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July 6, 2003

What makes a Hybrid?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ryan Jones @ 12:00 am

Soron With gas prices ever increasing due to (rolls a 12 sided die..) “weather related issues”, many Americans are looking towards buying a hybrid as their next vehicle. But what exactly is a hybrid?

Sure we all know it’s a 1/2 gas 1/2 electric car with a battery that replenishes itself while braking right? Not so fast..

With Americans looking to save gas, auto makers have been quick to slap the hybrid label on just about anything with better gas mileage than last year’s model. Some of the cars being passed off as hybrids this year are merely just gas engines with batteries that re-charge themselves, but don’t actually power anything that a normal battery doesn’t.

Everybody’s trying to cash in on the hybrid craze, even the white house. Despite the 350 patents owned by Stan and Iris Ovshinsky (founders of ECD Ovonics) dating back to the 1960’s, the white house recently credited the department of energy for creating the batteries used in hybrids. If Al Gore can invent the internet, anything is possible I suppose.

Looking ahead to the new 2007 models however, there is one eerily consistant trend: it doesn’t take much to get that green hybrid label these days. Saturn, GMC and Chevy are about to release “hybrids” that don’t really stack up to the competition.

The typical Camry Hybrid has a 244-volt battery, Saturn’s upcoming Vue hybrid will include a whopping 36 volts, and doesn’t really do anything that a typical battery doesn’t already do, but it does get 20% better mileage than the standard SUV. Better fuel consumption? Sure. Hybrid? Probably not.

The old cliche says you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, and until there are some standard rules for calling oneself a hybrid, buyers should remember that it’s what’s inside that counts.

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