Companies are perfecting hybrids and electric cars with each new model. But the image of being stranded on the side of the road because your electric car ran out of juice is ever-present. With the hype around the newer versions of hybrids like the 2011 Chevy Volt, you're definitely tempted. But driving a car around with a dual engine and a motor doesn't necessarily instill confidence. The thought of waiting on a tow company that proclaimed they were on their way two hours ago is enough to make you keep driving your gasoline-powered vehicle.
Don't be a worrywart on this issue. Getting stranded is unlikely to happen because the vehicle has an engine that operates on gasoline and a motor that operates on electricity. The vehicles are smart enough to know when to use what. For example, the Toyota Prius automatically decides how to use the engine and motor in the best way possible. It's dependent upon factors like traveling speed [source: Toyota]. Some of the alternative vehicles like the Nissan LEAF have a driving range of 100 miles (161 kilometers) before they need to be recharged. Other cars are better for shorter distances like the 2011 Chevy Volt which can run on electricity for up to 40 miles (64 kilometers). After that, its backup gas generator kicks in to power the car for another 300 miles (482 kilometers) [source: CBS News]. And many plug-in hybrids can be charged in household electrical outlets. So just think. You can plug in your hair dryer and your vehicle at the same location.