Are Hybrid Autos For You?

Hybrid automobiles have become a way of American life. Petroleum-electric powered cars and trucks will become the norm over the next 10 years. Car choices will become more complex. It will be like buying in 1907 when fewer than 25% of motor vehicles were internal combustion engines. Now, like 100 years ago, you’ll need to decide which power train concept best suits your style.

Hybrid vehicles have been around for well over a century. During Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche sold about 300 petroleum-to-electric hybrids. Notably, the hybrids of the last century employed many concepts that are most efficient for today’s hybrids.

Rocket Science At the moment there are several different gasoline-electric cars and trucks available for sale. That number will soon increase. Hybrids now come in most car sizes. The Honda Civic is the smallest hybrid for now, but soon the Honda Fit will be. The largest is the soon to be released Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

Mild hybrid, partial hybrid, full-hybrid, strong hybrid are many of the confusing terms you are bound to find. Not to mention diesel, natural gas, and the other alternate fuel choices you’ll soon need to make. We’re still in the first wave of the modern hybrid revolution.

Automakers are still determining what consumers like, what you’ll tolerate, and what you’ll pay for energy independence and lessening pollution. You’ll need to do some homework, so you’re not disappointed in your hybrid purchase.

Unproven Value

Some of the early hybrid battery packs are just now being replaced and they cost over $3,000, although with more hybrid wrecks there are bound to be more used available at lower prices. According to Consumer Reports, today’s batteries are better than in the first hybrids and last 8 to 10 years or 80,000 to 100,000 miles. The price resellers can get for a used hybrid is changing.

The reliability of most hybrids is yet to be proven. Buyers of the hybrid drive systems pay a premium. To help defray the expenses, the government has federal tax incentives for limited timeframes. Review the chart from the IRS on the current 2008 credits for more information and for previous years. It's also available at Fueleconomy.gov. The program is for new models and phases out as the manufacturer hits 60,000 vehicles.

To compare the cost of operation and value follow this route; go to The Auto Channel then click on Vincentric’s Best Values, then click on, “See Also: to compare operating cost.” Compare a hybrid of equal size to conventional cars. Right now hybrids are more expensive to buy. Over the coming year, plug-in hybrids with larger battery packs will be for sale. Will plug-ins be a hit or too much trouble? For most, a hybrid is not a money saving choice.

Should I Buy One?Most of us have three motor vehicles in our family. At least one of your cars is likely driven at low speeds, short distances in stop and go traffic. This urban driving is perfect for a modern hybrid. If you drive mostly over 45 mph on highway say about 30 miles commute a hybrid may be a poor choice. Buying a hybrid may be an ethical or political choice. Cost may be less of an issue for you. If you care most about pollution then look at which of the cars pollute the most once again at Fueleconomy.gov. The least polluting mass produced 4-door sedan selling nationwide does not burn gasoline and is not a hybrid.

Now—Hybrids, Drive Differently

Like the name implies hybrids are a different breed. Some have uniquely funny characteristics and all of them make different noises and sounds that are bound to alert or alarm us “solely petroleum” addicts. It can be surprising when you are test driving the luxurious Mercury Mariner or Lexus RX-400h hybrids and the engine just stops when you’re waiting for the light to turn green. While driving on solely electric power turning on the A/C could trigger the petroleum engine.

If you are thinking of buying a hybrid, understand it will create a subtle lifestyle change for you. Start by looking at HybridCars or GreenCar and read reviews about the intimacy of the way the hybrids you’re considering handles, feels, and drives.

Set a Standard

Test driving a hybrid before buying is most is important because the car’s character is noticeably different. There are features you may find objectionable enough not to buy. Like all automobiles there will be things you will learn to put up with.

Are you comfortable the way it operates from 0-30 miles an hour? How does it feel entering the highway? Are you able to go up a long incline during your test drive or down a long incline? Urban driving including train tracks is a good idea. Do you find its response predictable? Is the acceleration smooth and consistent? Can you count on it?

Maybe you are interested in the new full-size GMC Yukon/Chevy Suburban or the mid-sized Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner or the comparable Saturn VUE; then make your standard the Toyota Highlander. Both the Camry and the Highlander have a similar floor pan and power train design. Both are well received by the driving public and the auto press alike. Now they set a standard.

Products in Pipeline

GM steps up to the plate big time with their Chevy Malibu hybrid that’s likely to be a success because it is an attractive complete redesign and will have good value pricing. In the next few years hybrid choice will more than double as the commercial success of the Prius stepped up the competition.

Frankly all the hybrids drive differently even from other hybrids. You will become accustomed to your hybrid quirks in a reasonably short time although you may be explaining them to your passengers for years.

The future of hybrids is pure electric, besides hybrids, battery powered cars are perfected yet hardly for sale. Presently hybrids are not the most economical or the most ecological.