The hybrid-electric is the original and still reigning champion of green cars, with several of the world's leading automobile manufacturers having adopted this technology into their line-ups. Hybrids combine an electric motor with a gas engine and are available across the spectrum: compacts, sedans, crossovers, SUVs, pick-ups, or even buses. Learn more about how the hybrid technology works.
Major car manufacturers were quick to adopt hybrids because the technology was ready to use: combustion engines were already their specialty, and advances in cell phone batteries were relatively easily applied to automobiles. The fuelling infrastructure for hybrids was also in place, as hybrids run on traditional gasoline.
These factors made hybrids an economical way for manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of their models, the first game changing green car technology of this century.
Hybrids command a premium up-front cost; however, superior fuel efficiency will likely save you money over the life of the vehicle. How much you drive, the price of gas, and government incentives are factors in determining the breakeven point for a hybrid vs. a similar traditional model. Of course, cutting down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are benefits of increased fuel efficiency that cannot easily be expressed in dollars.
The hybrid still relies on an internal combustion engine, which leaves it vulnerable to emerging technologies: EVs and PHEVs will create competition in the next few years, and hydrogen fuel cell cars could eventually be a game-changing technology not just for transportation but energy in general. In time these technologies may prove superior to the hybrid both environmentally and financially. Today, though, the hybrid remains the king of green cars.
One hope for the hybrid to increase its environmental sustainability credentials is the development of second-generation ethanol.
Click the links below to check out some of the hybrid models currently available.
- Ford Fusion Hybrid
- Mercury Milan Hybrid