Hybrid cars are obviously more efficient and more eco-friendly than conventional vehicles powered by gasoline, as they are powered by an electric motor, in addition to an internal combustion engine. The electric powertrain helps improve the car’s fuel economy, and reduce emission levels. This is why hybrids are considered to be a better option than conventional cars for those who want to save money on gas and help reduce air pollution. But, as with all other vehicles, hybrid vehicles’ fuel economy is not the same when driving in the city and on the highway. While gasoline-powered cars are more efficient on the highway, hybrids get better mileage and emit less harmful gases when driving in the city.
This is what a study that was recently conducted by Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University revealed. Researchers found that hybrid vehicles don’t provide too many benefits for the environment when driving on the highway, and they burn much more fuel than in urban areas. Jeremy Michalek, a professor of mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy at CMU, said: “We found that for highway drivers, hybrid and plug-in vehicles cost more without much benefit to the environment.” He went on to say: “But for drivers who experience a lot of idling and stop-and-go traffic, a hybrid could lower lifetime costs by 20 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions in half.” This is mainly because of the electric motors that power hybrid vehicles, which are more efficient in stop-and-go traffic, thanks to the regenerative braking system. This is a system that helps recover the energy that is lost during stops. The system recaptures the energy and stores it in the car’s battery. This means that the more starts and stops a hybrid car makes, the more energy it recovers. The energy that is recovered can only give the car a couple of extra miles, which means that you can not complete your commute if the engine does not kick in and provide additional power.
What these findings suggest is that it will take much more time for hybrid vehicle owners who commute to work, to make up for the hybrid’s higher purchase price, than for those who live in an urban area and don’t need to get out on the highway to get to work. This a very important finding, considering that the average hybrid is significantly more expensive than the average gasoline-powered car, and many people buy hybrids because it allows them to save a lot of money on gas.
In addition to being less efficient, hybrids are also less eco-friendly on the highway. When traveling at higher speeds, their gasoline engine is activated, resulting in increased fuel consumption, and consequently, increased amounts of CO2 emissions that the car releases.
With all these facts in mind, it’s no surprise that fuel economy of most hybrids doesn’t improve on the highway, which is not the case with conventional cars that are much more fuel-efficient when they are out on the open road, moving at high speeds, avoiding those stop-and-go situations.