The Car for the Driver Who Doesn’t Like Green

My brother-in-law keeps telling me that he’s never going to get a green car. He says that it isn’t that he dislikes environmentalism. He enjoys trees and the outdoors. He wants to help the planet, but he doesn’t want the bother of plugging in every night and worrying about running out of electricity in less than a hundred miles. He always apologises after he says this because he knows how I feel, but his beliefs are firm. I can see his point. He’s not, and never has been, a crusader for the ecology. I like him anyway.

So I did some research and found his perfect car. He gets satisfaction out of saving money. He especially likes saving money painlessly. I took him to see the Honda Civic Hybrid.

First, some explanation about the four types of cars powered by electric motors. Cars made by the Tesla corporation use electricity as their only power source. There’s no gas engine on board. The maximum range is between 60 and 100 miles before a recharge, and you have to plug it in every night. The Toyota Prius depends on it’s electric motor as the main source of propulsion, but has a gas engine also. When the batteries get low, the gasoline engine takes over and directly turns the wheels, and it must be plugged in every night. The Chevrolet Volt uses a gas engine as a backup to the batteries. When the batteries run low, the gas engine turns a generator to create electricity to turn the electric motor. There’s no mechanical link from the engine to the wheels. Of course, you have to plug it in every night.

The last type of electric car is the one I showed to my brother-in-law. The Honda Civic Hybrid adds a 13 horsepower electric motor to a 110 horsepower, 1.5 litre gas engine. The electric motor rarely takes over, but it makes a great deal of difference in gas mileage and acceleration. The Honda Civic gets 44 miles per gallon on the road and a surprising 44 miles per gallon in town. That’s hard to match.

The driver never notices that he’s driving an electric car. The car performs and handles like a gas-only car. He fills it up at the gas station like any other car. He never had to plug it in. The car doesn’t require any special service. It simply gets better gas mileage than a gas-only car and it can use a smaller engine to get the same acceleration.

The 2013 Honda Civic Hybrid couples the engine and motor with a special system Honda calls Integrated Motor Assist (IMA). IMA puts the electric motor between the engine and transmission and uses it for starting the engine, reducing engine vibrations and generating electricity during braking.

The Civic Hybrid has another virtue; good resale value and a generous supply of used Civic Hybrids. You can always find a good Civic Hybrid at used cars sale and save even more money. The second generation started in 2005 and ran until 2011 when the third generation took over. Both generations are lovely cars, with a generous amount of room inside and a good exterior. The second generation used a smaller, 1.3 litre engine and a 20 horsepower motor and returned between 40 and 45 miles per gallon in town and on the road.

Image source: Daily Car Blog

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