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Top^Hybrid - what is it?
A hybrid is a vehicle that uses two or more sources of power.
In a passenger car, this usually means an internal combustion engine such as a petrol unit that works in conjunction or alongside with an electric motor.
The aim is to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Top^What shapes and sizes to hybrids come in?
Hybrid vehicles are spreading in every vehicle category.
The first ones were small-car based, but since the mid 2000s hybrid vehicles coul be found in the Medium Large and Upper Large (prestige and luxury) segments, as well as in Luxury SUVs like the Lexus RX 400h.
Hybrid technology has since started to spread to mainstream passenger car line-ups, with the Honda Civic Hybrid being one of the first to go down the hybrid road.
Top^What are the benefits of driving or owning a hybrid vehicle?
Hybrid vehicles use less fuel and do not pollute the atmosphere as much as a regular internal combustion engine.
Hybrid vehicles are especially worthwhile if you live in the city or in a congested area, since many hybrid vehicles have an engine cut-out switch at idle to conserve fuel and cut emissions, while low-speed commuting often leads to a hybrid vehicle using its regenerated electricity stored in its battery packs.
Hybrid vehicles are also extremely fashionable, and good for one's social standing among environmentalists.
Some hybrids have had a strong resale value rating.
Top^What are some hybrid disadvantages?
Hybrid vehicles can be expensive to buy.
Hybrid vehicles are often heavier and more complex than their combustion engine counterpart.
Hybrid vehicles have heavy battery packs that are reportedly difficult to dispose of cleanly and environmentally.
Some hybrid vehicles have tiny boots or shallow hatches because of all the related battery packs that need to be stored in there.
Hybrid vehicles have not been as dynamically satisfying to drive as some regular vehicles.
Hybrid vehicles may end up costing a lot of money to maintain when they grow old.
Top^What are some of the popular hybrid models available?
The hybrid that started it all - the Toyota Prius - continues to sell very strongly. People respond to that car's unusual styling, that advertises the fact that the person behind the wheel is environmentally aware.
Honda had less success with its hybrid models until recently.
The Civic Hybrid was criticised in some quarters for being too similar to its petrol-powered brethren, while the Insight - the first hybrid to be sold in Australia, from early 2001 to 2004 - was a wacky two-seater with a tiny boot and a huge price tag. That tanked without a trace.
Lexus has had plenty of interest in its hybrid powered GS sports sedan hybrid, LS Upper Luxury sedan hybrid and RX Luxury SUV hybrid
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