Talking about Hybrid-Electric / Duel Fuel Cars

Information To Get You Started When It Comes To Talking About Hybrid-Electric cars:

Click4Warranty car warranty customers may be interested in finding out more about the new generation hybrid cars before making a decision on their next choice of vehicle...

As fuel costs continue to soar not only in the UK but around the world, more and more of us, and here we don't just mean the British shopper, are exploring the option of buying an electric or hybrid-electric car. The push for "Green" has also led to some consumers wanting to get away from high-polluting fuel-guzzling 4wd's and V6 or V8 Aston Martins and Bentleys.

Until very recently, hybrid-electric cars were really ugly with unflattering lines. The hybrid cars of old were actually less fuel-efficient than many well-built diesels and to some small extent, many still are. I drive a Fiat Stilo JTD and my best friend drives a Renault Megane 1.5dti and both achieve better fuel consumption figures than the 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. This situation is now changing, thanks to the relentless advance of technology, and in fact, there is a lot of talks currently about the death of diesel.

Hybrid cars have been the option for battery-assisted car buyers for several years, however, later this year, Brits will be able to place orders for the first fully electric car, TH!NK city. With this new development, it seems likely that more fully electric car models are not that far from being available to the great British public.
Let's take a quick look at the introduction of the Hybrid car. The first that car will come to most minds is the Toyota Prius:
  • The Toyota Prius:
  • The Toyota Prius started out as the new ugly duckling of the motoring world! It did have this space-age look at the rear and today that look is all but gone. The Prius is not a cheap car to buy with its current 'Hybrid Synergy Drive' form with significant body changes has been available since 2003. The Prius combines the low-speed torque of an electric motor with the high-speed efficiency of a petrol combustion engine. The economy is quoted as being around 65 mpg, but unless you drive like you aim to single-handedly save the planet this is not likely to be achieved easily, however, the economy is still better than most diesels of a similar size and even some superminis.
  • The Honda Civic IMA:
  • was first seen in 2003. Possibly around the 3rd most eco-friendly car! Now under the new name of the Honda Civic Hybrid it is even more efficient and more powerful. It uses the electric motor-generator to assist with power delivery to the cars motor while accelerating gently and then switches off until it once again provides marginal assistance while cruising on level roads. The true range one can get from a tank of petrol is lower than the manufacturers suggested 720 miles per tank, but thanks to some clever technology the batteries are charged while braking. The Honda Civic Hybrid also benefits its owners by a low insurance group, cheap road tax, low emissions and like all hybrids is still exempt from London's Congestion Charge. The vehicle also switches itself off when you come to a stop and magically restarts when you take your foot off the brake pedal. The Honda hybrid system is covered by Honda for 8 year manufacturer's warranty!
  • Peugeot's Duel Fuel Hybrid 308:
  • Peugeot's first-ever diesel-electric hybrid engine (in fact the world's first production diesel-electric hybrid engine) could return as much as 80+ miles per gallon. Peugeot hopes to make this vehicle the most fuel-efficient car in its class, ensuring it qualifies for a no-charge tax disc as well as exemption from London's increasingly expensive and ever-expanding congestion charge zone. This vehicle is propelled by a 1.6-litre turbo diesel, as well as a high-voltage battery pack and powerful electric motor. Like the Honda Civic this model will also the get stop/start technology - which cuts the engine when stationary in traffic - and a semi-auto gearbox. Currently I am unable to confirm a production model is for sale, but according to Peugeot's website "not only does our 308 hybrid use 38% less fuel in the combined cycle than our standard 308 Hdi - it's quicker off the mark too!" You just can't buy one yet it seems.
  • The Lexus RX 400h:
  • Lexus has an excellent reputation for both reliability and builds quality in the motor industry. Much of its hybrid technology has been tested through the Toyota Prius according to reports. The battery and hybrid system is covered by a 5 year warranty and is relatively maintenance-free as moving parts we kept to a minimum during extensive development. Like its rivals, the Lexus has four-wheel drive, but in this instance, the petrol engine drives only the front wheels and the car has two electric motors to help out. One powers the rear wheels when necessary, while a second electric motor assists the petrol engine when full acceleration is needed.
Although the manufacturers are so confident in the new technology that they are able to offer such long warranty periods for hybrid vehicles, these obviously will not last forever. As yet little is known about what and how much will go wrong with any of these new eco-friendly vehicles once the warranty has expired, so buyers would be wise to protect themselves with an extended car warranty.

A New Breed Of Eco-Friendly Cars:

There are many more petrol-hybrid / petrol-electric cars on the market; then there are those using LPG or Liquid Petroleum Gas and other "eco-fuels" to run their engines. Other worthy contenders although not hybrid-powered are the new Super-Eco Vehicles such as the:
  • • Golf TDI Hybrid
  • • Mercedes BlueHYBRID
  • • Porsche Panamera
  • • BMW X5 Hybrid
  • • Lexus GS-450h Hybrid

Strong Eco-Friendly Vehicle Sales 2006 - 2007:

Sales data demonstrates the strong growth in consumer demand for cleaner cars. Cleaner cars are the fastest-growing segment in the UK in terms of car sales. Hybrid car sales have doubled in 12 months. UK markets are on pace to purchase nearly 15,000 hybrid cars during 2008 even though the latest reports show a decline in growth for this sector so far during mid-2008; mainly because of the global economic slowdown as a result of rising fuel prices worldwide. Electric car shoppers must consider many things before making a purchase, including:
  • • What to watch out for
  • • How to finance
  • • Where to find research information
  • • What questions to ask dealers
  • • Car Warranty options and lengths
  • • Popular specialist dealers that sell them
  • • Car insurance requirements
  • • Gap insurance cover
  • • Time and costs for charging the battery
  • • Cost for a service
  • • Are spares held by the dealerships or imported as required?

