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Resource Guide On Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars use both electricity and gasoline to run. There are many different brands and models now available in the United States, but only three percent of American buyers choose hybrid models, unlike their international counterparts. Japan continues to hold the top spot for hybrid production. The first hybrid, The Toyota Prius, made its way off Japan’s assembly line in 1997, the Honda Insight and the Honda Civic Hybrids quickly followed.

There are two basic types of hybrid vehicles. One plugs in to rejuvenate the battery and the other doesn’t. Both hybrid energy vehicles switch automatically from fuel to electric when the computer senses that the vehicle needs more, less or no energy from the engine. Regenerative braking converts normally wasted energy from coasting and braking into stored battery energy for the engine to tap into when needed. Plug-in models can be plugged into an outlet to renew its energy source, but run basically the same way. Both “green” vehicles reduce emissions, a boon for the environment.

Engines are smaller and more efficient in hybrids, also affecting mileage. Think about how much energy you use when driving hilly roads. Bigger engines have larger and more cylinders. When you accelerate up a hill using more cylinders, you use more fuel, affecting your gas mileage. Hybrids sense when more energy is needed. Instead of using fuel to get your car up the hill, it switches to the electric battery. This saves fuel energy, increases gas mileage and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. car manufacturers must comply by law to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. CAFE requires new cars to meet an average 27.5 mpg mileage standard. Just like the typical gasoline-powered vehicle, you can help your hybrid get better mileage by driving slower, maintaining constant speeds and avoiding sudden stops. Keeping your speed around 55 reduces drag, the force of pushing your car through the air by acceleration. Most U.S. interstates have a 70 mph speed limit. This reduces gas mileage by adding significant aerodynamic drag to your vehicle. When you keep your hybrid at a constant speed instead, you are not speeding up, slowing down. This type of stop-and-go or slow-and-go driving eats up energy. Stopping abruptly also eats energy because the electric battery doesn’t have time to recover that energy and store it.

Six of the hybrid energy vehicles listed were noted by the Environmental Protection Agency as “Fuel Economy Leaders” for 2011. The Toyota Prius tops the list with 51 mpg city driving and 48 mpg highway driving. Both the automatic and manual models of the Honda CR-Z made the cut. The automatic fared better with 35 mpg city and 39 mpg highway mileage. The manual CR-Z garnered 31 mpg city driving and 37 mpg highway driving.

As for the future of hybrid vehicles, experts agree that the long-range forecast looks sweet. Hydrogen vehicles won’t be mass-marketed for at least another decade or two and those will use more than hydrogen as an energy source making them hybrid vehicles. Although electric vehicles hit the market in 2010, they haven’t become mainstream. Hybrids already use plug-in and no-plug in electric batteries, so the two can co-exist readily.

Toyota Prius

Honda Civic Hybrid

Lexus CT 200h

Honda Insight

Toyota Camry Hybrid

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Kia Optima Hybrid

Honda CR-Z Hybr

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