As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that hybrid automobiles represent the future. The benefits continue to outweigh the costs thanks to efficient designs. People often forget that Earth-friendly products don’t only exist just to help the environment, but also to create more efficient living. Energy requires resources and, therefore, uses money. Eventually, we’ll all be driving hybrid cars. Someday, we might even see total independence from fossil fuels. Check out some of the costs and benefits of owning a hybrid SUV.
Learning How to Drive Efficiently
Hybrid cars don’t just run efficiently, they teach you how to maintain efficiency in the process. Most hybrids offer a display that shows your present mileage next to an indicator of your current mpg. Many also tell you how much energy you regain when using the brakes.
All cars perform more efficiently from gentle acceleration and braking. When you can see exactly how each of your movements and decisions affect the mileage, you learn how to drive as efficiently as possible. For many people, trying to drive for the best mileage can become a fun and encouraging challenge on the road.
Perform Better Than Estimates
Because EPA estimates focus primarily on highway driving, you can actually beat those in your hybrid car. That’s right; hybrids actually drive better in the city than on the highway. Every time you stop in hybrid cars, they generate more electricity that can drive the car at lower speeds, or help the car accelerate quickly. According to CarsDirect.com, even a luxury hybrid SUV can get up to 50 mpg if used correctly in the city.
Gas Prices Still Affect You
Though saving on gas still stands as the main appeal to consumers, gas prices can still affect you financially. We all know that hybrid cars cost more because of their efficiency. Unfortunately, as gas prices rise, so do the prices of hybrids. Although, you could look at this as an upside. If you decide to sell you car in the future, and gas prices have risen, then you can sell your car for closer to the price you bought it.
Hybrid cars use two engines: an electric engine and a small gasoline engine. This can come in handy as electric engines are all you need in many cases. They produce their energy from zero revolutions per minute, which means you can accelerate from a complete stop to a speed two gears ahead with ease. The gas engine only needs to come into play for higher powered uses, like going at high speeds or moving quickly up a hill. The combination creates efficient riding, even when you don’t drive your best.
Batteries Work Great
People constantly worry about hybrid batteries, often citing them as a reason that hybrids don’t really save you as much money in the long run as the claim. Other people warn about batteries failing, and how expensive they can be to replace. Despite popular belief, you don’t have to pay for a top-notch battery from the company who sold you your car. Just like any other car part, you can buy one relatively cheaply at a salvage yard.
Hybrid batteries usually have excellent warranties, lasting long enough to make you feel like you got far more out of it than you paid for. Some people drive their car for over 200,000 miles before needing a new battery.
Lower Highway Driving MPG
This article mentioned earlier how hybrids can beat EPA estimates of a car’s miles per gallon by utilizing its efficiency in the city. Unfortunately, highway driving gives us a different story. Hybrids work the opposite of fully gas-powered cars in that they become least efficient on the highway. Don’t expect to feel incredibly fuel-efficient out there; you’ll still have a good average mpg, but certain compact cars and diesels can reach the same level of efficiency on the highway if driven correctly.
Among the best features of hybrid efficiency, you’ll notice that the gas engine doesn’t run at all when the car has stopped or is moving slowly. If driving in the city, you’ll constantly stop and keep the car at low speeds. Because of this, you end up putting a lot less wear and tear on your engine. This allows you to take your car in to get oil changes far less often and keeps the engine lasting longer.
Hybrids regenerate electricity with regenerative brakes instead of applying standard brakes, except in cases where you must stop suddenly. Most people drive around all day without slamming on the brakes, meaning the conventional brakes rarely get used. Thanks to that handy feature, you won’t have to bring your brakes in for service as often as you would with a non-hybrid.
The Car Stays Warm
As any mechanic knows, when you start-up a cold engine it’s harder to crank and can wear the engine down much more than starting one that you’ve already warmed up. Hybrids combat this by using a coolant they store in a temperature-saving container. So, once you’ve warmed up engine fluid, it stays warm for days. As long as you don’t let your car sit unused for days on end, you shouldn’t have any problems with wearing down your engine from cold starts.
It Takes Time To Earn Your Money Back
One last issue, though maybe not so important, comes with the time it takes to earn your savings back. The average hybrid SUV costs about three to four thousand dollars more than an equivalent non-hybrid version. If you drive 20,000 miles a year, spending just a little more time in the city than on the highway, you’ll save around $1000 on gas annually. That means it would take 3 to 4 years for you to earn your money back.
Now, gas mileage isn’t the only benefit of owning a hybrid, but it still acts as the main appeal. Even though you will earn your money back in gas savings, some people get discouraged by how long it takes for this to happen.
All in all, you won’t regret purchasing a hybrid car, as long as you can afford it. Future trends will only continue to support gas-efficient vehicles.
Benjamin Ferguson is a freelance writer in Portland, OR. He loves creative writing, especially humor, and would love to help you write your story, comic, video, or any other creative venture that needs ideas, writing and/or polishing. If you’d like to contact him about any of these things, send him and e-mail at email@example.com or send him a message on his linked in profile.
