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Hybrid cars

The phrase “green car” doesn’t reference a shiny new paint job. Green cars come in all shapes and colours, but they have one thing in common: they’re all environmentally friendly.

Submitted 3/9/2006 By rachelhiggi Views 73246 Comments 7 Updated 5/5/2006

Photographer : Lance McCord

The standard’s story

Standard emission cars (like the car you or most people you know drive) run on a large, petrol fuel internal combustion engine. While this engine is powerful, it emits harmful toxins like carbon dioxide into the air. The carbon dioxide then traps heat in the atmosphere. The emissions from millions of cars worldwide have led to the increase in global warming in recent decades.

An electrifying alternative

To reduce global warming and pollution, as well as to combat high petrol prices, some people have turned to electric cars. Electric cars produce no gaseous emissions. Instead, they work on a battery-powered engine. However, the batteries must be recharged every 80–160 km, which can be very inconvenient.

What is a hybrid car? A compromise!

The hybrid car, perhaps the most popular alternative auto, runs on a combination of one small battery-powered engine, and one small petrol-fuelled engine.

How does it work?

When you’re driving on the freeway in a hybrid car, the petrol engine is working. When you’re stuck in a traffic jam or at a stop light, the petrol engine shuts off, and the battery engine takes over. This way, your car isn’t spewing nasty emissions while you’re stopped. Every time you brake, the heat from the car helps the batteries recharge.

Both the petrol and the battery engines in a hybrid work at accelerating and decelerating on steep hills. This is how the hybrid maintains the power and efficiency of a standard, but keeps cities cleaner (and your wallet fatter) at the same time.

More designing wonders

The hybrid is as petrol-efficient on its exterior as it is under its hood. Hybrids are sleeker and lighter to reduce wind drag. They are more aerodynamic so they can drive faster without as much wind resistance, which decreases the amount of petrol the car uses.

Where can you get one?

There are currently only two models of hybrid cars available in Australia: the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius. A 4-door Civic Hybrid is priced from $29,990. A 5-door hatch Prius starts at $36,500. The batteries are designed to last 8–10 years, but could be less in hotter environments like Australia.

Could there be even MORE incentives?

Not for now, at least. Some countries offer tax breaks or rebates for hybrid car owners in order to spark interest and encourage sales. However, Warren Truss, the Federal Minister for Transport and Regional Services, has stated the government currently has no plans to offer such incentives.

How do I know this?

Australia, House of Representatives, ‘Low-emission hybrid-engine vehicles’ in Questions in Writing, from

Australian Consumer’s Association, Hybrid Cars,, Tax breaks for gas savers,

Carpoint Australia, The Hidden Price of Hybrid Cars,

Clean Air Initiative, Global—Alternative fuels and energy sources,

Department of Transport and Regional Services,

Eartheasy, Hybrid Cars,

How Stuff Works, How Hybrid Cars Work,,

Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia, Hybrid Cars,

Discuss Now

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RebeccaS 03-Apr-2008

I think hybrid cars are a great idea for a 'community car.' These cars can be used on uni campuses and used for shared trips between students who don't have access to a car. Car pooling is a good way to save fuel (if there are no other means of transport e.g. walking, biking, ect.)...and car pooling in a hybrid car is even better!



CMatloub 26-Mar-2008

I don't understand why the government isn't even considering incentives! Did they give any reasons at all???



Shelleyw 06-Nov-2006

Check out this story from Triple J's Hack about Electric Cars - they talk to an electric car owner and importer and also discuss the issue with Jim Lloyd, the Federal Minister of Local Government, Territories and Roads.



Grant's Profile 10-Oct-2006

Speaking of electric cars - there's a film coming out soon called Who Killed the Electric Car that looks at the success and demise of the EV1 in California.

Electric cars are developing rapidly - one case in point is the Tesla Roadster:

The first Tesla car is expensive, and really only suitable for those with the money to spend on a nice car like that, but they are planning a much cheaper second model to be released in the next year or two.

There also seems to be a move towards electric/high-efficiency diesel hybrids that show even greater fuel savings and emissions reductions.



beetlebase 13-May-2006

Yah. Good points. I'd like to believe that hybrid cars offer a real, sustainable alternative, but unfortunately i think the market imperatives simply mean they will never fulfil environmentally-consious-consumer standards. Dominic's point about the lifespan are a case in point - what IS made to last longer than 8 years these days? Practically nothing.

Besides which, they're only environmental-alternatives for the wealthy in advanced democracies. So in addition I'd suggest a major challenge is how to make this technology available to all people - not just those 'consumers' best positioned within the global economy to reduce their impact on the environment...

I still reckon the best alternative is to advocate use of pushbikes and lobby - like you guys have suggested!