Eco Cars- Worth the Initial Outlay?

Friday, September 2, 2011

It's no secret that the world's oil supply is in decline. With gas prices going up and availability ready to take a downward turn at any moment, why aren't more people rushing out to buy hybrid cars? For one, most people can't afford new cars and instead consider the vast selection of Used Cars and also, hybrid technology simply isn't there yet.

Of course, a nice eco car will cost you much less than a luxury vehicle, but they are 25-30% more expensive than good old economy cars. With such a big price difference, you think you would be seeing more savings at the pump, but that isn't always the case.

In a comparison by Consumer Reports, 2003 models of Honda Civics were compared. The hybrid model sold for about $21,000 and got 36 miles to the gallon. The regular EX model sold for $18,500 and got 29 miles per gallon. The comparison showed that, not including any tax breaks, it would take 21.5 years of fueling the hybrid model to break even. With the tax break, it would still take you four years to begin to see any savings.

Hybrid cars are also predicted to depreciate in value faster than regular cars. This is because the current hybrid cars are current technology. A few years from now, these models will be obsolete and anyone wanting to buy an environmentally friendly vehicle will choose a later, more technologically advanced model.

There are also hidden costs of owning a hybrid. Battery replacement alone may cost you as much as $9,000 if your warranty has expired, which is practically half the cost of a brand new car. Hybrids are also more expensive to insure so you need to figure out your annual insurance payments to calculate how much more you will be spending in the long run. Hybrids cost more to insure because they are smaller and small size tends to increase the chances of accidents. Despite costing more to insure, hybrids are just as safe as other comparably sized cars.

Many small-size non-hybrid vehicles get just as good gas mileage if they are kept in good running order and have manual transmissions, plus they cost a fraction of the amount that hybrids do. Standard transmissions alone get 17-18% better gas mileage than their automatic transmission counterparts. This isn't to say that all eco-friendly cars are a bad idea. On the contrary, people's attitudes about gas consumption and gas-powered vehicles will need to drastically change in order to switch over on a massive scale and hybrid cars are taking those first baby steps toward change that modern consumers seem to need.

If you have been debating the benefits of getting an eco-friendly car but aren't completely sold, wait a few years. You may do better now to buy a used vehicle with low-gas mileage and save up for the next big thing. With technology advancing at a rapid pace and society wanting to answer the problem of finding alternative energy well before the Earth's oil runs out, you may be surprised what new innovation will pop up.

1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely in agreement with the "wait a few years" idea. I think that in the coming years, hybrids and non-gas powered vehicle choices will be copious. It's just taking off an an idea now, give it a few and the price will come down a bit.


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