by Car Guide Editor (originally posted June 2013)
We debunk some of the more common hybrid car myths
Apart from those who still consider global warming a left-wing, hippie-conjured conspiracy, many of us want to do our part for the environment. With so many new ways to “go green” nowadays and with gas prices on the rise, its not shocking that talk of hybrid cars has also surged. Surprisingly, many people still don’t know what a hybrid car really is.
Several others even tend to harbor fears of non-gas motored engines. These fears and lack of knowledge are further blurred by a range of myths that exist about hybrids. Clearing up these misconceptions is the first step in understanding more about hybrid technology. The following are the Top 8 biggest myths about hybrid cars.
Also check out our Hybrid & EV Buyer’s Guide
Only Women Drive Hybrids
What better way to begin this list than with the most outlandish (and clearly ridiculous) hybrid myth. This, of course, is false. Recent stats show its almost exactly a 50/50 spilt. In fact, the Prius Plug-In has 67% male driver base while the Prius C is 57% dude driven. And with over 4 million being sold worldwide, its clear the hybrid car is being embraced by all demographics, niche markets, and yes…even genders.
Hybrids Are Too Expensive
Sure, if you plan on buying a Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid. Otherwise, this myth is questionable. While features like rechargeable batteries, full-efficient engines, and slick computer controls do increase the overall cost of making a hybrid car, purchasing one can also make more economic sense. First off, they come in a wide range of sizes and price points. Secondly, the amount of gas you save in the long run is considerable. In one comparison, it would take only two years to recoup the price difference between a Toyota Prius and Camry LE. And with gas prices constantly on the rise, these ‘savings’ can only rise as well.
Hybrids Are Boring To Drive
In the beginning this may have been partly true, only based on the fact that earlier models lacked a bit of power. But contemporary models can have just as much juice as their gas-powered counterparts. Prius actually competes with sedan-type cars in the mid-size range and can do 0-60 in 9.8 seconds.The Camry Hybrid comes equipped with a 200Hp engine which is faster than its four-cylinder non-hybrid brother. Not to mention fun new technologies inside the car, like massive 8-inch touchscreens with navigation and up-to-date telematics (to show exactly how much power is being used).
Hybrids Need To Be Plugged In
This myth stems from the confusion between hybrids and electric cars. A hybrid car is defined as one that runs on two or more power sources (electric + gas). The car decides which source is most efficient for that particular moment. Electric cars rely on an external plug for their power and have a limited range. Most hybrids also use a mechanism called ‘regenerative braking’ to charge their batteries. Basically, as the car decelerates, energy gets stored. However, the industry is beginning to expand to include “plug-in hybrids” and like pure electric cars, they will also need to be plugged in.
Hybrids Are A Brand New Technology
Incorrect. In fact, Ferdinand Porsche (remember him?) actually produced the very first known hybrid prototype (gas + electric) in 1900. The first patent for a hybrid vehicle was filed by an American engineer in 1905. Early inventors had the luxury of experimenting with steam engines in addition to gas and electric motors. Of course, gas won the battle as it was more convenient to attain. Not to mention, concerns for the environment were almost non-existent back then.
Hybrid Batteries Expensive To Replace
The hybrid battery tends to be misunderstood as well. There seems to be a sort of urban legend that buying a hybrid car entails replacing the battery. With a few exceptions, hybrid car batteries rarely require replacing. Some do come with a secondary “starter” battery pack (which literally starts the car). This smaller pack does have a shorter lifespan than the bigger one assisting the engine, and may need replacement. But not all hybrids come with these and the cost of replacement has drastically come down. The Honda Civic Hybrid’s is about 100 bucks.
Hybrids Are Too Confusing To Operate
This ones not so much myth as it is plain stupidity. The fact of the matter is, you dont need to do anything different when driving a hybrid car. Just buckle up, spin the key, turn on some tunes, and drive. The only differences that should be noticed – cleaner air and filling up less often.
Hybrids Are Unreliable
Like any other type of car ever produced, some hybrids have encountered issues along the way. But recent reports of hybrid system failures are increasingly rare and several issues have been resolved. In fact, 96% of all Toyota Prius models sold in the last decade are still on the road today. And if that doesn’t put the mind at ease, hybrid car warrantees should. Many come with up to 8-10 years of vehicle coverage. Also important to note is the drastic increase of hybrid cars in service vehicle industries (i.e. taxi cabs, police cars, etc). That sounds pretty reliable to me.