The basics of plug-in hybrid vehicles

As more and more people start to seriously consider their car's fuel efficiency as well as their carbon footprint, hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z have become increasingly popular across Canada. But what exactly makes a plug-in hybrid so special, and why should you consider buying one as your next vehicle?

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What’s a hybrid?

Simply put, a hybrid vehicle is one that combines at least one electric motor with a gas-powered (or diesel) engine to move the car. A small battery recaptures kinetic energy produced by braking, which is then transferred back to the electric engine. The electric motor powers the vehicle until its battery is drained, at which point the gas-powered engine takes over, powering the car until the electric motor is fully recharged.

How are plug-in hybrids different?

Plug-in hybrids function in an almost identical manner, except the battery has a higher capacity. Much like all-electric vehicles, these batteries must be fully recharged using an external electricity source. For this, these cars come with a specialized adapter to plug in and recharge the battery. This larger capacity allows for increased all-electric driving, which can significantly reduce fuel consumption. Should this battery become depleted while on the road, the vehicle operates just like a regular hybrid.

What are some benefits of driving a plug-in hybrid?

The reason why more Canadians have begun to choose hybrids and plug-in hybrids over traditional gas-powered vehicles is fairly simple: their long-term fuel efficiency and limited environmental impact. Whether new or nearly new, a hybrid vehicle will likely cost more than a similar gas alternative. However, depending on the specific make and model of your hybrid car, this difference will likely be recouped within a five-year period based on the fuel savings alone.

Depending on where you live within Canada, there are several federal and provincial incentive programs set in place to encourage buyers to go hybrid. These types of programs help minimize the upfront difference in cost between hybrids and gas-powered vehicles, making it even more beneficial to choose a hybrid. Additionally, hybrids typically come with longer warranties than traditional gas cars—which essentially means that they’re likely to perform better for a more extended period.

Is it right for me?

Knowing whether or not a plug-in hybrid vehicle is the right choice for you ultimately comes down to your own driving habits. Do you live in a city or environment where you will be frequently starting and stopping? Do you know if your city or town is well-equipped with charging stations, so you can plug in your vehicle while on the go? What’s the cost of gas in your region? Is it higher or lower than the national average?

These types of questions will help you decide whether or not a hybrid vehicle will work for you. It’s safe to assume that more people will continue to gravitate towards hybrid and all-electric vehicles, so if they’re not popular in your area now, it might be in a few short years.

To browse more new and nearly new plug-in hybrid vehicles, visit Kijiji Autos today. Offering options at a wide range of prices, you’re sure to find something that will work perfectly with your lifestyle.

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