Hybrids explained

16 June 2008
Toyota Prius

Hybrid power
As used in:
Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Lexus RX450h & LS600h, with many more to come.

What is it? A car with two power sources, usually a petrol engine and an electric motor, though diesel hybrids are being developed, too.

Where can I buy it? Hybrids use unleaded, so any petrol station.

Pros: Hybrids have better fuel economy and lower emissions than purely petrol-powered models. There are tax advantages; and they are easy to refuel.

Cons: There is only a limited choice of models – and these are generally pricey. The major fuel economy savings are achieved in town only and hybrids have a limited range when powered only by an electric motor.

Expert view: Hybrid cars will be an increasingly attractive alternative to conventional vehicles.

Outlook: They will almost certainly bridge the gap between the current generation of cars and zero-emission vehicles in 10 or so years. Forthcoming diesel hybrids can only enhance their appeal.

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