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The Downside of Hybrid Vehicles

Despite its “go green” concept, the hybrid may not be as beneficial as everyone believes. Despite its “go green” concept, the hybrid may not be as beneficial as everyone believes.

Demands for cleaner air combined with the need for reduced oil consumption have prompted automakers to create the hybrid vehicle. Put simply, the hybrid combines a gasoline engine and an electric motor to provide adequate power with minimal fuel usage and low emissions. Hybrids save the car owner money on gas, as well as giving off fewer toxic fumes. Despite being labeled “the car of the future,” a downside to hybrid vehicles does exist.

 

Most of us are interested in protecting our planet and we’re glad that car manufacturers are searching for ways to reduce the automobile’s negative impact on the environment. The hybrid does have many advantages, but before you rush out to buy one, consider the potential disadvantages.

Cost

Expensive technology and high demand have boosted the price of hybrid vehicles. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 more than you would for a non-hybrid version of the same vehicle. The battery, although designed to last for years, may eventually need replacing. You are likely to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for a new battery, although manufacturers claim the price will drop as hybrids become more popular. Other parts may also be expensive to replace and you might have a tough time finding a mechanic who is familiar with working on hybrids.

Performance

Some critics complain that the engine’s design trades performance for efficiency. The Carnegie-Mellon report lists the 0-60 mph acceleration time for the Toyota Prius at 12.7 seconds, which is relatively slow for a new car. Though the hybrid car combines electric and gasoline engines together to get the best acceleration, you might be disappointed with the somewhat sluggish performance.

EMF – Electromagnetic Field

The National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute state that there are potential hazards of long-term exposure to strong electromagnetic fields (EMF). Studies have shown, using strength-testing instruments, that EMF levels of the hybrid exceed various international standards for safety. Hybrid-producing car companies, not surprisingly, downplay the risks. Chris Martin, a spokesman for Honda, points to the lack of a federally mandated standard for EMFs in cars and claims that most people use the wrong devices to test. Reports show that the results for EMF testing vary with regard to the testing equipment and procedure.

Obviously further research and testing is necessary before any conclusions can be drawn but it is wise to be on the safe side. A small number of drivers have reported getting ill after buying a Hybrid. Complaints range from falling asleep behind the wheel to experiencing high blood pressure. According to the World Health Organization’s International EMF project however, “despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health.”

The WHO is notorious for claiming that a residential magnetic field exposure limit of 833 mG is acceptable, while many experts say that long term exposure to anything above 3 mG could be hazardous to your health.

Whether or not hybrid vehicles are bad for your health or not, the fact remains not everything about them is positive. Arguments can definitely be made that the pros outweigh the cons, but shoppers would be wise to do research before they make their purchase.

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A brief overview of the pros and cons of hybrid vehicles.
Last modified on Monday, 15 October 2012 13:12

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