I remember many years ago while stopping at traffic lights I often wondered to myself how good it would be if the engine can turn itself off. I personally know of people who actually turn their engine off to save fuel! This is false economy as it takes more fuel than you would save when starting the vehicle again.
Well today the hybrid vehicle does it as a matter of course and not only that - it saves energy from braking to release when required and turns the engine off when cruising as well.
Just how good is the Hybrid car when compared to a standard vehicle?
1) Fuel Economy
A well maintained Generation one Prius ( 1997 - 2000 ) still return 20 - 22 Kms to the litre (4.5L/100Kms) This is after clocking up more than 200,000 Kms on the odometer! A standard vehicle would have loss so much compression that it's fuel economy would have deteriorated at least 25% from new.
You can still purchase a good used Generation one Prius for $6000. If you are currently spending $100 on fuel a week, you could save $2500 a year. This means recouping the cost of your purchase within 3 years at the most. This savings alone should sway thinking people towards purchasing a used hybrid, especially if you have to drive good distances going to and from work.
Generation two Prius (NHW11) are even more economical and Generation three (NHW20) even better still.
2) Internal Combustion Engine
This engine shuts off when not required. This means that the odometer reading does not represent the actual wear and tear as an engine in a conventional car. My guess is that if we half the odometer reading it would represent the actual wear and tear when compared to a conventional car.
The engine oil in a vehicle that has done 150,000 kms, is still golden a month after an oil change. This means that the piston rings are still intact.
3) Starts every time
One thing I noticed was that the hybrid car will start every time as long as the HEV battery and 12 volt battery are in good working order.
In 12 year old conventional vehicles starting is always questionable as it depends on the state of the 12 volt battery, the starter motor, the alternator, the idling, the timing chain and the distributor. Most of these components are not used in the hybrid car - Less parts to go wrong therefore starts every time.
4) Smooth Quiet and vibration free ride
Although it can best be described as medium saloon, It drives like a large saloon. The combination of the electric engine and the petrol engine contributes to this smooth ride. Being quiet and vibration free adds to the comfort of driving a hybrid.
5) Brakes pads
Regenerative braking recovers the energy from braking which are then stored in the batteries for reuse. This means that the brake pads are not used in normal braking. Most hybrids even at 150,000 Kms still have their original set of brake pads.
6) Spark Plugs
I have personally taken a set of spark plugs out of a car that has done 150,000 Kms. The gap was so large that it stopped firing in one cylinder.
All this goes to show that cost of mechanical maintenance is much lower than a conventional vehicle.