Are Hybrid Cars Actually Bad for the Environment?

Author // NPR Car Talk
Posted in // Honda civic hybrid battery life, Honda insight mileage, Hybrid vehicles

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Environmentally conscious people and frugal shoppers alike tout hybrid cars as both better for the environment and for the wallet. However, there are people who doubt just how environmentally friendly they actually are. The impact that hybrid cars have doesn’t begin and end on the road — it begins in production and ends when the battery’s life ends. The truth about how environmentally friendly batteries in hybrid cars are is a little more nuanced than you think.

The Problem
The problem with the assumption that batteries in hybrid cars are only better for the environment is that it’s a faulty one. Sure, hybrid batteries release about 25% to 35% less harmful emissions into the environment, but it’s important to remember that the production of them actually puts out emissions as well. In fact, some argue that the efforts it takes to produce hybrid batteries is more than that of traditional batteries. Additionally, what about all the hybrid batteries in landfills?

How Hybrids Function
The reason that hybrids are better for the environment than traditional cars — and why hybrid fuel economy is so impressive — is all in the way they function. Put very simply, hybrid cars don’t burn gas fuel the entire time they’re running like traditional internal combustion engine vehicles do. Hybrids run from two power sources: one is gas fuel and the other is the electric battery which recharges when the driver applies the brake. This makes hybrids about 20-35% more fuel efficient than other vehicles.

Sustainable Options
Though hybrid batteries do fail, there don’t all end up taking up space in landfills. Options for hybrid battery replacement are increasing in number, and hybrid batteries can be recycled, just like batteries in cell phones and laptops can be recycled. Hybrid batteries can also be reconditioned or remanufactured, so it’s not like if they fail they’re useless and immediately get dumped in the trash.

Do you have any thoughts about whether hybrid vehicles are good or bad for the environment? Feel free to join the discussion in the comments section below.

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