Hybrid vehicles have been affordable, popular and are now an established option for UK drivers. So should you buy one?
Hybrids combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor. They consume less fuel than conventional cars and emit less CO2 so there's an advantage in lower fuel costs for drivers—plus they are less harmful to the environment.
Many hybrid owners also benefit from lower first year road tax. As the government has set carbon emission guidance for councils, more and more local authorities are bringing in Clean Air Zones (CAZ) or Low Emission Zones (LEZ) where congestion charges in force (see list below).
Hybrid cars have a conventional engine, an electric motor and a battery. The most common sort is known as a 'parallel hybrid', this means that power comes from either the combustion engine, the electric motor alone, or a combination of both.
At lower speeds the electric motor powers the car, making it attractive for stop-start city driving. The petrol engine cuts in as speed increases, or when the driver accelerates hard.
A clever technical development in hybrid vehicles is 'regenerative braking'. When a driver decelerates or uses the brakes, hybrids generate power in the form of electricity that is stored in the battery for later use.
Around town a hybrid drives just like most conventional vehicles and its performance is similar.
Drivers have historically worried about the range or distance a hybrid can travel (a phenomenon known as 'range anxiety'). But since most hybrids don't need to stop and charge up—they charge their own batteries as they work—this fear is largely misplaced.
A hybrid vehicle comes into its own where the vehicle will be mainly powered by an electric battery: typically around town. You will benefit from low fuel costs if that's the way you work.
However, many taxi drivers clock up a lot of motorway or distance miles where an efficient diesel might be a better choice. Hybrids are less fuel-efficient for high-speed driving.
Modern, clean vehicles that comply with emission standards called Euro 6 are exempt from CAZ / LEZ charges. Euro 6 standard became mandatory for new diesel minibuses in September 2016.
The following towns and cities either have, or are planning to have, CAZ or LEZ: Aberdeen, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fareham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Reading, Sheffield, Slough, Warrington, York.
Call our advisers with your questions about hybrids: 01525 717695.