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Are Hybrid Vehicles Really All That Environmentally Safe?

The difference between a regular vehicle and a hybrid vehicle is that hybrids have two motors – one is electric and one is gasoline-powered. Though hybrid vehicles do use gasoline when going at high speeds, city driving and stop-and-go traffic driving run off the electric motor, significantly reducing the amount of smog created by the exhaust.

Weighing the costs

Since hybrid vehicles are significantly more expensive than smaller vehicles with high gas miles per gallon, many wonder if they’re really all that better for the environment, and therefore worth the added cost. In short, yes, it is worth the cost. Even though insurance is more expensive (make sure to get an auto insurance quote before purchasing a hybrid), a hybrid vehicle only uses 75 cents per gallon, rates that haven’t been seen at the pumps in decades.

Environmental advantages

If everyone were to switch to a hybrid vehicle today, the health benefits it would provide to both humans and nature would be magnificent. Hybrid vehicles emit significantly less carbon dioxide than gas-powered vehicles, creating less pollution and causing less damage to valuable ecosystems. Traditional cars, on average, use 100 extra gallons of gasoline than hybrid cars for every 10,000 miles driven (according to the U.S. Department of Energy). They also produce less carbon dioxide per mile than regular cars.

Fossil fuels, or gasoline, are classified as nonrenewable energy. In other words, once we run out, we’re out. By using an electric motor, like that of a hybrid vehicle, we will diminish our dependency on fossil fuels and go through them at a much slower rate than if we were to rely on them solely.

Another important, environmentally friendly feature of hybrid cars is regenerative braking. The speed of the car is reduced by transferring the kinetic, or moving, energy into electricity that the battery can use. This allows brake pads to last longer, cutting down the usage of yet another disposable part.

The future of hybrids and the environment

As more and more people purchase hybrid vehicles, less pollution will be omitted into the air, which will offset the heavy amount of pollution that currently exits. Auto companies will continue to make more money from the sale of the hybrids, which will allow them to further advance the technology and make them even more environmentally friendly. If we don’t switch to hybrid or electric cars, the International Energy Agency predicts there will be no spare oil by the end of 2013 – meaning we will have to tap into different wells all over the world.

Not only are hybrid vehicles extremely beneficial to the environment, they are also the future of the automotive industry.

Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from personal finance to health and nutrition.