Hybrid cars are vehicles that run on more than one type of power. The most common type of hybrid runs on both conventional gasoline and electricity, which is usually stored in batteries. By combining these two types of power, it is possible to create a normal driving experience, which would not be possible if the less powerful battery power was used on its own.
A number of hybrid cars are now available, but there has been some debate over how green these cars are. The main environmental benefit of hybrid cars is that they reduce dependence on gasoline. Hybrid vehicles usually produce lower emissions than conventional vehicles and they offer better fuel economy than cars that are powered by gasoline alone.
Hybrid cars, since they have two sources of power, usually have smaller engines than normal vehicles. This reduces fuel use and the weight of the vehicle. Many hybrid vehicles also include features that are designed to cut energy use, but which are not exclusive to hybrids. They may automatically shut down the engine when the car is idle, for example. They also tend to be aerodynamically designed to minimize drag and so to keep fuel consumption as low as possible.
The use of electricity to supply some of the power used in a hybrid car reduces the amount of fuel that is used. It reduces the pollution that is emitted from the vehicle itself, which can help keep the air in cities cleaner. Hybrid cars also tend to be quieter than normal vehicles, which can also help to improve quality of life in towns and cities. However, the environmental benefits of using electrical power in a hybrid vehicle depend upon the source from which the power has been derived. If the electricity has come from traditional power plants that burn fossil fuels, then it cannot be considered clean energy. If the energy could be derived from renewable, clean sources such as wind or solar power, then the car would be using clean energy, at least when it was running on electricity. Renewable energy is produced around the world, but it only forms a small proportion of energy production in most countries. Most hybrid cars are, therefore, running on energy that is derived from fossil fuels, even when they are using electricity. As the production of renewable energy increases, this situation could change, however, and hybrid cars could become more environmentally friendly.
Another environmental problem with hybrid cars is that the batteries that are used to store electricity are manufactured using the metals nickel and lithium. These metals are less harmful than the lead used in conventional car batteries, but they are still toxic. This means that producing and disposing of these batteries poses a threat to the environment.
Although there are some environmental problems with the hybrid vehicles that are in use today, there is an important benefit of driving these cars, over and above the reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. By showing an interest in environmentally conscious products, consumers can help to drive the research and technological improvement that will help develop new and more environmentally friendly ways of traveling in the future.
Hybrid cars are currently one of the most viable options for drivers who want to reduce their consumption of conventional fuels since they do not require any changes to the infrastructure that provides consumers with fuel. However, they are not the only alternative to conventionally powered vehicles. Cars can also be powered by hydrogen, ethanol or biodiesel, which may offer greener alternatives. PennEnergy.org is a good source of more information about the use of alternative sources of power in cars.