As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

Is A Hybrid Vehicle Right For You?

hybridEver since Toyota came out with the landmark Prius, the first hybrid car to really capture public attention, more and more manufacturers have been coming out with hybrid engines. Everybody’s doing it, from Mercedes-Benz to Nissan (well, not quite everybody, but you know what I mean).  You might be running your eyes through the reviews we have here at Private Fleet and wondering if a hybrid will be right for you. Surely, you ask yourself, a hybrid will be cheaper to run and better for the planet.  Why shouldn’t I buy a hybrid car?

The answer to this question is yes and no.  It really depends on you and your situation, just like it does for any other vehicle.  To help you find out whether you should consider a hybrid, ask yourself the following handful of questions:

Do you live in the city or in the country?

Hybrid cars do best if they are driven around town. The stop–start style of driving and the low speeds are the moments when the electrical motors in the hybrids are designed to kick in. If you do a lot of round-the-town driving, then a hybrid engine will improve your fuel economy figures.  However, if you live out in the back blocks and/or do a lot of open road driving, the electric part doesn’t quite get the same chance to do its thing and you may get similar fuel economy figures with a regular petrol or diesel engine (of course, this depends on how you drive but that’s another story).

Are you a petrolhead?

By a petrolhead, I mean someone who likes to hear the roar of the engine and chooses vehicles based on their performance.  As hybrids tend to be quiet (electric motors are whisper-quiet) and tend to not quite have the performance flair of their petrol and diesel equivalents – although the designers are working on this one – they might not press your buttons.

How big is your family?

On the whole, hybrids tend to be smaller vehicles rather than larger ones that fit in the kids, their friends, the sports gear and the dog.  Again, this will probably change in the future, but it can be very hard to find a hybrid vehicle that has seven seats. But not impossible: you do have a choice between a Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid and a Prius V . It may be tricky finding a second-hand version if you can’t afford to buy new, especially as the Pathfinder hybrid has only recently been released.  If you’re like my sister-in-law and have six kids plus a dog, then you may need to postpone getting a hybrid.  On the other hand, if you’ve only got a couple of kids or if you can afford to buy new, then you can probably find a suitable hybrid.

Do you need to tow trailers, caravans or horse floats?

If you do a lot of towing, then the extra demand made on the engine by getting that load on the back up to speed will mean that you won’t get the main benefits of having a hybrid engine. What’s more, as mentioned above, hybrids tend to be on the smaller side and small vehicles don’t quite have the towing ability of bigger brutes (not to mention making you look a bit silly if you are a contractor or tradie).

If you are thinking about a plug-in hybrid, do you know where your nearest charging station is?

For some reason, Northern Territory doesn’t seem to be too well supplied with charging points, at least according to . However, most other main centres in Australia and a lot of minor centres have charging stations for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.  However, if your nearest charging station is miles out of your way, then don’t get a plug-in hybrid. If you can’t recharge it properly, you aren’t going to get the benefits of going plug-in.  Either stick to an ordinary hybrid or go for fossil fuels – or put up with the higher power bills of at-home charging (you thought your mobile phone was bad…).