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Benefits of a Hybrid Car

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 28 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Hybrid Car Petrol Consumption Emissions

It may come as a surprise to know that the first petrol-electric hybrid car appeared in 1900. It was the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, developed by an Austro-Hungarian engineer, Ferdinand Porsche.

The car made its debut at the Paris World Fair. It combined Daimler internal combustion engines with a battery. Using just the battery, it could run for about 40 miles.

For the rest of the twentieth century, hybrid vehicles regularly appeared. There were hybrid buses and racing cars. And in 1917, the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago marketed the first commercially available hybrid car. Drivers, however, found the vehicle slow, while mechanics had trouble maintaining it. The car never caught on.

Following this, many engineers and car makers, Audi among them, experimented with hybrid vehicles. But it was Toyota who created the first mass-produced hybrid, the Prius. It is available today.

Petrol Consumption

The petrol consumption of a hybrid is significantly better than that of equivalent non-hybrid cars. It’s possible to achieve 72 mpg from the latest model of Prius. The newest version of the Honda Civic Hybrid has an mpg of 61.4.

These figures compare with 36.7 mpg for a new Ford Focus 1.6i Duratec petrol with auto transmission.


Lower petrol consumption goes hand-in-hand with lower CO2 emissions. For the Prius, these are 89 g/km, and for the Civic Hybrid, 109 g/km.

As a guide, the emissions from a 1.6 TSI Volkswagen Golf are 144 g/km.


Many drivers are concerned that hybrids such as the Prius and the Civic lack power. But hybrids certainly don’t lack speed.

The Prius can travel 0 - 62 mph in 10.4 seconds. And the car’s maximum speed is 111.78 mph.

The Civic Hybrid can reach 115 mph, and goes from 0 – 62 mph in 12.1 seconds.

These figures are very respectable levels of performance. Hybrids can certainly match the standards of many petrol or diesel mid-range saloons.

Road Tax

The UK road tax system rewards vehicles that have low emissions. Hybrids lead the way in this area. Drivers of new standard model Prius and Civic Hybrid cars pay nothing.


In comparison to non-hybrid cars, the Prius and Civic Hybrid can appear expensive. Toyota and Honda are no doubt happy to justify their prices to potential customers. But from an objective view, it’s interesting to note the high level of luxury items both manufacturers provide as standard. Such features as climate control air conditioning can put the price of a hybrid car in perspective.

Test Drive

As with any car, however, the way to really see if it’s a good buy is to arrange a test drive. After all, cars are often a matter of personal taste. Even so, hybrids have distinct benefits that may influence a purchasing decision.


Across the world, Toyota has sold more than 2 million hybrids to date. Honda has sold more than 300,000, and Ford more than 120,000.

With other companies entering the hybrid car market, overall sales are likely to grow rapidly. Volkswagen and Porsche, among others, intend to help meet the increasing demand.

(All car specification figures given here have come from the manufacturers’ official websites.)

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