More and more automakers are introducing "greener" vehicles. Especially now, that gas prices are on the rise again, a lot of consumers are considering more seriously purchasing a hybrid and various reports expect increased sales. However, a lot of people know very little about them. Whether you're looking for a quick introduction to hybrid vehicles or trivia with which to impress your friends, you've come to the right place. Here are a few tidbits to help you get started; they're listed below in no particular order.
Hybrid Vehicle Fast Facts
Some quick and interesting facts about hybrid vehicles.
- Hybrid vehicles create up to 90 percent less pollutants than their conventional, gasoline-burning counterparts.
- The Honda Insight was the first hybrid vehicle to be sold to the masses in the U.S. This occurred in 1999. This small two-door car with EPA ratings of 41 mpg city/44 mpg highway won several awards.
- The Toyota Prius was the first four-door hybrid sedan to be sold in the U.S. starting in 2000. Four years later, Toyota had to increase production by 30 percent to meet demand. Toyota President Jim press said that the Prius was "the hottest car we've ever had."
- Although the Insight preceded the Prius in the U.S. market, the Prius is actually the older model by two years. The Prius was released in Japan in 1997.
- Hybrid vehicles today include tiny compact cars, family sedans, SUVs and trucks, luxury vehicles, and high-performance sports cars.
- The first hybrid vehicle was built in 1898 by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche of Austria. The car's internal combustion engine fed a generator, which then powered the electric motors within the wheel hubs. Battery power alone could drive the car almost 40 miles.
- Some of today's hybrids use the same basic setup as Dr. Porsche's original hybrid. In these cases, the motor generator recharges the battery pack and powers the electric drive motors.
- Hybrid vehicles today also use a start-stop system that turns off the gasoline engine during idling to conserve gas and reduce emissions. When the engine is revved, the engine is turned on again very quickly.
- Regenerative braking converts the car's kinetic energy into electricity to recharge the battery. In contrast, a conventional car's kinetic energy is lost to heat and friction during braking.
- As of the end of December 2011, over 4.5 million hybrid vehicles have been sold around the world. The top-selling brand is Toyota/Lexus with over 3.5 million hybrids, followed by Honda with over 800 thousand sales. Ford comes in third with 185 thousand sales.
- The bulk of hybrid vehicle sales occur in the United States, and most of these are within California. The most popular hybrid in the U.S. is the Toyota Prius; the one millionth Prius was sold in April 2011.
- Most hybrid vehicles get better gas mileage in the city than on freeways because the stop-and-go traffic of city driving offers more opportunities for the regenerative braking to capture and store energy. This stored energy is later used to power the car, thus reducing the need for gasoline.
- Many hybrids offer between 25 and 35 percent better fuel economy than their conventional counterparts.
- Compared to gas-powered vehicles, hybrids may have higher costs for preventative maintenance but lower costs for non-scheduled maintenance. This includes lower brake replacement costs due to regenerative braking.
- Contrary to skeptics' concerns over battery life or replacement, government tests have concluded that the batteries will last at least eight years. When replacements are needed, individual cells can be replaced rather than the entire pack; this saves substantially on cost.
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