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Hybrids


Years ago, you could not go to a car lot and drive out off with a hybrid even if you had the entire payment in cash. The demand was so wild and so completely unanticipated that there just were not enough to go around. A waiting list, months long, was the closest you could get to a hybrid of your own.

So what is up with the craze for hybrids? Do they live up to the hype? Absolutely! And here are just a few reasons why:

- No plugs for this electric hybrid. Everyone assumes anything run by electricity needs to be plugged into an outlet to recharge. Not so with the hybrid, despite its electrical engine. Regenerative braking allows the energy that is usually lost when slowing down or braking to automatically be rerouted to the battery.

- No new batteries necessary. Unlike the batteries for your remote control or walkman, hybrid batteries do not need constant changing. Maintaining a charge between 40% and 60% will extend the life of the battery for up to 160,000 miles and beyond. Even if replacement were necessary, only a one cell out of hundreds would need replacing.

- Hybrids are based on a long history of development and technology. It started with steam, electric, and gasoline cars in 1900, and continued in 1905 when an American engineered the first hybrid vehicle. Hybrids are not new and are backed by a century of research, trials, and tests.

- Hybrids offer more than fuel efficiency. They also minimize impact on the environment, reduce need for oil, and identify you as someone who's on the cutting edge of technology.

- Hybrids are affordable. 2006 offers 10 hybrid models to choose from, for anywhere from under $20,000 to just over $50,000. The Insight, Civic, and Prius are the most efficient models and all of them are available for less than $30,000. By 2010, more than 50 different hybrid models are expected on the market, with a variety of sizes and prices rivaling that of conventional vehicles.

- Hybrids are a great deal. Though the insurance premiums are usually about $3,000, the substantial federal and state tax incentives, low cost of maintenance, and high resale value offsets the cost.

As the sales of hybrids rise in number, the need for gas and oil slowly begins to decrease. 200,000 hybrids were purchased last year of the 17 million cars sold, a small percentage but one that is rising all the time. But do not take our word for it. Find out for yourself.

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