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Are hybrids as environmentally friendly as manufacturers claim?

I'm becoming environmentally conscious in my old age. I am fortunate to have come in to a few bob and now have a budget of around €40,000 to spend on a new car. Are hybrids as environmentally friendly as the manufacturers claim or would I be better off spending my money on something like a Mercedes-Benz C 200 CDI and keeping it for 10 years?

Filed under hybrid - Asked by Martin Kinsella (Mayo) - Wed, 05 May 2010 22:15


There has been a lot of debate about the benefits of hybrid cars, but few would disagree that they are a step in the right direction. The principle of the current crop of hybrids, for those that don't know, is that a standard petrol engine is combined with an electric motor, with the result being better fuel consumption and lower emissions. The original Toyota Prius was the first mass-produced hybrid on sale and Toyota has just released the third generation of the model and it promises to be more refined and cleaner than ever.

There are other alternatives such as the Honda Civic Hybrid, which isn't bad either, or the Honda Insight, while at the top end of the scale Lexus does three hybrids, the GS 450h, the LS 600h and the RX 450h. In the case of the Lexus hybrid technology it's as much about giving the cars higher performance as it is increasing efficiency.

A hybrid is cleaner in so far as official emissions figures are very low. The Prius emits less then 90g/km, which will make it the cleanest petrol car on sale in Ireland. In some cases you could get better fuel economy from a diesel engine though.

With a budget of €40,000 you could easily get into the new Prius when it arrives in October, as the car is expected to cost about €28,000 and this will be a very cheap car to run, so it seems the natural choice. Bear in mind that even cleaner technologies will arrive soon, including those in the Opel Ampera and even a new plug-in version of the Prius.

Answered by: Complete Car Adviser

1 response

Martin, one extra thing you may not be aware of is that the current crop of hybrids drive quite differently to a conventional car. It depends on your driving style of course, but going from your BMW to the Prius could be a culture shock. Make sure you get a good long test drive before you make any decisions.

Posted by Shane O' Donoghue - Complete Car Adviser (Dublin) - Wed, 05 May 2010 22:20:09

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