Consider watching out for:

Hybrid cars vary significantly in terms of their actual emissions, performance and running costs. Consumers must be aware that not all-electric cars are equal. 
In fact, even the revolutionary new "fully electric" car has a 95 per cent - not 100% - clean emissions rate. Buyers need to be armed with research and fully prepared before financing is considered and the buying process tackled on the dealer floors. They should also consider internet dealers as an alternative to traditional dealers. Electric car buyers must also take into account many additional factors that other new car buyers may not have to consider. 

Finance for your new car: borrowing money and your options:

Financing options are very diverse for UK cars. Recent market reports have encouraged consumers to explore the benefits of the competitive lending market developed by growth in independent loan brokers. Loan brokers have driven creditors to offer better rates and terms to be competitive with the market. For years, car buyers have gone to the car dealership before considering sourcing alternative finance solutions. Dealers aggressively push their own financing which is typically offered at higher rates than open market financing.

UK consumer reports have indicated that over the life of the typical market-purchased car loan, consumers could save over 1,000 pounds compared to dealer finance plans. Yes, simply by approaching an alternative finance broker to the dealership. 

Where and how to do your research:

If thinking of buying an electric car you should realise that the internet has given rise to many great, more efficient and affordable ways to do research on your new car long before you actually hit the dealerships with requests for a test drive. Many dealers, the likes of Honda, Toyota and BMW are now online with far more information on green motoring than ever before and if an offer to purchase was made online you could find they are willing to give you a great price thank to the internet's low cost of supplying information and streamlined ordering processes.

Specialist new car importers are online specialists who focus on providing the very best and latest information on hybrid and electric cars. These online showrooms are also great resources for consumer information and comparison of prices, specifications and optional extras that you can get when buying an electric or hybrid car. While hybrid electric cars can often be purchased immediately, some newer electronic car models, including the upcoming fully electric car, must often be ordered far in advance as demand can often outstrip production for specialist models being launched.

When approaching Hybrid and Electric car dealers, buyers should be prepared with some well-prepared questions to ensure that they get the best value for money and buy the best car for their needs. There are many important questions to ask, here are four that buyers could consider asking a dealership salesperson:
  • • What services and benefits does your dealership offer that make it better than competitors, including car warranties?
  • • What are the most popular makes and models currently being sold?
  • • What are the emissions standards and performance data of preferred models?
  • • What is the time and cost involved with charging particular electric models?
  • • What range could you expect to get from your vehicle, even if it's fully battery powered?
Part of this process of due diligence should also include background checks on dealers, whether online or in traditional dealerships. Cars should ideally be taken for more than one test drive and always be very critical of the faults and small niggles as each model's comforts can vary greatly. If being "Green" is important to you, make yourself aware of the differing levels of pollution reduction and emissions offered by various electric/hybrid car models. 

Hybrid dealership warranty options for duel-fuels:

Car Warranties are important with any new car purchased, but there are extra considerations with electric-hybrid cars. Electric cars have additional mechanical and electrical components that must be maintained in good working order. Battery life and the electric motor components must be considered here. They also require charges to provide aid to the engine and a whole host of computers are needed to run these modern vehicles. These additional components make it especially important when asking about parts covered, service intervals and the length of the offered car warranty. Extended warranties must be available for the models you consider and we recommend that you find out about this before you actually buy the vehicle. Warranties are generally very good when it comes to these hybrid vehicles; just ask as many questions as you can think of before you buy and you should be ok. 

Insurance considerations:

One of the most important factors that electric car buyers need to consider is insurance. Because hybrid/electric and electric-only vehicles typically have higher price tags than their fuel-driven counterparts, protecting the investment you make is very important. Thus, motorists need to seek assistance from a skilled and specialised insurance provider who works routinely with the electric/hybrid car market. Internet insurance brokers have made it much more efficient for car buyers to find great coverage and great rates for electric/hybrid car insurance. 

Because of the increased investment and the higher number of covered items, many UK electric car buyers use GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insurance to get the most thorough insurance protection available. GAP insurance offers coverage on top of a regular insurance policy that is broader and more in-depth than standard motor insurance plans offered by dealers and traditional insurance providers. 
There are a limited choice of hybrids available in the UK compared to the US as they still only make up a small proportion of sales.

The Benefits Of An Extended Car Warranty.

Many older vehicles between three and five years are not likely to still be under their original warranty, so many dealers include mechanical breakdown insurance to increase their chance of selling that vehicle. These policies are generally very short and have major restrictions, so they may not always provide the level of cover that you really expect. Choose a used car from a manufacturer’s approved used scheme and the quality of the vehicle and any used car warranty that it comes with is likely to be a notch up on other deals. This is because that dealer's company has a vested interest in selling only the best-used cars and a bad warranty could damage their reputation.

Buyers of hybrid vehicles may find it useful to research what types of used car warranty are available for any particular model before committing to a purchase.