Alright, I have a confession to make … (as a Cali-based college student), as much as I try, I don’t bike everywhere. There are mornings when I don’t have the energy to wake up extra early for the bus, and I don’t exactly drive a Prius. Honestly, sometimes driving my car is pretty unavoidable, and no matter how environmentally responsible I want to be, it just isn’t going to be financially feasible for me to pick up the lovely new Leaf anytime soon. But all hope is not lost on me, or any of my fellow classmates who also feel a little guilty about their car usage. Here are a few simple tips for driving a bit greener in whatever wheels you already have:
- Lighten the Load – Cleaning out your car is a quick and easy way to up your mean machine’s green factor (and save money on gas). The more weight a vehicle carries, the more fuel it consumes, so trim the fat for a ride that is lean and green.
- Cruise – Cruise control, if you have it, is a surprisingly useful tool for green driving. Unnecessary acceleration (which many of us do naturally by responding to small changes in traffic rather than taking a long view of the road) is a huge drain on your gas tank. Turning on cruise control is an easy way to counter this troublesome tendency; one test logged a maximum 14% saving in gas consumption just from using cruise control. (more…)
If you’re considering buying a fuel efficient vehicle next year you may want to consider Ford Motor Company’s new C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. Ford is touting the C-MAX (available in early 2013) as the world’s most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid, boasting an EPA certified 108 MPGe city and 100 MPGe combined rating.
The C-MAX Energi’s combined rating of 100 MPGe accomplishes a best-in-class rating, beating the Toyota Prius plug-in rating by 5MPGe. The EPA equates the 5 MPGe to nearly $7,000 in fuel savings within the span of five years and at a starting price of $29,995 (after federal tax credit and including destination and delivery costs) — the C-MAX Energi is expected to be America’s most affordable plug-in hybrid.
The 100 + MPG club includes the Ford Focus Electric at 110 MPGe in the city. The C-MAX Energi joins the C-MAX Hybrid as part of Ford’s first hybrid-only dedicated line of vehicles. C-MAX Hybrid, available in dealerships this fall, is now officially EPA-certified at 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined – beating Toyota Prius v by up to 7 mpg.
“Ford is giving customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy regardless of what type of vehicle or powertrain technology they choose,” said John Davis, chief nameplate engineer, C-MAX Energi. “With $5-per-gallon gasoline, C-MAX Energi customers essentially will pay $1.25 per gallon for the same distance traveled compared with average vehicles estimated to achieve 23 mpg.”
C-MAX Energi features include:
- Regenerative braking
- Hybrid transmission
- Advanced Lithium-ion battery – covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile
- Charge port with LED light ring
- EV mode button – allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes: all-electric and normal hybrid operation to conserve fuel
- ECO Cruise saves vehicle energy by relaxing acceleration compared to standard cruise control
- SmartGauge with EcoGuide provides in-vehicle customizable displays, including instantaneous fuel economy readings and coaching functions to help drivers understand and optimize their fuel efficiency
Source: Ford Motor Company
Seeing natural gas fueling public buses of Southern California and expanding to the commercial trucking fleets of businesses like Coca Cola, makes me wonder why this transition to cleaner natural gas power is not being applied to the general public. The recent record increases in gasoline prices across the United States are occurring when the transition to natural gas systems for consumer automobiles seems to have been put on the back burner.
While hybrid and electric car technologies are currently available and/or being developed and more extensive use of biofuels is on the horizon – the benefits, savings and emissions reductions of natural gas could be realized now. According to energy analyst Frank Curzio, natural gas is implemented as an option to the mass market cars in Europe and Asia, but not in the United States (Growth Stock Wire, 2012). Ronnie Oldham, owner of CleanFuel Conversions (located in Austin, Texas), converts cars to run on natural gas. It only took Oldham $5,000 to convert his own car to natural gas power. Natural gas costs him about $1.90 per gallon at a local natural gas filling station compared to the local gasoline stations charging twice as much per gallon for gasoline. Oldham believes in the near future the entire nation will be running on this cleaner alternative to gasoline.
Since the U.S. has tremendous natural gas reserves (much of it untapped), this can help reduce our exposure to skyrocketing gasoline and oil prices and market fluctuations created by oil market speculators, government conflicts, and accidents (refinery fires and spills), while also reducing our dependence on foreign petroleum regulated by OPEC and other foreign suppliers.
additional source: statesman.com
natural gas bus photo via shutterstock.com
GreenTech Automotive of Horn Lake, Miss. just unveiled the American version of the MyCar — a two-seat all-electric vehicle that produces zero emissions and provides a range of up to 115 miles. Due to U.S. regulatory restrictions the American version of the car will have a top-speed of 25 miles per hour and thus be classified as a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle* (NEV). The European Union version of the MyCar has a top speed of up to 45 miles per hour. Though small in stature the MyCar meets and exceeds all safety standards for its vehicle class.
The little EV can be recharged via a common 110 wall outlet, a 220 wall outlet or a fast charging system with re-charge times ranging between three to twelve hours depending on the charging system used. The vehicle is expected to retail for around $15,500.
*Note: most vehicles falling under the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle regulations are restricted to roadways with posted speed limits of not more than 45mph.
related: more green car news from The Alternative Consumer
From a niche, almost novelty vehicle to a powerhouse in a little over a decade, the Prius has proven itself to be a market role model for the future of transportation. Despite the fact that many consumers likely think of hybrid vehicles as “alternative,” the Prius has become the third bestselling vehicle worldwide.
It finds itself in good company as well, first quarter sales of the Prius trailed only behind the Toyota Corolla and 2012 Ford Focus whose respective quarterly sales were 308,000 and 277,000 cars. The Prius sold just 30,000 less cars than the Focus to solidify its place on the Top 3 podium. (more…)