The holiday season means there are some great deals out there when it comes to buying a car. Hybrids are quickly rising in popularity and there’s no better time to hop on this green train. But most people don’t know a whole lot about hybrids. There are so many great options out there for a “green” car and the ease at the gas pump doesn’t hurt either. Before you settle on another gas-guzzler take a look at some hybrids.

What is a hybrid car anyway? It’s typically a car that uses two or more power sources. Most hybrids combine a normal gasoline engine with an electric motor. Plug-in electric vehicles are being introduced to consumers as well. These cars can actually be plugged into a house to be charged. It might seem like hybrids are new to the market but the first one was actually invented in 1899! It might appear as if all hybrids are alike but that is far from the truth. There is more and more variety out there as advances are made in the field. The main power configurations and common cars include:

The Honda Insight is a parallel hybrid. Its electric motor and gasoline engine can work individually or together.

The Honda Civic Hybrid is a mid parallel hybrid. It uses an electric motor for auto-stop/star features and to provide extra power during acceleration.

The Toyota Prius is a series parallel hybrid. Power electric motor and gasoline motor is shared but can be at varying ratios. The electric motor can also charge the cars batteries. The gasoline engine takes over when high speeds are needed, like on the highway.

Hybrids are so environmentally friendly because of the amount of gas you save and the lower amount of emissions. Having both an engine and electric motor means a smaller engine size which leads to lighter cars. The battery storage in hybrids is great; they reuse recaptured energy especially in typical city driving where there are constant stops. Most hybrid cars are also designed to be more aerodynamic which helps with fuel economy.

Most major car companies now offer hybrids that have the same aesthetic as their “regular” cars. If everyone in the U.S. drove hybrid gas consumption would drop at least 15%. Considering we are a country that consumes a lot of gasoline that’s a big deal! Owning a hybrid also gives you a tax deduction and who doesn’t love that? So when you’re at the dealership remember to ask what hybrids they have to offer!