There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about hybrid cars, so I’ll clear some of that up for you. Disclaimer: I drive a Civic Hybrid. It’s nice, but I want alternative energy, so I’m not entirely pleased that I still have to fill up with gas every 500 miles.
Here’s how it works: as the car slows, the “regenerative braking” charges a large battery in the backseat. That battery is then used to assist the engine when the car accelerates. Also, when it stops, the car shuts off, and then effortlessly restarts when you take you foot off the brake. My hybrid (most, I think) also uses variable speed transmission, which means there is one continuous gear. I don’t plug it in.
Hybrids get better gas mileage than all other cars – all the time. They are more effective than conventional cars in the city because of the regenerative braking / charging the engine function. My car’s optimum speed is 50-60 mph, at which point it gets over 50 mpg. In my normal, city commute with several stops, it averages 42 mpg in the summer, and so far 40 mpg when it’s cold.
- Regular cars do better on the highway -> Not true. Hybrids are more effective in the city, but they still get much better mileage than regular cars on the highway. It’s not like they get 45 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway (which would still be better than a lot of cars). They get over 45 mpg on the highway and about 40 mpg in the city. The Prius is more efficient than the Civic, getting up into the 50-60 mpg range.
- They drive like golf carts -> Nope. They drive like any other testy automatic (I prefer a stick shift). They’re actually very smooth, and super quiet.
- You have to plug it in -> I wish! If I could plug my hybrid in, I would pay about $15 a month for my daily commute, which is better than $30 a month for gas.
- They aren’t economically feasible -> I got mine used on cars.com for less than $10,000. I bought a regular Civic for about the same price a few years ago. The Hybrid gets 100 more miles per tank than the regular, so I save quite a bit of money.
- They don’t have air conditioning -> That’s crazy. They have excellent a/c and heat. The a/c shuts off when the car shuts off at a full stop, but the fan still runs to keep air circulating. The heat always works.
Any other questions? I’ll answer them in the comments.