France, and now California, are both phasing out cars with internal combustion engines. Hybrid vehicles aren’t a million miles from the vehicle you already drive, but there are a few things you’ll need to know:
How They Work
When your engine is working it’s also generating electricity—the electricity that runs everything from your headlights to cigarette lighter. A hybrid takes some of this electricity and uses it to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. Most will use the electric motor when driving below 30 kph and the gasoline motor when driving faster.
And Plug-In Hybrids?
As the name suggests, cars like the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR can be plugged in while they’re in the garage. They make more use of the electric motor, only using the gasoline motor to extend the vehicle’s range by recharging the battery when it runs low. They’re great in city driving scenarios when you’re likely to be travelling around 40 kph and stopping regularly.
Do they cost more?
Yep. The lithium-ion battery in hybrid vehicles costs a lot more than a regular combustion engine, so you could end up spending 20% more than you would on a comparable combustion-engine vehicle. Prices are coming down, but they’re not there yet—give it ten years. Also, take note: currently, only Ontario and Quebec offer rebates for electric vehicle buyers.
But Will I Save Money on Fuel?
We’d love to say yes, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Obviously, when gas prices are high you’ll save more, and driving in towns and cities will make more use of the electric motor. Plug-ins will save you more than conventional hybrids, but will cost more and require that you install a special outlet in your garage- 110v won’t do. However, with the right conditions, and an uptick in fuel prices, you could end up saving more than you spent to get the vehicle in the first place.
Hybrid vehicles are ahead of the curve now, but there are more and more models coming out each year. Get the right deal and make the right driving choices and you’ll cash in soon. Even hybrid cars can get in accidents though, so if you need us we’ve got the skills and training to do auto body work on these vehicles too!