As we try to move towards more environmentally friendly ways of travel, hybrid cars are seen as a green alternative.
But is the expense of a hybrid car justified by its green credentials?
Why would you choose a hybrid car?
Opting for a hybrid car can make you feel as though you’re taking that first step towards going electric. You have the familiarity of driving as normal, and you don’t have to recharge the battery.
But hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius and the new Mercedes hybrid can only run on electric-only power for short distances.
The purpose of the electric motor is to improve fuel efficiency and give you the option of driving a few miles on the electric only. As you use more fuel when driving at speed, this additional electric motor can help you become more fuel efficient.
The battery on a hybrid car is mainly recharged via the combustion engine. Also, it can be recharged using regenerative braking, which is when kinetic energy released when braking is captured and used to charge the batteries. When this happens, the engine automatically shuts down to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Are hybrids worth the cost?
Many motorists opt for a hybrid in a bid to become more eco-friendly. But this doesn’t always work out.
Hybrids are much more expensive than petrol or diesel cars – but are their ecological benefits worth the cost? For example, the new Mercedes hybrid only does a max of 40 miles fuel-free.
Even a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with a battery that can be charged from a public charge point only has a range of 30 to 40 miles. For longer journeys, you’ll need to rely on traditional fuel power.
When you consider that a hybrid is less efficient than a diesel car on a motorway, you can eliminate any savings by the higher fuel consumption.
Would a hybrid car work for me?
A plug-in hybrid might be right for you if you live in an area with plenty of charging facilities and make journeys of less than 30 miles. Although you’ll incur the initial expense of purchasing the car, you’ll make significant savings on fuel if you can make most of your journeys on electric.
If you make longer journeys, then running on electricity all of the time isn’t an option. In these circumstances, a hybrid can offer poor fuel efficiency.
If you spend a lot of time driving, particularly if much of it’s at speed, it’s likely to be more cost-effective and energy efficient to drive a clean diesel or petrol engine vehicle.
What does the future hold for hybrid cars?
If hybrid cars are more competitively priced and could do more miles without fuel, they are likely to increase in popularity.
However, at present, the sale of new hybrid cars is set to end in 2035, and this may be brought forward to 2030.
Would you like advice from a friendly local garage?
At Hester's Garage in Fleet, we have a team of trained hybrid and electric car technicians, as well as a charging station. We also do MOTs for hybrid and electric cars.
Foster & Heanes service garages offer car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles, including classic and vintage cars. Free collection and delivery can be arranged if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres.