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Mar 06

Hybrid Cars and the Environment

Hybrid cars are a source of confusion to many, and with little wonder. With some touting fuel efficiency and predicting dramatic improvements for the environment and others crying out against poisonous batteries and warning about a laissez-faire attitude, it can seem next to impossible to determine whether hybrid cars are really all they’re purported to be. The answer is yes, and no.

Are Hybrid Cars Really as Great As is Claimed?

No, hybrids are not really as great as they’re made out to be by their supporters. Discrepancies between advocates’ claims and actual performance have been duly noted by many. They include the fact that, despite manufacturers’ claims of fuel efficiency, most do not actually get the 60 plus miles to one gallon of gas that they are designed to attain. Also, some question whether the merits of clean emissions cars on the roads can outweigh the additional energy required to produce them. Because of these disagreements, some people are led to wonder whether hybrid cars are actually an improvement on other modes of transport.

Do Hybrid Cars Really Help the Environment?

Despite heated debates about many aspects of clean emissions cars, environmentalists agree that hybrids have a significantly reduced impact on the environment when compared with traditional vehicles. While they do still use gas, they supplement this with electricity, thereby releasing fewer pollutants into the air. Because of this two-fold energy use, hybrids have been proven to release reduced amounts of toxins like carbon monoxide or dioxide, lead, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxide. All of these emissions are linked to detrimental health and environmental effects, such as cancer, asthma, ozone depletion and acid rain.

Do Hybrid Cars Have Any Negative Effects on the Environment?

As their name suggests, hybrid cars do run on a combination of energy types, one of which is fossil fuel. Necessarily then, clean emissions cars, while displaying reduced environmental impact, are not entirely free of the negative effects of their traditional counterparts. However, perhaps the most serious concern is the potential effect of hybrid car batteries. In spite of efforts at battery recycling, some of the nickel metal hydride batteries used in hybrids are bound to end up in a landfill, where they contribute to leachate (liquid waste found in landfills) and pollute the environment. Many car manufacturers are currently working on other power sources to replace the batteries currently used in hybrids.

Should We Bother With Hybrid Cars?

While hybrid cars are not the final step to transportation nirvana, environmental research indicates that they are an improvement on other vehicles. Whatever non-environmental arguments are made, there is little question that hybrid cars reduce our impact on the environment, and that as the ratio of hybrid cars to traditional cars increases, the reduced amount of emissions will improve the cleanliness of the air we breathe and help to preserve the environment we depend on. Although there are some environmental concerns about hybrid cars, innovations will no doubt continue to be made to improve their eco-friendliness.

Hybrid cars, while not the ultimate solution to today’s environmental problems, have been proven to reduce the negative environmental impact of fuel-run vehicles. Choosing to drive a hybrid is one of many things that individuals can do to take care of the environment, and while the world of hybrid cars is not expected to change dramatically in the coming year, progress is expected to continue as awareness increases and new innovations are applied.

Author: Tom Henry is a freelance author who writes about automotive topics like auto insurance, clean emissions and fuel efficiency.


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