As hybrid cars become ever more popular and more environmentally conscious drivers switch to a dual powered car, an increasing number of people are becoming interested in the arguments concerning the pros and cons of such vehicles.
Whether hybrids, such as the new Lexus UK models, are a better investment than petrol powered cars has been hotly disputed for a while now, with drivers split between the new form of hybrid power and the more traditional petrol motor.
Here we take a look at the pros and cons of hybrid cars over their petrol-powered ancestors:
Cars such as a Lexus hybrid are in their element when it comes to driving in built up, urban areas. This is due to the way in which, at slow speeds, they only use their electric motors thus conserving a great deal of petrol and reducing emissions.
It also helps that as you slow down and brake, more electricity is generated to charge your batteries. This means that you’re essentially refuelling your car every time you slow to a stop.
One of the greatest benefits of a hybrid car is its multi-engine power. The fact that it has both an electric motor and a petrol engine means that it is optimised for use in any driving situation.
For zipping through the city, the electric motor is perfect for stop-start driving while at higher, cruising speeds the petrol engine kicks in as the most efficient form of power. Brilliantly, if you need power from both engines, when you’re overtaking for instance, most hybrids will be able to manage this with ease.
Rising petrol prices
The fact that petrol prices are continuing to rise means that hybrids are becoming a more attractive option for cash-strapped motorists. Fewer trips to the pump results in more money in your pocket but this could cause the initial price of such vehicles to grow.
While this isn’t such an issue if you’re using a hybrid car in the city or on smaller roads, some people may find the fact that there aren’t too many large hybrids on the market a bit of a restriction. If you need huge amounts of space and are used to being able to squash a large quantity of luggage into your car, finding a sufficiently sized hybrid may require a little work.
Distinctions between hybrids
One thing you have to remember when buying a hybrid is that they don’t all work in the same way. As such, it’s important that you recognise that some ‘mild’ hybrids won’t fulfil the same potential as a ‘true’ hybrid.
For those who are unsure of the distinction, the differences are relatively easy to understand. For any car to be classed as a type of hybrid it must undergo a number of processes. The defining characteristics of these vehicles are features such as the capacity to have an idle-off function or for regenerative braking to be included.
Hybridisation, the process of turning a vehicle into a hybrid, is claimed by some to take five steps. The stage or step reached by a particular vehicle then determines whether or not it is a ‘full’ or ‘true’ hybrid or a slightly inferior form – the ‘mild’ hybrid.
Cars which reach stage three, and thus featuring idle-off capacities, regenerative braking and power assist with smaller engines, are classified as mild hybrids. Those vehicles which reach the next stage and offer electric-only drive are classed as ‘full hybrids’ with cars that are able to provide extended battery range (stage five) considered a ‘plug-in’ hybrid.