How Hybrids Help You and the Environment

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

As hybrid technology improves and becomes more accessible to the average consumer, you may be wondering whether your next car should be a hybrid. Maybe you're not sure what all the hype is about, or perhaps you're unconvinced that the higher purchase price is worth it. The good news is that whether your primary concern is pollution or your pocketbook, a hybrid is one of the best options available. Here's how switching to a hybrid can help both you and the environment.

Reduced Emissions and Pollution

If you only know one thing about hybrids, it's probably that they are supposed to produce less pollution than traditional vehicles. This holds true whether you choose a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or an all-electric vehicle. A conventional vehicle will produce about 99 lbs. of CO2 equivalent during a 100-mile trip; a hybrid cuts that number almost in half with only 51 lbs.

Part of the difference can be explained by idling, which contributes to smog. Hybrid cars have gasoline engines, but they very rarely idle. Instead, when a hybrid stops, it switches from its gasoline engine to its electric motor and battery pack to conserve fuel and reduce emissions. The battery keeps the air conditioning and other electrical systems powered until the car accelerates to the point that its gasoline engine is needed again.

Lower Costs and Higher Value

For those unwilling to buy solely for the sake of the environment, the most common selling point is the gas-saving ability of a hybrid. Hybrids are designed with electric motors that complement their gasoline engines and conserve fuel, taking over at lower speeds and even recapturing lost energy. What this means for you is higher gas mileage and, thus, lower fuel costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if a 100-mile trip in a conventional car will cost $9.67 in fuel, a hybrid owner can expect to spend only $4.97.

Hybrid owners can also expect to spend less on brake pads, since the technology that allows hybrids to recapture energy while braking has the added benefit of extending the life of the brake pads. In general, hybrids hold their value better than conventional vehicles, which makes them better investments. You may pay a little more upfront for a hybrid, but you will also get more back on resale.

Incentives and Discounts

Speaking of a higher purchase price, when you factor in the various incentives and discounts available, a hybrid may be a better deal than you think. For instance, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles purchased in or after 2010 can earn you an income tax credit of up to $7,500. Many state and local governments also offer incentives ranging from tax credits to HOV-lane access and parking perks for those who drive hybrids. You may also find lower interest rates on hybrid vehicle loans, as well as discounted rates from your car insurance provider.

Driver Training Aids

Even if you try a hybrid for a few years and decide it's not for you, you will walk away from the experience as a better driver. Most eco-friendly vehicles, especially hybrids, feature driver assistance technology that helps you maximize your fuel efficiency. The dash may include a feature that lets you know which speeds are most economical for your vehicle and even offers other information regarding how to drive more efficiently. Over time, you will develop new, better habits thanks to your hybrid's tutorship, and you will carry these tips with you no matter what vehicle you drive in the future.

Environmental Investments

Even beyond the direct impact of hybrid technology, there are tangential benefits to buying a hybrid. Remember that in a free market system, you vote with your money. When you buy a hybrid, you are letting companies know that you care about the environment. You may not be contributing directly to an eco-friendly charity or alternative fuel research, but consider this: companies that manufacture hybrid cars usually do pour money into such efforts.

In a push towards social responsibility and sustainability, companies like Hyundai partner with a variety of organizations to offset any pollution created during the manufacturing processes and preserve the environment. As consumers demonstrated like-minded concern, these efforts will only increase.

Whether you care more about your bank account or the great outdoors, "going green" no longer means choosing between cost, convenience, and conscience. Hybrids live up to the hype on both sides of the equation, helping you save both money and the environment. With so many great benefits, switching to a hybrid makes more sense now than ever before.

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