So you want an eco-friendly car but electric vehicles are outside your price range? Hybrids come in an ever-broadening range of options and price points and offer scads of environmental benefits.
There’s no shortage of news extolling the many eco-advantages and next big development in electric vehicles – or EV’s, but for many of us, they are still too expensive to realistically consider. Then there’s what’s been dubbed ‘range anxiety’ – the fear your EV will run out of juice mid-drive (it’s one thing to be inconvenienced by a flat phone, but a flat car is a whole different ball game!)
However, there is an alternative that offers many of the environmental benefits with a range of price points from just under $30,000 (some even clocking in only $1500 more than the fully petrol-powered version.) Regardless of your preferred type of car, hybrids now come in everything from a tiny city car to a hulking great 4WD hybrid. And if you’re looking for luxury and only put off by the possibility of being stranded sans power, there is a Porsche clocking in just under a cool half million.
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Hybrids run on a mix of electricity and fuel, and the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia report there are two main hybrid types available in Australia – full and plug-in hybrids. A full hybrid has a petrol engine and a battery-powered electric motor (this motor heavily assisting the engine, charging it through regenerative braking.) The plug-in can be charged using a power socket – even one in your home – but can only drive around 60kms using this power, the petrol engine kicking in when you run dry and recharging the battery as you go. *
Hybrid sales are skyrocketing
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reported Australian sales of petrol-electric hybrid vehicles jumped 54% to 30,641 in 2019 – this represents 3.5% of the total market** Carsales.com.au report research by JP Morgan suggests hybrid cars will represent a whopping 23% of all vehicles sold worldwide as soon as 2025.
Toyota, the leading supplier of hybrid vehicles in Australia, has clocked up more than 100,000 Prius sales since they first went on sale Down Under in 2001. They also offer the broadest range of hybrids – including the hybrid RAV4s, Camry’s, Corolla’s – both hatch and sedan, with a further two models to be added to the model line-up by the end of 2020. Toyota’s historic sales data shows:
- Their hybrid sales exceeded 20,000 vehicles in 2019 – almost doubling the 2018 figures (11,590).
- 2019 sales jumped to 10% of Toyota’s total sales up from 5.3% in 2018 and 3.9% in 2017.
- Corolla has become the most popular hybrid vehicle in Australia, with 2,957 sales so far this year, edging ahead of Camry on 2,298 sales.
- Hybrids account for almost half of all Camry sales this year (45.4%), and Hybrid Corollas at 31.4% of 2019 sales.
Are hybrids really that good for the environment?
Hybrid vehicles have had a huge impact on the environment, as well as their owner’s hip pocket, emitting less CO2 than a traditional petrol combustion engine while being far more fuel-efficient.
“An owner of today’s Camry Ascent Sport Hybrid can achieve savings of more than $800* and reduce CO2 emissions by almost 1.3 tonnes* every year, so the total economic and environmental savings from 100,000 hybrids are huge,” says Sean Hanley, Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia.
How you drive your hybrid will impact how much you ultimately save in terms of petrol and the planet. Typically, the electric motor kicks in during slow-speed or urban driving, while higher speeds and longer distances mean your petrol or diesel engine will be powering more of your journey.
That said, your hybrid’s electric motor provides additional power when you’re powering up a steep hill, accelerating to overtake, or moving through stop-start traffic, meaning it lightens the overall load for the petrol/ diesel engine along the trip.
So in short, those who do a lot of short drives with plenty of stop-start traffic and urban speed limits (or longer drives in urban areas with your battery charged up and ready to go for plug-in varieties), will find owning a hybrid means pushing far fewer carbon emissions into the air. Not to mention spending a lot less at the pump – which in today’s environment of skyrocketing petrol prices is practically an immediate return on investment***
Words by Melanie Hearse
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