With the price of gas right now, it’s no surprise that hybrid vehicles are more appealing than ever. While the average brand-new vehicle boasts an EPA fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon, on of the most common hybrids on the road, the Honda Civic, achieves an average fuel economy of 44 miles per gallon. Since the average adult travels 13,476 miles per year, the average non-hybrid driver goes through 539 gallons of gas a year, while a hybrid driver uses only 306 gallons in the same time frame. That equals hundreds of dollars in gas savings every year.
While hybrid drivers enjoy the savings of improved fuel economy and a sense of goodwill for making the earth happy, it does come at a cost. A hybrid vehicle costs an average of 20% more than their gas-powered counterparts. If you are considering buying a hybrid vehicle, you should take into account all of the pros and cons of hybrids, to make sure it is worth it.
Pros of Driving a Hybrid
- Hybrids Promote Efficient Driving
Hybrid cars fuel economy comes from more than just their electric components. While the function of a four-wheel drive truck is to navigate rough terrain, the mission and focus of a hybrid vehicle is its efficiency. Everything from the way the acceleration works to the design of the brakes is centered around efficiency.
- Often, the Sticker Fuel Economy is Underestimated
While we mentioned hybrids have a shocking 44 mpg EPA rating, drivers who have efficient driving habits, such as slowly accelerating to maintain the electric engine, often see much higher mileage.
- Hybrids Thrive With the Kind of Travel That Gas Vehicles Struggle With
Everyone knows that automobiles take less wear-and-tear and have improved fuel economy on the highway. However, people who use their vehicles more for stop-and-go driving might find that a hybrid is better suited for them. Hybrid vehicles’ regenerative braking systems capture the kinetic energy that is generated while stopping and puts it back in hybrid batteries. They also use more electric energy at lower speeds, as you would typically drive around town. Hybrids actually improve their fuel efficiency when they are driven off the highway.
- Hybrids Require Less Maintenance
In the gas-saving design of a hybrid, the gas engine is only running when the car is in motion. In fact, when you are idling, it is so silent you might wonder if your car is even running. Because of this, the engine incurs less wear over time. Many hybrid manufacturers only suggest changing the oil every 5,000 miles instead of the standard 3,000 miles with gas vehicles.
Cons of Driving a Hybrid Vehicle
- Even Used Hybrids Cost Nearly New Prices
The huge savings associated with driving a hybrid means that sellers know they can ask more for them. Even as hybrids age, they do not decline in value quickly. This is good news if you own hybrid vehicle, but bad news if you’re trying to buy a one on a tight budget.
- A Hybrid Battery is an Expensive Component to Replace
The heart and soul of a hybrid vehicle is the battery system. That’s where the magic is made. While hybrid batteries are designed to last at least 100,000 miles, when they do go out, it is significantly more expensive than the battery in a gas powered vehicle. On the plus side, most hybrid batteries come with at least an 8 year warranty, so many times the cost of replacing hybrid battery systems doesn’t come out of owner’s pocket.
- Not All Hybrids are Created Equally
There is a little-known corner of the hybrid industry labeled “mild hybrids.” Mild hybrids take compromises that might not make them worth the extra cost for a hybrid. In a mild hybrid, the gas engine stops when you idle, and then must restart as soon as you go into motion again. That sacrifices a huge opportunity for fuel savings. Some mild hybrids are even unable to run secondary systems– such as heat and air– when the gas engine is not running.
Do you drive a hybrid vehicle? We would love to hear what you love and hate about it in the comment section below.