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  Does Buying a Hybrid Make Any Sense At All?

   For many years, to buy a car that was socially responsible was to buy a Volvo. The logic was that if this car was as safe as Michelin tires then your passengers would be protected in case of an accident. This was considered socially responsible because as more and more people bought Volvos there would be fewer and fewer fatal accidents. This feature that Volvo and Michelin had succeeded in bringing to the forefront of new car technology and design was safety. Today, everyone from Toyota to Mercedes-Benz has advertising committed to explaining the unique safety features of their vehicle. With the issue of car safety becoming a foregone conclusion, environmentally friendly has become the new politically correct new car feature.

Electric cars were around for a while with the promise of more efficient batteries always looming over the horizon. As time went by, it became obvious that the power and capacity of electric motors working solely off batteries would work just fine for golf carts and lawnmowers but would be vastly undersized when it came to replacing the American family car. With the electric car no longer the central fixture in the hunt for a greener vehicle, the door for a much more reasonable vehicle was left wide open.

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With the choice of either hydrogen powered vehicles or something a little less dramatic on impact, the car manufacturers went with the latter.

The main problem with the electric cars, besides their tendency to strand their owners when they ran out of juice, was; with the batteries having to be disposed of at the end of their natural life, it was hard to argue that the electric cars were environmentally friendly at all. In contrast the new generation of hybrid vehicles has both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. In city traffic at every red light the gas powered engine shuts down to save fuel. Additional fuel savings occur in the new Honda Accord Hybrid when cruising speed is reached on the highway, 3 of the 6 cylinders shut down. These two factors lead to a total fuel savings on the cost of fuel of about 20%.



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