Regular, gas-powered cars burn fossil fuels. This releases carbon dioxide and other harmful substances into the atmosphere that contribute to global warming. Because hybrids use less gas, the vehicles are better for the environment.
Hybrids have smaller, efficient engines. The vehicles have special motors that help the engines produce acceleration. These parts work together to convert gas to energy that's stored in the cars' batteries. Braking helps convert energy into electricity.
Plug-in hybrids can be driven for longer distances without using any gas (up to 40 miles for some models). They have power cords, which drivers plug into standard electrical sockets to recharge the cars.
Honda introduced the first modern hybrid vehicle in the United States in 1999. The Honda Insight gets up to 70 miles per gallon at high speeds.
Celebrities and politicians who own or have owned hybrid cars include Hillary Clinton, Danny DeVito, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Barack Obama.
Hybrid cars have been available in the United States since the late 1990s. The Earth-friendly vehicles run on gasoline and electricity. They're becoming more popular, thanks to high gas prices and growing concern for the environment. There are different types of hybrids, and several car companies are planning to introduce new hybrid vehicles.