Disadvantage of Hybrid Cars

by Robert Vaux

For all their benefits and for all the good things they can do for the environment, hybrid cars are not perfect. Their technology is still being improved, and while they may pave the way for the future, experts believe they will eventually be overtaken by hydrogen or methane powered vehicles. In the meantime, it pays to be aware of the drawbacks of hybrid cars and to measure them against the tangible benefits that come from owning them.

Added Sticker Price

The first and most obvious disadvantage of a hybrid car is that it costs more than a normal car. Its design is more complex and requires additional cost during production, which is passed on to the consumer. Generally speaking, a new hybrid runs about $4,000 to $6,000 more than a comparable non-hybrid model. Granted, the added fuel economy means you'll probably save more than that over the life of the car, but it still bears mentioning for buyers on a budget.

Higher Repair Costs

In addition to the cost of production, hybrid cars contain components--most notably the battery and the power train--which are difficult to replace or repair. Not only are they more expensive, but many mom-and-pop mechanic shops aren't set up to handle hybrid components. Repairs must thus be conducted at the dealer's lot and are likely to run higher in order to cover more expensive components. Also, because the components are more complicated, they may break down more often, which further contributes to repair bills. Many times, the manufacturers will offer extended warranties in order to countermand this (especially for the battery). Ask the dealer about the specifics if you are shopping for a hybrid.

Performance

Hybrid cars don't perform demonstrably worse then other cars in many areas, and in fuel economy they can't be beat. However, their acceleration remains an issue: they simply can't get up to speed with the same briskness that gasoline cars can. This is rarely of any huge consequence while driving on surface streets, but for freeway driving, it can be a concern.

Dangers in Accidents

Hybrid car batteries are much more powerful than the batteries on normal cars. Sometimes, when there is an accident and the battery is damaged, it can complicate efforts to free people from the trapped car. The voltage running through the battery is very high, which can injure the driver or anyone coming to help... making accidents a greater hazard even if you emerge from the collision unhurt.

Production Concerns

From an ecological standpoint, hybrid cars make a lot of sense. However, since their components take longer to manufacture, they occur additional costs on the assembly line... meaning that the factories produce more pollution when creating them than they might if they were making a normal car. Experts believe that the reduction in carbon emissions from hybrid cards readily exceeds the added pollution of the assembly line, but it still mitigates the strongest argument in favor of buying one: a healthier environment.