When gas prices hit all time highs during the summer of 2007, drivers began to see the allure of trading in their gas-guzzling SUVs for more fuel-efficient hybrids. Up to this point, Toyota and Honda had led the market with their highly efficient models, but by the summer of 2009 most of the other automakers were catching up, offering hybrid versions of their own car models.
Hybrid cars have smaller, more fuel-efficient engines that tend to get anywhere from 5 to 10 mpg more than their standard counterparts, saving on gas costs and emissions.
The engines in hybrids have rechargeable battery cells that work in tandem with diesel or gas engines.
Hybrid cars produce less pollution since the engine only burns fuel part of the time. Comparing a standard and hybrid Toyota Camry using HybridCars.com's Impact Calculator suggests that the hybrid emits almost 28% less carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
Lower Gas Costs
Since hybrids burn less gas, owners spend less on gas each year. Comparing the standard Toyota Camry to the hybrid version, an owner would save almost $500 a year on gas with the hybrid.
Less Dependence on Foreign Oil
Driving a hybrid could make as much of a political statement as it does an environmental one. Less dependence on oil from foreign sources could mean more stable foreign relations for the U.S.
Most Convenient Green Options on the Market
While hybrids are still using gasoline, they are much more convenient than the current electric only vehicles on the market, which tend to be limited to a short range and lower speeds.
Maintenance on hybrids can be less than most standard cars because the typical gasoline burning system takes more of a toll on the engine than the hybrid system does.
Less Toxic Batteries
Most new hybrids come with NiMH batteries that can be recycled, with some auto manufacturers even offering to take old batteries back and process them. This is a big change over older toxic automotive batteries.
Just as Safe as Standard Cars
Hybrid cars have great safety ratings, equaling their standard counterparts. Check sources like Edmunds (edmunds.com) and the Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) to compare.
Rebates and Incentives
Tax incentives are making it easier for drivers to switch from standard to hybrid vehicles, with federal, state and local initiatives in place in some regions, ranging from free parking for hybrids to tax credits for those who purchased new hybrids.
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