Please allow us to dispel some common hybrid misconceptions:
1. "Hybrids need to be plugged in"
This is untrue, hybrids use a gasoline engine attached to a generator (like a mini power plant). This combination allows the vehicle to charge its own battery when the engine is running. They can also capture the energy created when braking and store it in the large onboard battery. Some of the newest Hybrids can be plugged into the grid to increase MPG even more! but it is not required.
2. "The hybrid battery needs to be replaced regularly at a cost of $5000"
This is also untrue. We have seen hybrids well past the 200k mile range still using the original battery! As long as the vehicle is driven regularly and not parked for extended periods, the battery will endure. When it does come time for battery replacement, there are companies that sell refurbished battery packs for under $2k. Then the value of the vehicle will skyrocket. So that investment won't be lost.
Also, the battery packs are modular so individual modules in the pack can be swapped out if one goes bad. Most hybrid batteries can be repaired for a couple hundred dollars in parts, and a few hours labor.
**Our in-house service shop, Pinpoint Repair, is available to service and/or replace hybrid batteries in the rare event it is necessary.**
3. Hybrids are a new phenomenon
In 1900, American car companies produced steam, electric, and gasoline cars in almost equal numbers. It wasn't long before enterprising engineers figured out that multiple sources of power could be combined. A young Ferdinand Porsche produced the first known hybrid gas-electric prototypes…in 1900. In 1905 American engineer H. Piper filed the first patent for a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.
4. People buy hybrids only to save money on gas
Hybrid cars top the list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Going farther on a gallon of gas—and thus reducing a car owner's tab at the pump—is a logical advantage of a hybrid car. But car shoppers seldom buy based purely on a logical economic equation. Besides, as critics of hybrid technology frequently point out, those savings seldom add up to the extra cost of buying a hybrid over a comparable conventional vehicle.
So, if it's not to save money, why are more and more shoppers going hybrid? Many reasons: To minimize their impact on the environment, to help reduce the world's addiction to oil, and to earn technology bragging rights.
5. Hybrids are expensive
Hybrids are currently available in 25 different models ranging in price from $22,000 to $103,000. The most efficient models—the Honda Insight andToyota Prius—are available well below $10,000. By the middle of this decade, more than 50 models are expected. By that point, hybrids will represent the full range of sizes, shapes, and costs.
Rechargeable batteries, electric motors, and sophisticated computer controls do add to the cost of producing a hybrid car. However, as production numbers increase, economies of scale are expected to reduce those costs. Toyota plans to offer hybrid versions of all its most popular models and thus cut in half the incremental cost of hybrids.
6. Hybrids are small and underpowered
The Lexus Rx400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid share the same 270 horsepower system. The Lexus GS 450h hybrid sedan exceeds 300 horsepower and will go from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds.
These vehicles prove that adding an electric motor and batteries to the drivetrain does not intrinsically mean diminished performance. Combining a gasoline engine and electric motors gives engineers more control to emphasize fuel parsimony or speed, urban driving or highway cruising, large vehicles or small.
7. Only liberals buy hybrids
The list of celebrity hybrid drivers is long. They zip around Hollywood in their Priuses and appear on talk shows extolling the virtues of hybrid vehicles. These celebrities, and other early adopters of hybrid technology, were primarily motivated by the environmental benefits. As a result, they created an easy target for naysayers to brand all hybrid drivers as tree-huggers.
In the ensuing years, Americans of all political stripes have become more aware of the economic and political costs of oil dependency. Conservative pundits claim that our petrodollars end up in the hands of repressive Middle East regimes and their patrons. As a result, we fund both sides of the war on terror. In addition, autoworkers have grown more interested in fuel-saving technologies, recognizing that they bear the brunt of Detroit's reluctance to abandon once-profitable SUVs.
8. Hybrids pose a threat to first responders
Now that hundreds more hybrid cars take to our roads each day, some critics have wondered if public safety agencies should be concerned about all those high-voltage battery packs zipping along at freeway speeds. Yes and no.
A first responder is often in a mad race to save the lives of accident victims. In that rush, the responder has to make dozens of rapid technical decisions about how to safely remove the passengers from the vehicle. Adding the complication of unfamiliar hybrid technology can slow things down. So, it's the worry about potential dangers—primarily when and where to cut power—rather than the system itself that can cause a problem.
Turns out that a good amount of training—and, in case of fire, lots of water—should be most of what a first responder needs upon arriving at an accident involving a hybrid. Firefighters have coped with advancing automotive technologies for years, and they will skillfully deal with hybrid cars.
See our list of other unfounded health risks posed by hybrids.
9. Hybrids will solve all our transportation, energy, and environmental problems
The hybrid car market is ramping up. Hybrid sales in the US grew exponentially, from 9,500 in 2000 to 350,000 in 2007.
The numbers are encouraging but must be viewed in the context of the overall car market. The 350,000 hybrid car sales in 2007 represent only 2.5 percent of the 17 million new cars sold last year. If every new hybrid driver doubled fuel economy from 20 mpg to 40 mpg for 40 miles of daily driving—an optimistic estimate—then a gallon per hybrid car would be saved every day. That's a whopping 350,000 gallons per day saved by hybrid car drivers. But we've only reduced our daily US consumption from 400 million gallons to 399,650,000 gallons. Hybrid cars can only be viewed as a partial solution.
10. Hybrid technology is only a fad
Hybrid technology is often pitted against fuel cells, diesel engines, pure electric cars and/or hydrogen as the silver bullet approach to sustainable mobility. Sustainable mobility advocates don't see these approaches as an either-or proposition. It's all of the above.
The ability for automotive engineers to combine systems and fuels in a single hybrid vehicle gives great flexibility in finding the greatest efficiencies at the lowest cost.