide the energy for extra acceleration.
Myth #5: You Need to Plug in a Hybrid Car.
False – Many people mistakenly believe that because the word “electricity” is associated with hybrid cars that they require plugging in. Hybrid cars can actually utilize energy that is usually lost when the car stops or slows down; this energy is sent back to the rechargeable battery of the car to recharge it. Additionally, the gas engine in the hybrid car can also transfers energy to the rechargeable batteries. There are cars that require plugging in, these plug-in hybrids or pure electric cars allow for drivers to perform city driving without utilizing gasoline at all.
Myth #6: Hybrids are Expensive
False – Many people mistakenly believe that all hybrids are bank breaking in terms of their cost. This is a commonly held misconception that results from the initial release of hybrid vehicles. The brand new technology and the smaller appearance of the first hybrids led people to tag them as extremely expensive for what they were. As increasing numbers of hybrid cars are released however, the range in pricing of these vehicles becomes more apparent. While there are a good number of hybrids available on the market, the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight are two of the most affordable hybrid options. These two hybrid vehicles cost less than $30,000. As even more hybrid vehicle solutions are developed, these cars will become even more affordable as well as varied in size, shape and the features that they are able to offer.
Myth #7: Saving on Gas is the Only Reason to go with a Hybrid
False – Using a hybrid car is a great way to save money on gas; however, it is not the only benefit to using this type of vehicle. Certainly, hybrid owners pay less at the pump than non-hybrid owners; however, there are a number of other reasons why people choose to go hybrid as well. One of the most common reasons for choosing a hybrid vehicle is the decreased impact on the environment that this type of vehicle has. Decreased gas usage means decreased emissions which means decreased CO2 buildup in the environment and a better chance at a healthy planet in the future. Additionally, hybrid vehicles are sometimes chosen by politically conscious drivers who want to reduce the world’s dependence on oil. Finally, some hybrid owners drive hybrid vehicles because it is deemed as “cool”. Having an advanced vehicle affords these individuals some type of bragging rights not only because of the technological advances these cars possess but also because they can say that they are doing their part to help the environment. In a day and age where it is considered “cool” to help the environment as well as own a multitude of gadgets, the hybrid vehicle is the epitome of the “must have” hipster mode of transportation.
Myth #8: Hybrid Cars are not only small but they are also underpowered
False – Many people who think of hybrid cars immediately think of the slow and sputtering vehicles that may have begun the hybrid car movement. Hybrid cars have come a long way however, currently there is considerable selection available to those looking to adapt to this new technology. Hybrid cars are no longer limited to one or two brands; rather, most big name brands offer a hybrid vehicle. Among these cars are the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX400h. Both of these vehicles offer a 270 horsepower system. Additionally for those looking for more power, the Lexus GS 450h hybrid sedan has more than 300 horsepower. In addition to this incredible horsepower, this vehicle also has the ability to go from 0 to 60 in just 6 seconds – something many traditional vehicles are unable to do!
As for the size of hybrid cars, a good majority of hybrids are compact in nature; however, as development continues, an increasing number of hybrid SUV’s are becoming popular as well. Due simply to the affinity of drivers in the United States to larger vehicles, the hybrid market is adapting to include more “in demand” vehicles in their hybrid lineup.
Myth #9: Hybrid Cars are the Solution to Environmental Concerns
False – Part of the marketing campaign being utilized by under educated consumers and proponents of the hybrid car movement, is that these vehicles are the solution to all of our environmental concerns. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. The problems that have contributed to the decline of our environmental health can be attributed to a great number of sources including our over use of vehicles. While resorting to using hybrid vehicles can contribute to a healthier environment, it certainly will not resolve all contributing factors to our planet’s decline.
Hybrid cars have contributed to a great reduction in oil consumption however, which is noteworthy. A reduction in our nation’s dependence on oil is certainly beneficial. Current research studies show that hybrid car users can save around 350,000 gallons of gas per day just by utilizing a hybrid vehicle. 350,000 gallons of gas per day is considerable, but that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of oil consumption across the world. Environmentalists are hopeful that more drivers will turn to hybrid and electric cars to help increase this reduction in fuel consumption and consequently our drain on the planet’s natural resources.
Myth #10: Hybrid Cars are a Fad
False – There are many people who claim that hybrid cars are a fad and that the hybrid car technology will soon be outdated. The people who believe this are most often people who compare hybrid technology to electric car technology. A car that is completely fueled by electricity should not be compared to hybrid car technology however, because comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. Where owners of pure electric cars are limited to a single fuel source, hybrid vehicles allow for flexibility through the use of fuel and electricity. Even with an increase in the number of pure electric vehicles available on the market today, there is no indication that hybrid vehicles are going to become outdated in the near future.
