Making Sense of Hybrid Car Terminology
In the 15 years since Toyota introduced the Prius hybrid in Japan, the public's understanding of how these automotive wonders work their magic has generally ranked right alongside its comprehension of DNA sequencing.
Sure, drivers grasp that hybrids -- essentially cars powered by gas with a side order of electricity -- can squeeze more miles from a gallon of petroleum and are easier on the environment, and even that there can be tax advantages to owning one. But the intricacies of their operation, which requires accepting that the added weight and complexity of a second powertrain can improve fuel economy, have mostly incited head-scratching.
And it doesn't help that consumers, having long since bought into the notion that hybrid cars would never need to be plugged in, are increasingly told by automakers that the sweet spot in the tradeoff between price and practicality turns out to be hybrids that do, in fact, plug in.
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