Consider hybrid motor vehicles for fuel economy

High fuel price pushing manufacturer, buyer, govt. to admit hybrid motor vehicles

The invention of hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) has served the dual purpose of fuel economy and the growing demand for less polluting vehicles. The vehicles that run on gasoline incur high fuel costs for customers and the electric vehicles involve high initial investment, as they are much costlier. To deal with the situation, automobile manufacturers have invented the hybrid electric vehicle that runs on both gasoline and with electric motors.

Despite being in the market for the last ten years, hybrid cars still account for less than 2% of all new car sales. Europe has shown reluctance for adopting hybrid cars as only 0.2% of the total vehicles sold in Europe are hybrids. This is mainly because of the prominence and affordability of the diesel automobile. Demands for hybrid vehicles are also likely to increase as various governments are offering tax incentives to stimulate the demand for hybrid vehicles. Currently, three automobile manufacturers - Toyota, Ford and Honda control the overall global hybrid cars market.

The recent spike in oil prices has prompted auto makers to cut back on the production of bigger cars and gas guzzlers such as the Land Rover. To keep sales going of cars, big and small, that they have in the market, some auto companies are offering subsidies to customers to buy fuel at cheaper prices while they work on hybrid engines that will use less fuel.

Auto makers are also looking at other options such as hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels such as hydrogen. Car makers such as Toyota Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. already sell such vehicles. Some hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, for example, have been around for 10 years, at a time when the price of oil was less than a quarter of what it is today. The Prius has been named the most fuel-efficient car in the US by that country’s Environmental Protection Agency, but its sales are handicapped by it being about 25-30% pricier than comparable petrol-powered vehicles.

The tax you pay on your car is now based on the model's carbon dioxide emissions. The higher these are, the more tax you'll pay. Go to to find the emissions and tax band – ranging from A to G - of your chosen make and model. The tax you pay this year may range from nothing for certain hybrid cars to £400 for powerful 4x4s, saloon cars and hatchbacks.

With rising gas prices, today’s car buyers admit fuel efficiency and diversity is not just a necessity, it’s also fashion forward. If Americans had to choose between driving a car that was beautiful on the outside vs. one that was “greener” on the inside, nearly eight in 10 Americans (79 percent) who plan to buy or lease a car within the next two years would choose the greener car. These and more compelling statistics are a result of a national survey recently conducted by Challenge X – a national collegiate engineering competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM).

The survey also revealed more than one in three Americans (36 percent) who are on the fence about buying a hybrid vehicle say the tipping point to seriously consider the purchase would be if gas prices rose to $4 a gallon. Nearly three in four car buyers (73 percent) say the rising cost of traditional fuel would influence their decision to buy a hybrid vehicle as their next purchase.

Motor Trend reports that "Eighty percent of American car buyers would find someone with the latest model fuel-efficient car more interesting to talk to at a party than someone with the latest model sports car."  Automakers might want to put more energy into hybrid design, too, since "more than one in three Americans (36 percent) who are on the fence about buying a hybrid vehicle say the tipping point to seriously consider the purchase would be if gas prices rose to $4 a gallon." A few analysts this week have said that $7 a gallon is possible in the next two years.

The UK Technology Strategy Board also has chosen 16 projects to receive £23 million in government investment through the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform. Including investments by the companies involved, the total value of the development projects will be £52 million which represent the first investment by the Low Carbon Vehicles Innovation Platform since it was established last autumn. This project will initiate and accelerate the introduction of commercial fleets of zero-emission fuel cell hybrid taxis primarily for London by 2012 and for other cities by 2014. The project will develop and integrate PEM fuel cell hybrid powertrains into LTI TX4 taxis.

This project will investigate the application of various new technologies which seek to lower the losses due to friction within engines, plus other engine- and gearbox-related parasitic losses. The aim is to demonstrate an overall fuel economy improvement and thus CO2 reduction of between 5 and 10% on the European drive cycle.

The Victorian Government of Australia also argues the Rudd Government's $500 million Green Car Innovation Fund should be spending on developing hybrid vehicle technologies.

Since 2000, much of that innovation has been focused on finding ways to build cars that use less gasoline or run on cleaner alternative fuels. GM introduced its first hybrid in 2005, and this year Green Car Journal named the Chevy Tahoe hybrid the Green Car of the Year. The two-mode hybrid SUV boasts the same city fuel efficiency as a four-cylinder Toyota Camry, thanks to a two-mode hybrid engine that runs exclusively on electricity for most driving under 30 mph. GM also sells “mild” hybrid versions of the Saturn Vue and Chevy Malibu, which have an electric assist motor. They never run completely on electricity but improve efficiency by giving the gas engine a boost when it needs the help.

Consider hybrid motor vehicles for fuel economyHybrids, however, are expensive to develop and build, so GM has formed partnerships with BMW and Chrysler L.L.C. to work on hybrid technologies. The next rounds of hybrids are expected to feature more efficient batteries and plug-in hybrids.

GM has put more than 2 million E-85 ethanol-capable biofuel vehicles on the roads, and by the end of 2008 the company expects to have eight gasoline-electric hybrids in production. It has put fleets of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles in cities around the world.

On television these quiet, fuel-efficient cars — which blend electric and internal combustion technology — have been a strong presence since Larry David started tooling around in a first-generation Prius on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The Environmental Media Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes ecological consciousness in show business, both on screen and off, has been urging studios and producers to give the Prius and other hybrids a stronger presence in movies and television shows.

According to a Toyota spokeswoman the Prius goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 10.1 seconds, but could go faster if, like the Lexus hybrid, it were tuned for performance rather than efficiency. The cars, which were introduced in the United States with the 2001 model, are sometimes placed in movies and television shows on a promotional basis, the spokeswoman said.

For commuters, that means that a plug-in hybrid could run mostly on electricity — while today's conventional hybrid runs mostly on gas. A conventional hybrid gets equal to about 50 miles to the gallon. Plug-in hybrids can average around 100 mpg on the highway, and for shorter trips, get equal to 300 mpg or better, according to the California Cars Institute.

But Vermont is not California. Two plug-ins tested through the winter in Vermont ran at equal to 70 miles per gallon when the batteries were fully charged, according to a report issued this month by Green Mountain College and Central Vermont Public Service.

You save money when buying a hybrid the same way that you save money buying a regular car. A hybrid is any vehicle that uses both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Almost every manufacturer makes its own hybrid. They can come in all different makes from SUVs to compacts. Here are benefits of hybrids to consider before you run out and buy your next car:

It's a simple fact that hybrids get better gas mileage than gas-powered cars. Take a look at the standard four-cylinder Toyota Camry. According to the EPA, the Camry has a combined highway/city miles per gallon rating of 25. Compare this to the Toyota Camry Hybrid's 33 mpg. The Toyota Prius can do even better with a highway/city rating of 48/45 mpg. Some auto insurers have been offering discounts on insurance for hybrids. Farmers Insurance Group offers a 10 percent discount, so does Travelers Insurance. In an effort to encourage consumers to buy hybrids, many states offer tax breaks and other assorted perks. Thirty-six states offer tax breaks up to $5,000 on hybrids.
Choose hybrid motor vehicles for fuel efficiency


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