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I want to buy a second hand Toyota Prius Hybrid car which a friend is selling. What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning one, will I manage it?

Hi Paul, I follow and enjoy your responses to readers’ motoring questions. I want to buy a second hand Toyota Prius Hybrid car which a friend is selling. What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning one, will I manage it? Kateba Isaac.

Hello Isaac, a hybrid car has technology which runs on a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. The petrol engine drives an electric generator which in turn powers the electric motor which runs alternately with the petrol engine. The result is less reliance on the petrol engine to run the car. There are benefits with this technology including superior fuel efficiency resulting from less dependency on fuel and weight savings garnered from the smaller engines and lightweight materials used to build the hybrid cars.

The hybrid cars have regenerative brakes. Energy generated during braking is harnessed and used to charge the batteries. Hybrid cars provide cleaner energy because they run on a combination of fuel and electricity hence emitting less pollution.
In some countries such as Japan the use of hybrid cars attracts legislative incentives such as tax credits. Hybrid car technology also has some construction or limitations. The performance of hybrid engines is limited. Hybrids are built for fuel economy and not speed.

The emphasis on lightweight materials negates the use of performance enhancing suspension and body parts. Running on the batteries is limited to low speeds. A hybrid car is costly to purchase as a new car because of the expensive technology and economy benefits.

The used or locally ‘re-used’ hybrid cars are on the contrary cheaper to buy but this could be because their expensive batteries have a shorter lifespan left. There is a risk of dumping on our market used hybrid cars with almost expired batteries whose replacement is prohibitively expensive. Hybrid car engine technology is relatively new on the market and could pause some maintenance challenges. Limited repair know how and tooling coupled with limited or nonexistent availability of replacement batteries and motors on the Ugandan market will make it difficult for you to maintain that ‘re-used’ hybrid Toyota Prius you are considering to buy from your friend.

Try asking him why he is selling it and insist on a computer diagnosis to assess battery and motor life before you make a decision.
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