The hybrid car continues to enjoy some popularity as gas prices continue a record breaking roller coaster ride, but I think this run of good luck is nearing an end. The basic definition of this technology is a vehicle that blends two different means of propulsion together.
The latest wave of these vehicles use different kinds of electric motors paired up with the standard internal combustion gas engine. This should not be confused with alternative fuel vehicles such as fuel cell vehicles that are hydrogen powered or the Fisker Karma pictured on the right that is a straight up electric car.
Even a solar powered test car is not a hybrid unless it’s dragging around a fossil fuel combustion engine. You could have an electric motor for propulsion and a gas engine just to charge the batteries. This would then fit in the category. I have been a student of alternate fuel automobiles for the last 2 decades. I was certified in CNG powered vehicles but I let it expire due to lack of public interest.
This type of alternative fueled vehicle just never caught on. Back ten years ago it looked like CNG (compressed natural gas) powered vehicles and propane vehicles where the future. Every couple of years it makes another run at mainstream fleets, but citizens seem unready.
Although natural gas prices are cheaper then gasoline the prices of both of these fossil fuels are volatile and susceptible to large fluctuation. No disrespect to T-Boone Pickens, I do love his TV commercials and his book is inspirational to say the least.
I wonder why if natural gas is so cheap and plentiful why was my gas heating bill record breaking last year despite a mild winter? Fox news also keeps telling me how much natural gas the U.S. is sitting on but they don’t explain why infrastructure is not being developed to support CNG. Yes it’s true every once in a while cng power makes news.
Municipalities receiving subsidies to build fueling stations and incentives to perform conversions often make headlines because they are feel good stories for people supporting the green agenda. This can make the projects look more popular then they actually are in reality. Until hydraulic fracking is proven safe and all citizens believe in it cng powered passenger cars won’t gain traction in my opinion.
In my opinion even companies that get natural gas for cheap do not like running their fleets on this power. I worked for a company that serviced a natural gas powered Fleet. This is why I became certified in CNG vehicles in the first place.
The systems where plagued with troubles mainly stemming from water created by pressure differentials. Although the tanks are placed in the center of the vehicle and are heavily shielded against impact these systems run at very high pressures and can be dangerous, again this is just my opinion.
I like the straight up electric car option better. Although the public does not seem impressed at the time of this writing. Chevrolet agrees with me but the Chevrolet Volt did not sell well in 2013 mainly because the cost is high even with the tax credit. Undaunted Chevrolet has comited millions more for the next generation 2015 model. Also note the volt has a tiny gas engine but for charging the batteries not powering the vehicle.
I like the Nissan leaf as it does not carry around a heavy gas engine like the volt. I’m still trying to figure out why people love to drive golf carts and bumper cars but hate the idea of owning a vehicle that needs to be plugged in. I wrote a post on the auto repair information blog and invite your opinions on the electric powered car subject.
Sometimes I am disappointed in the popularity of these cars. I have driven and worked on several different models of these vehicles and the technology is unimpressive. The vehicle also continues our dependency on foreign oil. When all is said and done yes you do get better fuel economy but it is not that drastic of an increase.
The fleet company I work for now has a Toyota Prius struggling to get 50 mpg and we also have a Ford escape hybrid that pulls in around 28 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving.
My girlfriends 2003 Toyota Corolla (we call her Lola) gets about 35 mpg gallon without carrying around a golf cart motor. I mean no disrespect to the hybrid car buyers of the world. In fact there is no other out of the box really good affordable choice at this time.
It is just my educated opinion that this car is distracting automakers from finding a better and longer lasting solution. The car makers will build what is popular and sells well even if it is not in our best long-term interest. I will now get off my soapbox and tell you what I know about hybrid cars.
The Hybrid Car will Save People Money
The main financial advantage in some peoples mind is the tax credits. These hybrid car tax credits range between $ 2,000 and $7k dollars this depends on the model and in some cases where the vehicle is purchased.
The discount is not a tax deduction but a tax credit. Meaning it’s subtracted directly from a tax bill. This requires extra work at tax time and should probably be done by a tax professional. To make this even more complicated if a taxpayer takes the credit and trades or sells the car before the useful life has expired a portion of the credit will be refunded.
This is on a pro rated basis and declines with the age of the car. Over-all the higher ticket price of the vehicle mostly offsets any financial gains. Also note the tax credit might be coming to end if not extended by lawmakers.
The discount was originally set to expire in 2010 but still limps forward at the time of this writing. An interesting twist to the credit is the fact that it is based on a sliding scale tied to vehicle popularity. The more the unit sells the lower the tax credit.
The government designed this program to stimulate sales and drive the hybrid car forward favoring less popular models that need help. One fascinating thing to me about the cars themselves is the different methods used to manage the hybrid power train across manufactures.
For example the Toyota uses a technique that stalls the gas engine when the vehicle is stopped. When you move again the electric motor gets you moving and the gas engine starts up and helps out all automatically. I mention this because it’s strange to feel the engine cut out at stoplights.
If you plan on buying a hybrid car you should road test them around town to make sure your okay with the different quirks about each vehicle. I should also mention the Toyota Prius was recalled for computer system control issues recently (not all models).
Our fleet unit was included in this recall and the control system computer was replaced. Then it was recalled for a steering coupler inspection. Reports of broken steering couplers that attach the the steering wheel to the tires has been reported to break if the front wheels contact a curb with force. The manufacturers are still learning how to build these cars. My advice is to get an extended car warranty that covers hybrid vehicle components. Share with a friend or bookmark this hybrid automobile page. Then explore all the links below that supply more information on the subject!
See Mark Gittelman’s Awards & ASE Certifications on Google+.
If I haven’t talked you out of wanting a hybrid car then the least I could do is supply some things to think about before you purchase. On this next page I supply a video along with some tips on buying hybrid cars. This next link takes you to another website. We do not know at this time what the long-range maintenance costs will be on today’s hybrid cars. For more information and to hear stories from the general public and vehicle owners visit the hybrid car news page. Another recent and updated article about the current state of alternative fueled vehicles. The united States almost silent effort to continue forward movement on their alternative fuel program.
Saturn had modest success with their hybrid car line before the division was closed. If you can still find the Saturn Aura electric gas hybrid for sale used it shares many parts with other GM models. I have received many e-mails requesting information about the water4gas system. I purchased the product and went to the hydrogen exposition in Florida. Here I provide my opinion on if water gas is a pipe dream and also if water4gas is a scam.
Find out more about me and this automotive website on the homepage. This next link takes you to car questions answered.