The rising cost of gasoline today has finally knocked some sense into the American automobile market. The absurd prices of gas may have taken the country unexpectedly but other countries have already been exploring the use of alternative fuel and more fuel-efficient cars. Brazil, for example has been using ethanol from corn since the 1970s when the Middle East embargo forced the country to consider other fuel options. They are now one of the world’s largest producers of ethanol.
Japan is also one of the leaders when it comes to the use of hybrid vehicles, even releasing designs and prototypes for a fully-automated electric vehicle. Majority of the automobiles that come from Japan and other Asian countries have the best fuel economy feature.
Unfortunately, the United States have been lagging behind in terms of alternative fuel use and fuel efficient cars. General Motors have been criticized for its very uneconomical automobile line but recently, they have released hybrid versions of their popular vehicle lines.
Hybrid vehicles have become very important in recent years not only in terms of the fuel crisis spanning the world but also of the environmental impact that it causes. Oil refineries are one of the world’s largest producers of air pollution and oil spills brought on by large tankers often kill diverse marine and aquatic plant life that has taken millions of years to evolve.
The use of Biodiesel and ethanol tried to solve this problem. Ethanol from corn is very popular but it can also be taken from other vegetable products. It produces considerably less air pollution and emission from the vehicle is almost zero. Environmentalists and biologists call it carbon neutral, the emission from ethanol refineries and vehicle emission equaling only to the nitrogen released into the atmosphere by the natural decay of corn and other vegetable product.
A hybrid vehicle uses an electric motor for power and combines that with an internal combustion engine. It increases fuel efficiency and causes less pollution. Depending on the type and model of the hybrid vehicle, it can save you at least 30 percent on fuel cost.
There are three types of hybrid vehicles using the following engine types:
* Mild hybrid engine – This engine type does not have an electric motor but have an oversized engine starter that will turn off the gas engine during coasting or braking but can instantly turn on when power is needed.
* Full hybrid engine – This engine types have an electric motor and a combustion engines that can work independently of each other.
* Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model – uses electricity from any wall outlets that can recharge the battery which acts as back-up for the internal combustion engine.
Why Drive a Hybrid?
Hybrid vehicles, aside from being fuel efficient and cost-effective, are also safe to drive at par with any gasoline-powered automobile. Hybrid vehicles are designed to be one of the safest cars in the market today with airbags and anti-lock brake systems. If alternative fuel, in the form of biodiesel or ethanol is used, the driver can cut further his fuel budget in a month.
Another point in driving a hybrid is the tax rebates made available to the US automobile-buying public. Some states in the US offer tax incentives, tax credits and tax breaks if you purchase a hybrid vehicle. This is part of the program of the government to encourage consumers to purchase cars that can help save the environment as well as solve the fuel crisis in the country.