What are the advantages of hybrid cars?

By Tom Musbach

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Daily Answer is excerpted from the JustAnswer archives and features information provided from an Expert on JustAnswer:

Q: What exactly is a hybrid, and what are its advantages?

A: A hybrid vehicle is one that uses a least two different methods of delivering power to the wheels. The most commonly known type of hybrid is a gas/electric vehicle. It can run off of a gas engine, an electric motor, or a combination of both.

Hybrid vehicles often get better gas mileage then other cars for a few reasons:

1. Energy that is otherwise lost due to heat can be recovered and stored in the batteries. And example of this is that during braking the electric motor can become a generator which helps to slow the vehicle and also recharges the batteries at the same time.

2. Since there is an electric motor to help provide power, hybrid vehicles can use smaller and more efficient engines, which results in higher fuel economy.

3. Hybrid vehicles can turn off the gas engine while the car is sitting still and use the batteries to power up things such as the air conditioning, radio, lights, etc. This amounts to further fuel savings.

The biggest drawback to gas/electric hybrid vehicles is cost. The extra technology comes with a price, and a big factor of the price increase is the high-voltage battery. As technology improves and battery prices decrease, the price of hybrid vehicles has begun to drop; but they are still significantly higher (by 40-50%) than non-hybrid counterparts.

-- Answer from Brad T., master technician and Expert on JustAnswer.