Been thinking about getting a hybrid car? There are plenty of good reasons to get a hybrid…great fuel economy, low emissions, low carbon footprint (especially with gasoline heading towards $4 per gallon in most states). However, says Oceans 2003, there are more things to consider than just the price of a gallon of gas.
- Fuel economy vs. purchase price – This depends on what you’re driving, really. If you’re going for a Prius or Honda (and gas prices stay high), you can recoup the premium on the purchase price in as little as a couple of years. If you’ve opted for a hybrid SUV, the fuel economy isn’t a whole lot better than a gas-only model, meaning it could take the life of the vehicle to make your money back. In an extreme case like the Lexus LS600h hybrid (a pricey vehicle with a six-figure price tag), it would take over 100 years to make up the difference!
- Environmental impact – It’s more than just the emissions and carbon footprint in this equation. When a hybrid or electric reaches the end of its service life, the lithium or cobalt battery presents a whole new challenge when it comes to disposal or recycling. Plug-in electrics, also, require a great dea; of electricity to recharge, putting a new strain on area power plants.
- Repair costs – Hybrids tend to be expensive to repair, and techs and garages have had to learn a whole new maintenance and repair regime for hybrids. Fortunately, with the right maintenance they’ll hold up as well as any other vehicle over time.
- Performance – This is starting to change as hybrids evolve, but hybrids generally do not have the power and acceleration that their gas-only counterparts offer. You may not be a speed demon or interested in drag racing, but that extra power can make a big difference if you have to pass on a two-lane road or merge onto a busy interstate.
None of this is meant to discourage buying a hybrid, and as with all other technologies, each successive generation of hybrid cars tends to be better than the one before (more dependable, better fuel economy, better performance). If you’re contemplating an electric or hybrid, though, these are all things to consider in your purchase decision. And if gas stays above $3/gallon as many analysts think it will, hybrids are going to look like a more and more appealing idea as opposed to gas-only or diesel-only models.