Ever since the first Prius hit the US market in 2000, hybrid vehicles have become an increasingly viable option for the environmentally conscious driver. In addition to the four generations of Prius models produced since its inception, the fleet of Toyota hybrids has expanded to include the fuel-efficient Toyota Camry Hybrid, RAV4, Avalon, and Highlander. Of course, these models still exist in full-petrol models, but their hybrid counterparts get better MPG and use less gasoline—and the Prius Prime can operate using none at all.
Incredible Fuel Efficiency & Then Some
Minimal fuel consumption isn’t the only way in which hybrids differ from their full-petrol foils; there are maintenance costs to consider, as well.
The gas engines in hybrid vehicles turn off while idling and operate at lower RPMs in general, which leads to less wear on the hard-to-replace components such as piston rings and crankshaft bearings. In addition, brake pads are known to last much longer in hybrid vehicles due to an ingenious regenerative braking system that utilizes a supplemental braking method in which the wheels are slowed against the electric motor’s magnetic field. This electromagnetic resistance slows the vehicle while simultaneously charging the battery. The result? Some of the vehicle’s kinetic energy, which would normally be wasted, is instead converted into electrical energy, stored as chemical energy, and then re-used as kinetic energy at a later time.
The plug-in hybrid Prius Prime can do this and more while operating in full-electric mode. When the extra charge on the batteries is depleted, the Prius Prime automatically reverts to hybrid mode. The fuel economy in full-electric mode is an astonishing 133 MPGe, which is more than nearly any other plug-in hybrid.
The Camry, Avalon, Highlander, and RAV4 Hybrid all show higher fuel-economy ratings compared to their cousins. The upcoming RAV4 EV, for instance, has a fuel economy of 78 city/74 highway MPGe; contrast this to the standard RAV4 at 23 city/20 highway MPG, and you’ll probably notice a difference. Even with gasoline prices at a 14-year low, the benefits of owning a hybrid can’t be overstated.
Hybrid Vehicles in New Jersey
The perks of buying a hybrid vehicle extend into the legal realm, as well. In the state of New Jersey, hybrids getting more than 45 MPGe are qualified to receive a 10% discount on EZ-Passes, as well as HOV lane privileges during rush hour. If you commute up and into New York through Lakewood or Manchester regularly, you’ll obviously love these incentives to buy a hybrid.
There are also a handful of insurance companies who reduce their rates for hybrid drivers—ask your current auto insurer for options.
On the federal level, there is the Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit that applies to the Prius Prime and has a value of $4,502.
The Future of Toyota Hybrid Technology
Looking ahead, hybrid technology is poised for a big leap.
Toyota is working with silicon carbide semiconductors to replace the pure silicon electronics for the next generation of hybrid vehicles. The benefits of silicon carbide lie in its higher energy band gap, which allows silicon carbide to operate at higher voltages and lower resistance. In laymen’s terms, the silicon carbide reduces heat production, which in turn means less cooling requirements, enabling the car’s electronics to run more efficiently and take up less space. The properties of silicon carbide semiconductors are becoming well-known for their excellent high-temperature characteristics, but their use is limited by manufacturing difficulties—something Toyota is looking to simplify as they target a 10% improvement in overall fuel efficiency.
As the world evolves, so too does the road on which we travel. If you live in Lakewood, Toms River, or the surrounding NJ areas, it’s time to start thinking about adapting to a green(er) life. To test drive a hybrid, visit Toyota World of Lakewood at 1118 Ocean Ave, or call our sales department at (732) 276-1429. We’ll happily guide you toward the newest and most fuel-efficient Toyota models on the road.
Sources & Photos: