Driver’s Ed on Hybrid Cars

The fact that hybrid electric vehicles are becoming wildly popular with consumers, and that the auto manufacturers are having trouble keeping up with demand is good news all around, because gas-electric hybrids represent the simplest, most effective, most affordable short-term way to reduce fossil fuel consumption in passenger cars and the environmental impact of driving motor vehicles.

A hybrid combines the best features of internal combustion and electric drive, while eliminating the worst parts of each. Hybrid vehicles have both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, with a highly sophisticated automatic control system that chooses which one is running under what conditions. The electric motor is used at low speeds and for acceleration boost; the internal combustion motor delivers cruising speed and long range but automatically shuts off at stoplights. Deceleration and braking actually capture energy by generating electricity that recharges the batteries.

Hybrid vehicles are available right now and getting better all the time. The 2006 Toyota Prius gets 60 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway—a 15% improvement over the 2003 model. The 2006 Honda Civic hybrid gets 49 and 51 mpg, respectively. Even better, Honda’s two-seater hybrid car, the Insight, rates at 57/56 mpg. These three models, all qualifying as SULEVS, have the highest “Green Scores” issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. These early-generation hybrids continue to lean heavily on the internal combustion engine, because it’s the technology we understand best. Future hybrids will rely more on electric storage and drive and will increase fuel mileage greatly.

The other good news is that hybrids are affordable: The Prius, Civic, and Insight each cost between $20,000 and $22,000. Furthermore, the automakers are finding hybrids to be profitable, indicating that this technology is poised for longevity in the marketplace. Honda now makes an Accord hybrid with a V6 engine that lists for around $31,000.

Hybrids are the technology that is most immediately accessible to manufacturers right now. Every major manufacturer has hybrid models in the works. You’ve probably noticed that they’re even advertising hybrid SUVs. The number of models that meet the toughest emissions standards now stands at nearly 90, in all classes of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs.

Adapted from Solar Living Source Book: Your Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Technologies and Sustainable Living

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Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Dave C.
Dave C.3 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Bon L.
Bon L.4 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Susan B.
Susan B.4 years ago


Julie F.
Julie F.5 years ago

interesting, ty

Ali O.
Ali O.5 years ago

Cool cool cool!

Kristen R.
Kristen R.5 years ago

Thanks for posting this. I am considering buying a hybrid in the next year or two and appreciate having as much information as I can get. Now if only the prices would come down :-(

Eli Is Here
Past Member 5 years ago

Interesting article. Thank you.

Mary B.
Mary B.5 years ago

A $20,000 car is hardly afordable to low income people. And public transport, bikes and walking are not an option in rural areas, especially in cold climates, or to elderly people. I love the idea of all these things, but please, keep in mind we do not all come from the same mold or landscape.Bringing the price down to $5000 for a VW Beetle sized hybred would go a long way to move our culture into a useful and sustainable type of mobility. How about covering the top with solar cells to help generate electricity at all times when its sunny. And retractable peddles by the passenger seats so the kids can help crank out a few volts.And if they whine about 'are we there yet' just yell 'faster, faster, peddle faster'.