Hybrid cars are becoming more and more popular since people are looking for greener and more energy-efficient sources of fuel. They are the perfect compromise between a traditional gasoline-engine car and a full-electric vehicle. So, what exactly is a hybrid car? A hybrid car combines a gasoline engine with electric power as a means of propulsion. The battery is charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine.

There are three types of hybrid vehicles. They include the regular hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and range extender hybrids. Regular hybrids charge their battery through regenerative braking while plug-in hybrids can be plugged in to an outlet to charge the battery. Range extender hybrids use their gasoline engines to produce electricity that recharges the batteries.

Hybrids consume less fuel than the gasoline-engine car and reduce the amount of pollutants and GHG emissions released to the environment. Plug-in hybrid cars can run solely on electric energy for short distances. This is very useful, especially when the gas runs out.

Advantages of Hybrid Cars

Hybrids come with incentives from the government that lower annual tax bills and provide exemption from congestion charges. This is because they combine two sources of power, and when the gas runs out, the electric motor kicks in to continue with the journey.

While using the full-electric mode, hybrids have zero emissions, which helps conserve the environment. Hybrids offer smooth and responsive power while producing less noise on the road.

A lot of people are choosing hybrids over traditional gas engines, and this has led to higher resale value. The hybrid market has grown over the years since the introduction of the Prius over two decades ago. Many manufacturers are producing more hybrids with improved features and technology. Whether it is a van, a family sedan or a modern SUV, there is something for everyone in the hybrid market. Here are some essential aspects to investigate before buying a hybrid vehicle.

Things you should know before buying a hybrid
The Price of Buying or Leasing

The cost of buying a hybrid is relatively higher than that of a gasoline-powered car. Plug-in hybrids cost more than regular hybrids. The most affordable hybrids have a starting price of about $20,000, and higher trims can raise the cost to $100,000. Other range extender hybrid models like the Chevrolet Volt earn federal and state credits that lower the cost of buying.

The Cost of Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are a major component of hybrid cars. It is not very clear how long batteries can last, and the cost of replacing them is relatively high. However, they still retain about 80% of their original capacity after 100,000 miles. Some manufacturers are offering lifelong coverage for their vehicles and reducing the cost and the need to replace the batteries.

Federal and State Incentives

The federal government is offering incentives to encourage more people to use greener and more sustainable sources of energy. This helps reduce carbon emissions. Different states also offer incentives that vary depending on the state.

Market Segment

There is a wide range of hybrids to choose from depending on their size. The design and seating capacity are also considered, and most range from two-seaters to eight-passenger SUVs. Designs range from compact, midsize sedans to hatchbacks. Most hybrid designs are based on traditional models while others like the Toyota Prius come with unique designs.

Things you should know before buying a hybrid
Features

Luxury and infotainment features vary for different hybrids and trim levels. These features include heated seats, automatic climate control, rearview cameras, smartphone interfaces, keyless start systems, navigation systems and Bluetooth capability. Other features to look out for include unique storage solutions, type of seat adjustments and home charging units that increase recharging time. Features increase and improve in quality as you move up to higher trims.

Technological features too look out for include wireless technology, cruise control, hands-free calling, remote keyless entry, proximity sensing, push-button engine start, smartphone interface, touch-screen monitors and USB ports.

Cargo Space

Hybrids with a design based on conventional sedan versions might lose a few cubic feet of cargo space to accommodate the battery pack. The heavy battery pack also reduces the payload capacity. Depending on the utility of the vehicle, buyers may opt for a hybrid with ample cargo space to accommodate luggage for traveling. A hybrid SUV may offer considerable cargo space compared to midsize family sedans.

Performance and MPG

Miles per gallon is the unit that measures how far a vehicle can travel for every gallon of fuel it uses. A higher mpg number means that the vehicle is more efficient while a lower number translates to less efficiency. A low mpg also indicates a bad fuel economy, and more money will be spent on gas.

Plug-in hybrids have larger batteries than regular hybrids. This means they can travel farther and thus have a higher mpg. Some hybrids have high horsepower and can cruise at relatively high speeds.

Things you should know before buying a hybridInterior Space

Most hybrids have a seating capacity of five people, with SUVs having three-row seats; some sport models only feature two seats. The interior should provide enough legroom and headspace for adults to sit comfortably. Buyers with children should check for seats with latch systems for child safety while driving.

Safety

Safety features are important to consider when buying hybrid cars. Most hybrids come with standard features, which include front-seat air bags, full-length curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. Other safety features include high-tech electronics that warn inattentive drivers of blind-spot intrusion and impending collisions, rearview cameras, traction control, tire-pressure monitors and adaptive headlights.

Some safety features that were previously reserved for luxury models are slowly making their way into the standard market. It is also important to check for crash ratings of the hybrid vehicle provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) before buying. Crash ratings test the vehicle’s rollover ratings, frontal crash, side crash and side barrier. A safe car should have a rating of about five stars.

Reliability

In terms of reliability, a buyer should check the warranty offered on the powertrain and the rate of corrosion. A detailed comparison should be done between the available options to choose the best one. Research about hybrid cars can be done online to check for reviews and specifications.

The choice of whether to buy or lease should be made depending on the budget and the condition of the vehicles being offered. Other factors include exterior styling and design, convenience features like integrated garage door openers, steering wheel controls, wheels, transmission type, dimension, weight and capacities. While buying plug-in hybrid cars that require external power, one should consider the availability of power stations.

Hybrid cars offer the perfect blend of gasoline-engine cars and electric cars. The electric car industry is still developing and facing some challenges with gaining footholds in the automobile market. Hybrid cars offer a solution while making the most of gasoline and electric power. The industry is rapidly evolving, and more people are considering hybrids over gasoline-powered vehicles.