Between gas prices and the economy, American drivers are having trouble deciding what autos to buy. Many people are exploring alternatives, from bikes, to buses, to biofuels. One auto alternative is hybrid cars. But what exactly is a hybrid and why would you want one?
Gas Mileage. The reason most people want a hybrid is because of the great gas mileage they can get. How is this possible? Technology for hybrid autos varies, but higher fuel efficiency is usually accomplished with an electric motor. Batteries store energy recovered during braking and supply that energy back to the electric motor, cutting down on the amount of gas used. A 2008 Toyota Prius, for example, gets an EPA estimated 46 MPG for combined use, while a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid gets an EPA combined rating of 42 MPG.
Hybrid Types. However, make sure you understand what type of hybrid you're buying. Some hybrids are designed not to save gas, but to increase performance. For example, there are sports autos that take the gas engine from another model and add an electric motor to increase power. This design uses less gas than an auto with a bigger gas engine, but could actually use more gas overall than the same auto without the electric motor. A 2008 Lexus GS 450h gets an EPA estimated 23 MPG combined, while the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid gets an EPA rated 32 MPG. Buying a hybrid doesn't automatically mean you'll get better mileage than a big SUV does.
Discounts. You could be eligible for discounts if you buy a hybrid. Although their numbers are dropping quickly, some hybrid models may qualify for a federal tax incentive. In addition, many states offer tax incentives, parking incentives, and other toll or driving incentives. When you add these savings into the amount you can save in gas, suddenly a hybrid auto doesn't seem as expensive.
Auto Insurance. Another great savings opportunity could be a discount on your auto insurance rate. Some companies have started to feature discounts of up to 10% for hybrid auto insurance rates, although it depends on the type of hybrid. You'll need to shop around and compare auto insurance rates from different companies to see who has the best rate. If you need help finding your best cheap online auto insurance rate, you can use our online auto insurance quotes tool.
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