If it seems like you're seeing increasing numbers of hybrid cars on the road recently, it's because you are. The Environmental Protection Ministry announced this week that there was a significant rise in the import of hybrid cars into Israel over the last six months. The number of such vehicles sold in the first half of 2007 is double the amount sold all last year. To make the purchase of hybrid vehicles more appealing to consumers, the ministry promoted the lowering of sales tax on the environmentally friendly vehicles to 30%, compared to 84% in regular cars. "Hybrid family cars are the cleanest vehicles being imported to Israel today," said ministry vehicle pollution supervisor Avi Moshel. "We're talking about between 30-50% less emissions compared to regular gasoline driven vehicles of the same size." A hybrid electric vehicle combines a conventional propulsion system with an on-board rechargeable energy electric battery. The different propulsion power systems may have common subsystems or components. The vehicle can automatically shift from one system to another depending on the driving conditions. At low speeds, usually under 50km/h, the car runs on the electric motor. At higher speeds the vehicle shifts to using the regular motor. Theoretically, people who drive hybrid vehicles could go forever without visiting a gas station provided they kept to city speed limits. When operating on electric mode, hybrid cars produce no polluting emissions and very little noise. "As an environmental organization we prefer for the government and people to find alternative transportation solutions in place of private vehicles, things like public transportation and car pooling. But if they must buy a car we recommend buying an energy efficient and low emission producing vehicle like the hybrid," said Adam Teva V'din spokesperson Aviad Oren.