Should I Replace my Car with a Hybrid?

by admin ~ July 7th, 2009. Filed under: Saving Gas.

Many people wonder if they should buy a new hybrid car, because of the difference in gas mileage between their new hybrid and their old ‘gas guzzling’ vehicle. This is a difficult question to answer because there are certain questions that you must ask yourself first. Factors like the maintenance costs of your current vehicle, future rises in gas prices and what kind of deal you can get on your hybrid must be taken into consideration.

What Is A Hybrid

Let’s talk first about what a hybrid is, and how it differs from an automobile that uses solely gasoline to run on. Several companies make hybrids, in fact the first was made by Ferdinand Porsche in the beginning of the nineteenth century. A hybrid uses electricity in some part to fuel the propulsion of the vehicle. In the case of today’s hybrids, there is a marrying of a gasoline powered engine, and a series of batteries. The engine will complete tasks such as accelerating, and driving while carrying a heavy load such as a trailer. The batteries power the dome light, headlights, gauges and other devices, as well as running the vehicle when operating at a steady speed. This means that since the gasoline engine isn’t used very much, quite a bit less gasoline is used.

Last year’s hybrid models included the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Malibu, Tahoe and Silverado, as well as the Dodge Durango, GMC Serria and Yukon and two vehicles by Saturn, the Vue Green Line and the AURA Green Line. Toyota also released the Crown and two less well known manufacturers – Rowew and BYD released a vehicle each. The 2009 models include the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan, Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, two vehicles by Lexus, the 2009 edition of the Saturn Vue Green Line, and the Mercedes S400.

Most hybrid vehicles use some amount of gasoline during daily use, and their fuel efficiency is generally between forty and fifty miles to the gallon. This is quite a marked change from a vehicle bought only a few years ago that gets 15 or 20 miles to the gallon. If your vehicle gets 15-20 miles to the gallon you’ll double or triple the time between stops at the pump with a hybrid. However, before we decide whether or not a hybrid will save us money we need to examine some prices.

What Do Hybrids Cost?

Most people think that hybrid cars are far more expensive than regular gasoline powered vehicles, and while this was true two or three years ago, this is no longer the case. In fact, with a $700 billion bill that was approved in October 2008, customers will receive a tax credit for purchasing a hybrid vehicle, which in some cases brings the price of a hybrid priced the same, or only slighter higher than the price a gasoline powered vehicle of comparable make, model and year would cost. The bill gives consumers a $7500 tax credit upon purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

The Chevrolet Volt is a vehicle we’re going to use as an example, set for release in 2010, and is indicative of what the future of hybrid vehicles are, in the next few years. The Volt has enough power in its battery cells to power the vehicle for 40 miles, which means that the average person could commute to work and back, with a possible side trip for some shopping without ever needing any gasoline at all. Of course, if you take longer trips then the normal gasoline engine would have to take over after the first 40 miles, and then you’re looking at 50 to 150 miles per gallon.

How do hybrid cars save money?

If we were to use that same model, the Chevy Volt, as an example to determine if the cost of the car would be worth the money you’ll save on gasoline by buying a hybrid, we should be able to determine if purchasing a hybrid is worth it. If you were to commute to work daily, less than 40 miles round trip, and did most of your shopping on weekends, keeping under 40 miles round trip once again, then you will only use the gasoline engine when you travel. If you travel less than 1000 miles per year, or 80-90 miles a month, then you would use less than 20 gallons of gas per year. That puts your annual gasoline cost at about $60 bucks.

If your regular car gets 20 miles to the gallon, and you travel 1000 miles per year, plus your regular commute, averaging about another 10,000 miles then 11,000 miles per year in a regular gasoline car would cost you about $1650 per year in gasoline, or about $137 per month. When you consider that the average car payment is around $300 a month, then that seems almost worth it right there. However, if your car is truly a “gas guzzler” then your probably looking at more like 10 to 12 miles per gallon and your savings begins to look much better at $275 a month.

The Future of Hybrids

There are still great things to come from manufacturers as far as hybrid cars go. Many have teams coming up with unique ideas for eliminating gasoline altogether, such as a new technology by BMW that is currently in development, that uses the heat from the vehicle’s exhaust to generate electricity. Also, some companies are researching new ways to apply solar energy, which if successful could allow cars to travel on battery power indefinitely, as long as the sun is shining.

Hybrid cars are certainly the future, and soon people driving gasoline vehicles may be regarded with prejudice or even fines, as society and the government moves toward more eco-friendly vehicles. There may be more considerations than cost, especially when oil is no longer as available as it is today, or when the government begins to fine vehicles that still use gasoline as a source of power. The decision is yours. Do your research and decide if you, too, would like to go hybrid!

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