Value and economy gains from current hybrids are debated. In 2007 Consumer Reports estimated Hybrid-Electric Vehicles burn 50 percent less fuel than similar non-hybrid vehicles. Keep in mind that EPA fuel economy estimates (data from controlled dynamometer testing) are often higher than what's produced in real-world driving.
Ranging widely by model, an HEV can cost thousands more than the same conventionally equipped car or truck. For that reason, along with the price of fuel, the time it takes to cover the initial cost with money saved at the pump varies considerably. But the numbers will improve with future advances in hybrid technology.
Size, weight, aerodynamics, low-resistance tires, advanced engine and transmission technology all play a part in an HEV's reduced fuel consumption and greener emissions. Merging the fuel-burning efficiency of diesel engines may be next in line for retail hybrid production. Fuel cell technology (chemical conversion to electricity) is foreseen as a significant element in future electric and hybrid-electric vehicle development.
HEVs are a significant step in practical automotive technology focused on minimizing consumption and pollution emitted by petroleum-based fuels. This should be an increasing segment in car and truck sales for some time to come. J.D. Power-LMC Forecasting predicts there to be 38 hybrids on the market by 2011. RWA