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Setting the record straight on five common green car misconceptions

Even as alternative fuel cars become more commonplace, misconceptions abound about their drawbacks and utility. We clear up five of the most common myths.

Myth: Hybrids need to have expensive batteries that must be replaced periodically.

Fact: Consumer Reports and others have tested older Toyota Prius hybrids, some with well over 200,000 miles on the odometer, and found very little degradation in the batteries. Regardless, California requires a 10-year/150,000-mile warranty on hybrid batteries.

Myth: A hybrid always saves you money.

Fact: That really depends what how many you miles drive annually. Factoring tax and registration fees, a Honda Accord EX-L hybrid will cost about $3,800 more the same trim level regular Accord, according to TrueCar.com. Based on driving 14,000 miles annually at current California gas prices, that will take more than six years to make back. But if you drove 10,000 miles a year, it would take almost 10 years of gas savings to cover the hybrid's higher price.

Myth: Electric cars have too short a range for my daily driving needs.

Fact: Most electric cars get 75 to 85 miles per charge. Working age adults in the U.S. drive an average 14,120 miles annually, or less than 37 miles a day. Even if you figure all those miles are just for commuting, with only weekends off, the average is still only 54 miles, well within an EVs range.

Myth: Generating electricity to power cars causes just as much pollution as gasoline.

Fact: A battery electric car, powered by the California grid, creates about 40% of the carbon emissions of a gasoline vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon, according to a UC Irvine transportation study. That includes carbon emissions from the manufacture of the vehicles.

Myth: Hydrogen refining causes too much pollution to make fuel cell cars worthwhile.

Fact: California requires that 33% of the hydrogen used for fuel cell vehicles in state be generated through the use of renewable energy. That means that fuel cell cars are dirtier than battery electric cars but cleaner than gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas vehicles. Future increases in hydrogen generation from renewable energy sources are expected to make the technology cleaner.

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