What is a hybrid car?
A hybrid vehicle must have two independent methods of propulsion; each with their own power supply. Hybrids usually use electric motors running off batteries alongside an internal combustion engine using petrol or diesel fuel.
How do they work?
As with purely electric vehicles, petrol-electric or diesel-electric hybrids supply power to the transmission from a battery, by means of an electric motor. However, they also contain a conventionally fuelled engine, which both recharges the battery and supplies extra power to the transmission. The use of the petrol engine eliminates the problems of low top speed and the need to recharge the vehicle from an external source. Because the petrol or diesel engine recharges the battery at times when its energy would otherwise be wasted, its efficiency is significantly increased.
Where you can buy them?
Hybrids are slowly becoming mainstream, but so far only Lexus, Honda and Toyota produce hybrid cars available in Britain . Check out your local dealers for details of these – and contact other dealers as well because more hybrids should be available in the near future.
How you can use them?
Hybrids can be used in exactly the same way as a conventional vehicle. The only real difference is that you spend less time in petrol stations!
- About 50% more fuel efficient than a conventional vehicle of the same type, giving hybrids reduced emissions and cheaper running costs.
- Exempt from London Congestion Charge.
- No changes needed to your driving habits.
- Still relies on fossil fuels and therefore generates greenhouse gases.
- Higher purchase price.