How to get the best out of your hybrid

Hybrid cars have greatly improved fuel economy over conventional cars. Connected to that fuel economy is the fact that hybrids put out fewer emissions as they burn less fuel, so the advantages are intertwined.

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Photo: CowGummy

A hybrid driver spends far less money at the petrol pump than a driver of a conventional car, particularly if they keep to a low speed when the electric motor does most of the work. Full hybrids or plug-ins save even more money on fuel than mild hybrids as they use the electric power more often.

One criticism of early hybrids is that they didn’t equal conventional cars in terms of power. Now, however, hybrid batteries have become much lighter – and reduced weight improves the fuel economy. The batteries also have a longer life and cost less than they used to.

There are still some ways to increase the miles per gallon in a hybrid car:

Keep your speed down
The faster you drive, the greater the aerodynamic drag on the vehicle. If you drive at 70mph the drag is almost double to driving at 50 mph.

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Photo: Ben McLeod

Use the cruise control
Every time you speed up, you’ll lose energy the next time you need to brake. Although with hybrids a lot of this energy is stored in the batteries through regenerative braking, you’re still wasting some energy in the process of accelerating and decelerating.

Don’t brake sharply
Anticipate when you’ll need to slow down and allow the electric motor to do it gradually. Otherwise with an abrupt stop, the brakes have to do the work and more energy is lost.

Adopting these simple driving techniques will improve your fuel economy significantly, and as an added bonus will probably result in you being a calmer driver with much more relaxed passengers!

 

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