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Are hybrid cars really better for the environment?

The question of whether hybrids really are better for the environment is a simple one to answer. But a straightforward “yes” only really tells half the story.

There are lots of complicating factors to bear in mind if you’re looking to make a truly informed choice of new car that will simultaneously benefit – or at least harm least of all the options – the environment.

But to start with hybrids, it’s unequivocally true that regulated emissions are reduced significantly when comparing a petrol hybrid car with a conventionally-powered petrol car. There are significant reductions in carbon monoxide, in hydrocarbons and in Nitrogen Oxide of anywhere between 70% and 90%.

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Also, hybrids reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% or more compared with a petrol-only equivalent vehicle.
And as conventional engine technology improves, with manufacturers including Honda playing a key role in this, this will still pose no competitive “environmental” market-led threat to hybrids as they will always outperform the petrol-only equivalent cars as even the improved conventional engine can still be ‘hybrid-ised’.

What looks more likely in practice over the longer term is that all car engines will become hybrids to a greater or lesser extent and this will be a major step forward for the environment. There’ll be lots of shouting and political-cum-business infighting along the way, but this is the way things are going.

But hybrids still do give off some emissions unlike their electric-only competitors. And the ranges on electric cars are getting longer almost by the day. Each time a major motor show comes around; the world’s biggest car makers are keen to show off their electrical vehicle know-how.

For those of us that must balance practicalities with environmental; concerns though – all-electric cars remain just out of realistic grasp for the time being. So the best new car offers on hybrid vehicles remain the best environmental and practical choice for now.

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