When gas prices breached the four-dollar-per-gallon mark, America began to change. GM closed some of its SUV and truck plants in orderto retool for more fuel-efficient cars. People voluntarily began to drive more slowly in order to save on fuel, and the demand for hybrid cars far outpaced the auto industry’s ability to build them.
Hybrid cars owe their success to combining the benefits of a gas engine with the benefits of an electric motor. Here’s the logic: The gasoline engine gets excellent highway mileage but poor mileage in the city. The electric motor is very efficient in city driving, but is less efficient on the highway. With a hybrid car, energy from the battery powers the electric motor during start-and-stop city driving, and as speeds increase the gas engine begins to contribute power; at highway speeds, the car is propelled entirely by the gas engine.