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Purchasing a Hybrid

It seems like everyone's getting a hybrid car these days, from movie stars in California to Aunt Deborah in Kansas. What's the big deal with hybrid cars, anyway? And why should you buy one?

Hybrid cars offer several advantages over conventional cars. Are these reasons enough to convince you to buy one? That's up to you.

To begin with, a hybrid car is one that uses a combination of energy sources to propel it. The most common grouping includes an electric motor, a gasoline internal combustion engine, and a battery that stores energy and provides power to the electric motor.

Hybrid cars are built with much smaller, more efficient engines than regular cars. Most of the time, you don't need the extra power afforded by the larger engine, anyway. For those times when you do need a little boost, the battery provides the power.

In addition, these cars are built with lightweight materials and use a high-tech aerodynamic design. All of this makes for a more energy-friendly vehicle.

What does all this mean to you?

For starters, better gas mileage. The savings will depend on the particular model. Also, you can drive many more miles with a hybrid car without having to refuel, compared to some other newer energy-efficient cars.

Hybrid car owners can also save money on their taxes. You might be able to claim a federal income tax credits.
Fueleconomy.gov offers more information on these tax incentives.

Most states offer some sort of financial benefit to hybrid car owners, too. HybridCars.com offers a listing of current state policies, but check with your state for additional details and updates.

Driving a hybrid car could also give you a pass to use the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in your state, even alone―provided that your model's fuel efficiency rating meets the required standards. This is up to your state, so check the rules before you do it.

Hybrid cars drive like an ordinary car, albeit more quietly. They score just as high in safety ratings, too.

Don't worry about recharging the battery, either. The battery does this on its own by recovering braking energy. And despite the car's sophisticated machinery, hybrid cars don't cost more to maintain than a conventional car. Plus, some manufacturers are offering generous warranties on their hybrids.

A hybrid's efficient engine and design means it emits far fewer toxic fumes than regular cars, thus impacting the environment much less.

And of course, every gallon of fuel saved means we can reduce our reliance on foreign oil suppliers by just that much more.

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