December 20, 2008

How to Select the Right Hybrid for You

Select the Right Hybrid

Planning to go green and buy a hybrid? You have to know a few things first to make sure that you're getting an efficient one that best suits your needs. Hybrid vehicles come in many forms today and also operate through various means and mechanisms. Here are some guidelines which will help you select the right one.

What Technologies are Available?

1. Idle-off capability is when the engine automatically shuts down when the hybrid vehicle is braking, idling or coasting. The engine can also easily turn back on once the driver releases the brake and steps on the accelerator.

2. Regenerative braking is when the electric motor takes over when the car is slowing down. It also doubles as a generator in which energy lost while the hybrid vehicle is braking can be converted into electric power that recharges the battery.

3. Power assist and engine downsizing is when the electric motor kicks in to help move the car during acceleration. The size of the engine is virtually smaller since both the electric motor and engine combine in providing power.

4. Electric-only is when the electric motor solely provides power for the vehicle when running at low speeds or when starting.

5. Extended battery-electric range is when the electric motor can provide power for the vehicle when running over a distance of 20 to 60 miles. Afterwards, the battery can easily be recharged by plugging into an external electric power source. The gasoline engine kicks in after the range has been covered by the electric motor.

Learn how to define the type of hybrid vehicle you are getting. Mild hybrids use the first three technologies mentioned earlier while full hybrids use the first four. There are also plug-in hybrid vehicles that use all five but are not yet available to the general public.

There are muscle hybrids that come in the form of SUVs which are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly compared to their conventional counterparts. Some hybrid vehicles may use only one or two technologies but still aim to improve mileage and ecological effects.

Questions to Ask

Is it fuel efficient? What is the average range that the electric motor can cover before the gasoline engine kicks in? Does it have idle-off capability? Check the gas mileage and engine size to determine if the hybrid vehicle you are getting can truly help you save more. Some hybrid vehicles are very mild in which a minor technology may only be incorporated. Saving even 1 to 2 gallons of fuel a day more can be quite cost-effective.

Is it environmentally friendly? Check the emission of the vehicle. Hybrids should have very low or zero emission which minimizes the risk of exhausting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Find out the electric motor capabilities since these are the times when gasoline byproducts are prevented and reduced. There are various sources of power available which reduce pollutants like fuel cells, hydrogen and electricity. Find out if any of these are incorporated in your vehicle.

What are its other features? Check the interior and exterior of the hybrid vehicle just as you would when buying a conventional one. Determine if the size is right for your or your family, determine the quality of the materials used if the overall structure is safe for highway driving and compare the advantages and key features with other models. Some hybrids don't look as stylish as gas models but there are also hybrids that look exactly like their conventional counterparts.

How much is it? The initial sum of buying a hybrid vehicle is usually higher compared to conventional cars. However, you will discover that you can easily make up for the initial cost by saving more on fuel. Again, you need to check the mileage, rate of consumption and possible tax deductions to see if the hybrid can really be cost-effective in the years to come. Also consider repair and maintenance expenses in the future.

Advantages to Look for When Selecting

The United States Federal government provides significant tax breaks to individuals who opt for hybrid vehicles. The tax break will depend on the tax bracket once the buyer sends a file. There are states that provide special parking areas as well for hybrid vehicles so drivers get to save more on parking fees. Some insurance policies may provide special offers to owners of hybrids on repair and maintenance too.

There are SULEVs or super ultra low-emission vehicles, ULEVs or ultra low-emission vehicles and PZEVs or partial zero emission vehicles that are very clean and quiet. Drivers get to enjoy smooth and peaceful driving without the environmental hazards and risks. Some of the largest automobile manufacturers are greatly investing in hybrids with very stylish and powerful models that can go up against the best gasoline-powered ones.

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