Myth #11: Hybrid Batteries need to be replaced frequently
False – One of the biggest strikes against hybrid cars according to many people is the battery life of the battery in the hybrid. The concern is that if the battery of the hybrid requires frequent replacement then the cost of replacing the battery will soon exceed the money saved in gas fill ups. The fact is however, that keeping the nickel metal hydride battery charged between 40 and 60 percent where it is never fully drained or fully charged extends the life of the battery considerably.
So what is the average life of a hybrid battery? According to the standard warranty for most hybrid batteries the lifespan is between 80,000 to 100,000 miles. With that said however, the U.S. Department of Energy stopped its hybrid battery pack tests after 160,000 miles when the capacity of the battery to hold charge remained like new. One example of a long-lasting hybrid battery points to a Vancouver taxi driver who drove his Toyota Prius more than 200,000 miles in just over two years and the battery was still good as new.
Myth #12: Hybrid Cars Are a Relatively New Idea
False – Many people believe that hybrid cars are a new phenomenon but this is simply not true. As early as 1900, American car companies were producing cars that ran on steam and electric power just as much as they were producing gasoline powered cars. At this same time many engineers realized that these various power sources could be combined to create a hybrid vehicle. The first gas and electric prototype car was produced in 1900 by Ferdinand Porsche. In 1905 the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle patent was filed by an American engineer named H. Piper.
So while hybrid cars may seem like a new discovery, the truth is however, that the concept of such vehicles has existed since the early 1900’s.
Myth #13: Hybrid Cars are for Liberals
False – There is a common belief that hybrid cars are only for liberals and a good part of this belief lies in the list of A-List celebrities who drive such cars. These celebrities often tout their environmental efforts publicly, talking about how their vehicles are helping to benefit the world around us. While it may be true that the first audience to be attracted to hybrid vehicles were environmentally conscious drivers, times have progressed. More recently many more varied groups have taken to driving hybrid vehicles and the reasons for switching to these cars are just as varied as those driving them. Some choose hybrid vehicles for their lessened environmental impact, others choose them to lower their gas budget each month and others choose hybrid cars as a way of protesting the use of “petrodollars.”
Myth #14: Hybrid Cars Cause Difficulties for First Responders
False – One not so commonly heard complaint about hybrid cars is that they pose a threat to first responders. The reason for this threat say critics is the high voltage in the batteries that power hybrid vehicles. There is a degree of concern that comes with hybrid vehicles for first responders, but that risk is decreasing fairly rapidly as hybrids become more commonplace. In the beginning of the hybrid craze however, there was concern over the unfamiliarity first responders had with these high voltage batteries. The biggest concern was the need to cut power to the vehicle and the inability to do so due to unfamiliarity with the engine layout. These days though, the difficulty that first responders experience with hybrid vehicles is minimized as hybrid technology is more commonplace and first responder training programs are catered to include them in training.
Myth #15: All Hybrid Cars are “Green”
False – When many people think of the term “hybrid car” they mistakenly translate it to mean “green car” or environmentally friendly car. The truth of the matter is however, that not all hybrid cars are green. There are many hybrid vehicles that are not green by virtue of the amount of gasoline they utilize and the amount of carbon dioxide they emit. One example of this type of hybrid vehicle is the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. This car has a combined EPA gas mileage of 20 miles per gallon. That figure means that within a single year this hybrid will go through seventeen barrels of oil and in doing so emit 9.2 tons of carbon dioxide. What do these numbers mean? They mean that the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is less green than a small non-hybrid vehicle.
Myth #16: Hybrid Cars Cost More to Maintain
False – The cost to maintain a hybrid car is no more than the cost to maintain a gasoline only vehicle it is just that the nature of these repairs varies. Hybrid vehicles have much less need for repair on the engine and on the brakes of the car; however, they still require other maintenance practices such as tire rotation and oil changes. Some people are also concerned about the availability of mechanics that are able to repair and perform regular maintenance on hybrid vehicles. The fact is however, that the majority of components of the hybrid vehicle do not differ to those in gas only vehicles and as such they can be serviced by any trained mechanic. For those issues that do require hybrid vehicle knowledge, this is available more readily than ever as hybrid technology becomes more popular.
Myth #17: Driving a Hybrid is Much Different to Driving a Gas Only Car
False – Hybrid vehicles are designed to be just like gas only cars in terms of the way that they are driven. While some people worry that they will need to make adjustments to the way that they drive when they buy a hybrid vehicle, the general consensus is that there is no difference at all in the way a hybrid vehicle accelerates, brakes and handles overall. In fact there is more of a difference between driving a manual versus an automatic gas powered vehicle than there is between driving a hybrid versus a gas powered vehicle.
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