While most major automakers now produce at least one hybrid-electric vehicle, gas-powered cars still dominate the global market for automobiles. Environmental activists commonly cite this as a problem, since gasoline is a fossil fuel with limited supplies that produces harmful emissions when burned. However, there are still several key advantages to buying or driving a gas-powered car.
While the price of the technology needed for hybrid cars continues to fall, conventional gas-powered cars still cost less than their newer counterparts. In part, this is due to high research and development costs needed to bring a new hybrid system to market whereas gas-powered cars use technology that has been around for more than a century and refined over the years. Some hybrid models may also cost more to repair and maintain, especially if hybrid drive components, such as the electric motor or battery pack, require replacement. Depending on an individual driver's needs and long-term trends in the price of gasoline, the additional cost of a hybrid car may or may not be offset by its fuel savings. In addition, hybrid cars are newer, so there are fewer used models available at any given time. This drives up their cost and makes used gas-powered cars even more appealing to drivers with limited budgets.
Another key advantage of a gas-powered car is its range. For example, a car with a 20-gallon gas tank that achieves an average fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon can travel 400 miles before needing to be refueled. This is far more than the range of electric vehicles, which may use a small gas engine to produce additional electricity and extend their range to make them practical for more drivers. Hybrid-electric cars will have a range that depends on how much energy they can conserve during braking but still often have less range than gas-powered cars due to limited battery capacity.
Another advantage of gas-powered cars is when it comes to raw power. Some hybrid-electric cars, especially early models, may compromise on power for better fuel efficiency. This is a result of carrying the added weight of the batteries as well as the limited output of an electric motor. However, gas-powered cars continue to become more powerful even as they are refined to be more fuel efficient. Systems like displacement-on-demand, which allows a gas-powered car to shut off some of its cylinders to save gas under certain conditions, give drivers a combination of horsepower and efficiency.