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Should I Buy a Hybrid Car?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco

The hybrid car has become one of the most popular automotive trends in recent years. With more and more people worrying about the environment and the high cost of gasoline, the idea of buying a car that can run on different fuel types makes much sense. Whether or not you should buy a hybrid often depends on the amount and type of driving you do, although for many people, its symbolism as a more environmentally friendly driving option is what's most important.

Because hybrid cars are a relatively new technology, many governments encourage their purchase. This means buyers may be able to get incentives, tax deductions, special warranty provisions, and the right to drive the car in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. A hybrid car has no marked differences with a traditional car, and requires no special handling or driving skills.

A plug-in hybrid car.
A plug-in hybrid car.

This type of car usually gets much better mileage than the average car, up to 10% in some cases, and emits 97% fewer toxins into the environment. It is lighter and has a gentler impact on roads and soft terrain. With the price of gasoline regularly increasing, a car that can run on both gas and electricity, depending on the circumstance, is a big advantage. Most people who decide to buy a hybrid, however, cite a "feel-good factor" as their main reason for buying the car, and they often feel like it is their small way to contribute to a greener world.

Repairs to a hybrid car may be pricey.
Repairs to a hybrid car may be pricey.

Despite all the benefits cited above, hybrid cars also have some downsides. For starters, they are expensive, and even with a potential tax deduction, one may cost $3,000 US Dollars (USD) or so more expensive than a traditional car. They cost more to register, and repair costs tend to be significant, as all the car systems are intrinsically connected, and only special mechanics can handle repairs. Parts may not be readily available, which could mean being without a car for a longer period as you are waiting for it to be repaired.

A hybrid car.
A hybrid car.

How you drive can also affect whether or not a hybrid is a good deal. They tend to get better mileage with city driving, since the engine will use electricity more than gas. This can vary by model, however. In addition, not all models get the extremely high gas mileage that hybrids are known for, and an efficient, smaller car that runs on gasoline only might actually cost less to fuel.

Discussion Comments


My mother owns a hybrid. She loved it when it was new, but through the years, it has cost her in maintenance. It is not a car for someone who likes to drive it for ten years. She has about 80,000 miles on the car, and it is starting to need major repairs. This is expected, but the cost and length of time for the repairs is ridiculous. She is getting ready to sell or trade it in, which in my opinion defeats the purpose of being environmentally friendly. She has spent over four thousand dollars on repairs for her hybrid this year, and it is out of warranty. Every job needs parts specifically for a hybrid. She also needs a Toyota hybrid tech to do all of the work. She has decided that her next car will not be a hybrid. Her biggest disappointment is that her hybrid electric car is not as reliable as a non-hybrid when it gets older.


@ Cougars- You are right about the harmful effects of hybrid car batteries, but I would like to clarify a few things. Some hybrids use lithium ion batteries, which are far more efficient and environmentally friendly than previous batteries being and currently used in hybrids.

Manufacturing hybrids is still very detrimental to the environment. The Neodymium and dysprosium used in the batteries and electric motors are very rare limited resources that require large amounts of energy input in the mining and refining process. These are also crucial parts with few or no substitutes since they are used to make the very strong and durable magnets in hybrid motors and drive systems.


Hybrids are not the answer. Hybrids still produce nearly the same emissions as the most fuel efficient, non-hybrid cars in their class. Hybrids also consume ten times the energy of a traditional vehicle during the manufacturing process (mostly attributed to the mining and building of their batteries. According to a report published in Wired, the production of a hybrid vehicle consumes the energy equivalent of 900 gallons of fuel, compared to about 90 for the biggest trucks and SUVs. This is a significant carbon debt, and it would take a hybrid vehicle about 100,000 miles to repay this debt at which time the batteries would need to be replaced, creating a fuel debt again.

The most economically and energy efficient vehicle that someone can own is a well maintained, used fuel efficient vehicle. Something like a clean turbo diesel, or compact gas sipping hatchback. As far as new cars are concerned, turbo diesels that burn clean diesel or biodiesel are the most eco-friendly vehicles in mass production. I went to school for sustainability and energy so this is an area of expertise. I hate the fact that the term "hybrid" is associated with being environmentally friendly. This is far from a reality with the current battery technology.

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    • A plug-in hybrid car.
      A plug-in hybrid car.
    • Repairs to a hybrid car may be pricey.
      By: Monkey Business
      Repairs to a hybrid car may be pricey.
    • A hybrid car.
      A hybrid car.
    • Hybrid cars can still use gasoline for some driving.
      By: sint
      Hybrid cars can still use gasoline for some driving.