Are Hybrid Cars Really More Cost Effective?

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If you listen to the car companies, hybrid cars are the best invention since sliced bread. While there are many reasons to buy a hybrid car, including a new tax incentive for US owners, it doesn't hurt to have a good understanding of how they work. This article explores the myths, benefits and drawbacks of owning one of these new "green" vehicles. Are hybrid cars really more cost effective?

What is a hybrid car? Basically, it's a normal, fuel efficient car that has two motors – an electric motor and a gasoline powered motor. It also uses a special system to store braking energy in an onboard battery. But why buy a hybrid? Why not buy a traditional gas or electric powered car? Keep in mind, one of the basic rules of science is the more complex the system, two motors instead on one, the more often it will break down. This is a hard question and, in the minds of some experts, not fully answered. The reason for two motors is in the strengths and weaknesses of both types. The electric motors use no energy during idle, they turn off. At low speeds, electric use less than gas motors. Gas motors do better at high speeds and can deliver more power for a given motor weight. That means during rush hour stop and go driving, the electric motor works great and, as an added benefit, does not produce any exhaust thus reducing smog levels. At higher speeds above 40 mph, the gas motor kicks in and gives that peppy feel so many car owners look for when driving on the highway. Another benefit of having the gas motor is it charges the batteries while it's running. Many an electric car owner has been stranded just out extension cord range of an outlet. Hybrid owners can forget about this annoyance; the gas motors starts automatically when the battery gets low and proceeds to charge the battery. A hybrid no longer needs to be plugged into an outlet. All this new technology comes at a price: a hybrid car is not cheap. With two motors and all the ancillary systems to manage them plus...
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