Feb 9, 2011

The Hybrid War

To buy a Hybrid, or not to buy? Where should I begin? These are the questions on my mind this week.

A Hybrid car uses more than one source to generate the power to move the vehicle. Some use a smaller gasoline motor to generate electricity needed to run the car and its accessories, while others use a combination of fuel and electric motors, or fuel cells to move. Although Hybrid cars are more expensive and not as appealing as regular ones, they are superior because they offer savings at the gas pump; they are less harmful to the environment and have superior mileage unlike regular ones.

They offer savings because they switch between a gasoline engine and an electric motor. These cars tend to be more expensive due to the motor, battery and extra parts. Basically, a Hybrid uses less gas because it creates its own electrical energy when stopped; breaking converts energy into electricity stored in the battery. The ability to shut off the engine while the motor is running brings further savings to owners. Nationwide sales of Hybrids peaked on April 2008 when gas was about $3.50 a gallon.

This is how the engine works in a Prius.

Cars are the main producers of carbon emissions that are causing global warming. Driving Hybrid vehicles helps reduce the amount of harmful gases. Carbon emissions from U.S. cars contribute to about 5% of the world's total carbon emissions, more than any other industry sector, including the airline industry. Supporters of Hybrid vehicles stated that, by 2050, we'll see dramatic climate changes causing drought in the Amazon, Mediterranean and eastern U.S. These extreme weather patterns reflect the effects of the excess in carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

In addition to creating huge savings at the gas pump and being eco-friendly, Hybrids also have superior mileage. A standard economy vehicle has an MPG of 25 to 30 miles, whereas a Hybrid has an average of 45 to 50 miles. Kim Reynolds, a writer at Motor Trend magazine, states "Prius Profile-aerodynamic streamline shape- will become increasingly common as the EPA's 2020 mandate for a 35 mpg fleet average draws nearer". In other words, she believes that the aerodynamic shape of the Toyota Prius gives it an advantage over other cars to have a higher mileage capacity. Its technologically advanced shape and engine gives it an edge over regular cars and even other Hybrids.

It is true that Hybrids are still more expensive than regular ones, but they are environmentally sensible with better fuel efficiency; their power is a cleaner option for air quality and fuel consumption. Nevertheless, the concept of a better car continues to grab consumers' attention. I think the most positive side of replacing regular vehicles and dependence on foreign oil supplies is the Hybrid car for now. So, whether it is to protect the environment, to pay less at the gas pump, or to brag about how trendy you are by driving the latest Hybrid car, you are better off driving a Hybrid than a regular one with higher carbon emissions and one that uses more gas that costs more.

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