A Hybrid Future for Cars?
Since the first car became a reality in early 1900s, car makers and people all over the world have been working hard to introduce the sleekest car models, cars that have power, cars that boast of technological features and cars that use very little fuel. It is true to say that hybrid cars are a lot more than regular gasoline cars – not only because they use little fuel and are much more affordable to run and maintain but also because they are environmental friendly.
However, these benefits come with a cost as hybrid cars can be quite costly to buy. According to a research by Green Car, hybrid cars are a worthy investment, but it may not be a long term solution to high costs of car maintenance, environmental conservation and humans’ continuing desire for a perfect machine. Here is why.
- Risky metal hydride batteries
Most hybrid cars run on metal hydride batteries, which are very dangerous if a person is exposed to. In case of a crash, which frankly happens every day, the victims may survive the accidents then get killed by the batteries.
- High voltage is still a risk
The Prius runs on 200V power, which is double the electric current out of the power mains in your house. In case of an accident, there is a chance of electrocution which frankly is one of the scariest ways to die.
Hybrid cars are very heavy because the batteries they run on are heavy. Travelling efficiency has a lot to do with keeping the weight of the machine low to reduce inertia and to boost aerodynamics, but hybrid cars are not making huge strides in this regard yet.
If you buy a hybrid car now, even when there are government incentives and discounts to encourage people to buy them, it will still drill a hole in your wallet. A hybrid car now costs anything between $23,000 and $35,000 for a family sedan according to estimates by Cars Direct.
- Weather issue
Some car batteries have been criticized for failing to work in cold weather. What would be more disappointing than for your car to fail during winter? When this happens, the car will run on gas, and frankly because of its weight, it will use up more fuel than a standard gas car of similar form and size would.
- Rare earth elements
If you buy a hybrid car because you want to conserve the environment, I hate to burst your bubble but there is a chance that the rare earth objects that run the car may be causing a lot more damage to the environment than ordinary car emissions. According to HowStuffWorks, the lanthanum and neodymium that hybrid cars such as Toyota Prius uses in the car’s electric motor and are rare and can be very damaging to the environment if not properly disposed.
Some people buy cars because of power, and they like to hear how the engine roars and sounds life-like. Hybrid cars, unfortunately for this group of drivers, are very quiet – maybe too quiet. This can also be a downside for pedestrians who are often jolted to their senses by car vrooms.
- Car servicing
Most hybrids are designed to be compact, and can only be serviced by the manufacturer at this moment. This is because your usual mechanic may not have the skills and the tools to carry out routine servicing or repairs. This of course means it would cost more to service and it would be very inconveniencing if you have to drive to the manufacturer depot every time you want you hear a strange sound in the car.
With these issues, are hybrid cars really all that ‘revolutionary’? The best car is one that can run on little gas if any, but without making you feel like you are driving on an electric chair. I am certain manufacturers will work on ways to deal with these few issues to make hybrids better than they are today and drop their costs, but for now they are a step in the right direction but not a permanent workable solution.
James McDonnel contributed this guest post. James is an automotive enthusiast and a freelance writer.