The Best Volkswagen Association
Volkswagen never cease to become one of the world’s most loved cars. In fact, in a list of best-selling cars, three of them are VWs: the Volkswagen Beetle, the Volkswagen Passat and the Volkswagen Golf. No doubt that Volkswagen stands by its name: “people’s car” in German. Until recently, Volkswagen are now at odds with the people when it lied on US diesel emissions test.
Why the Need for Greener Energy Alternatives?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, OPEC’s price manipulation and resulting price shocks at the pump have cost the United States economy an astonishing $1.9 trillion from the years 2004 to 2008. This economic debacle, coupled with Americans’ growing awareness of the environmental and foreign relations harm caused by their oil dependence, has reignited interest in alternatives to the typical gasoline engine used in most vehicles today. One popular alternative is the hybrid engine-powered car, which has several advantages over the gasoline engine.
History of Hybrid Cars
Gasoline engines have been used in motor vehicles since their debut, retaining their dominance thanks to a ready supply of cheap petroleum and few viable alternatives. Hybrid cars are a relatively new phenomenon, introduced to the United States market in 2000. Their engines combine the features of both gasoline-powered and electric motors, increasing fuel economy and reducing carbon emissions.
In an extensive research, Arie Beresteanu and Shanjun Li relate that these cars initially experienced a lukewarm reception, selling only 10,000 units their first year on the market. They are gaining market share over gasoline-powered cars, thanks in part to federal tax incentives established in 2006 as well as consumers’ frustration at higher prices at the pump and environmental worries.
Features of Hybrid Vehicles
Beresteanu and Li further examine the differences between hybrids and gasoline-powered engines in their paper, finding that hybrids are more efficient than gasoline engines. Traditional internal combustion engines waste up to 85% of the fuel they consume. Hybrids use a rechargeable battery to capture some of the energy that is normally wasted in a car’s operation, such as braking. The battery then periodically kicks in to move the car forward at appropriate times, turning the gasoline engine off in the process.
One misconception is that you immediately save money when you buy a hybrid vehicle due to having to buy less gas. In truth, due to the increased initial price of the vehicles, cost savings are not realized until after several years of driving at current gasoline prices. Calculations by Davis Fleming and Thomas Privott at the University of North Carolina demonstrate gasoline would have to be priced at $8 per gallon before any savings are realized compared to a strictly gasoline powered car. This is expected to change as more hybrid vehicles come on the market and prices drop relative to gasoline cars.
Hybrid and Other Eco-Friendly Models
The Toyota Prius is the best selling hybrid vehicle, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It enjoys plenty of brand awareness due to media exposure and strong advertising campaigns. Gasoline cars are catching up with some of the fuel efficiency features of hybrids, as evidenced by the Ford Fiesta with a 40 mpg highway rating using a conventional engine according to the Los Angeles Times. A third alternative is the Honda Civic GX, which was dubbed the “Greenest Vehicle” by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The impact of higher prices, energy security concerns, and environmental disasters will continue to generate ever-increasing interest in hybrid cars versus traditional gasoline cars. For socially-conscious consumers, they represent a viable way to reduce their personal carbon footprint. Even for the strictly cost-conscious, gasoline powered cars will continue to lose appeal as hybrids and other alternatives become more affordable and get better mileage.
At present, Volkswagen has joined the Hybrid trend like the 2014 VW Passat GTE Plug-in and the 2015 VW Golf GTE Hybrid.