Photo: Courtesy Toyota
I have a confession: I don’t compost. I don’t always recycle plastic bags, and I probably take longer showers than I should. In fact, two weeks ago, I didn’t know what, exactly, a hybrid car really was.Check out the myths >
That all changed when I got to test drive the first of Toyota’s all-new, all-electric RAV4 EV and got schooled on the entire Prius family — the original Prius that made hybrids famous, the Prius C, V and even the Plug-In.
My time with Toyota made me think twice about traditional gas-powered cars. All the fears I’d always had about non-gas motored engines fell away as I learned about all the precautions and technology that went into these hybrids.
Which made me realise: Clearing up misconceptions about hybrids is crucial to getting people to realise, like I did, that there are plenty of ways to save energy in parts of your life where you won’t even notice the change. So, in an attempt to dispel any myths holding you back from going green, here are the 10 biggest misconceptions about hybrids.
This just blatantly isn't true. Anyone who's been behind the wheel of a hybrid knows that the number of technology systems (from the premium seven-inch display audio with navigation and eco-drive monitor in the Prius to the EV's eight-inch touchscreen that supplies navigation and telematics showing exactly how much power you're using) make these cars pretty fun to drive.
'People have begun to 'gamify' their driving habits,' says Gartsbeyn. 'The Prius has provided them with a number of different technology systems, and all of that becomes sort of a game to Prius drivers. They have tricks they talk about online. It's become a little community-discussion board.' Interested? Visit Prius Chat for a taste.
Considering that Toyota has sold over 1.2 million Priuses in the U.S -- and globally over four million hybrids -- this myth seems to be on the decline. Furthermore, for Prius C buyers, 84% of them are buying their first hybrid. And for Prius V, 70% are first-time buyers. 'It's not only about loyalty anymore,' says Gartsbeyn. 'EVs and plug-ins may be niche, but hybrids have moved more toward the mainstream.'
Thing is, you actually don't do anything differently when driving a hybrid than you would a regular gas-engine car. There is no behavioural change required, because you don't have to make any decisions -- the car just knows what the most efficient use of the power source is. Boom.
Hybrids are offered in the full range of sizes, shapes and costs. Take Toyota's Prius family as an example: The original Prius starts at $24,000, the new Prius C is the most affordable at $18,950, the Prius V starts at $26,550, and the Plug-in Prius starts at $32,000.
While rechargeable batteries, electric motor and sophisticated computer controls do add to the cost of producing a hybrid car, as production numbers increase, economies of scale are reducing those costs.
Of all Toyota Prius models sold in the last 12 years, 98% are still on the road today. While it's usually the battery that makes drivers nervous, the fact that most of the models bought in 2000 are still on the road speaks volumes. 'It speaks highly of the brand and it's helped us reassure our customers getting into the other hybrids that we know what we're doing,' says Gartsbeyn.
A hybrid car, by definition, runs on two or more power sources -- electric and gas -- so that when the electric runs out, the gas will take over. The technology is called regenerative braking, where the energy that is usually lost when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping is reused and routed to the hybrid's rechargeable batteries. Most hybrid cars run on a combination of both gas and electricity, with the ability to decide for itself what the most efficient use of the power source is.
So you still fill your hybrid car up with gas -- it just uses less of it due to the regenerative braking technology. 'Put gas in it and it will operate in the most efficient means possible using the different power sources. You don't have to plug it in to get that efficiency. There's no behaviour change with hybrids,' says Gartsbeyn.
But in recent years, the hybrid car industry has expanded to include plug-in hybrids and pure electric cars -- and those do require recharging. Take Toyota's all-new gas-free SUV, the EV, for example; you plug it in overnight and all your driving can be done without burning a single drop of gas.
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