Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Things to Consider Before Buying a Hybrid Car

Even though gas prices have been retreating to more reasonable levels, many families are still interested in hybid cars. The country is still in a financial crisis and global warming remains a long term issue. Most experts also agree that once the gloobal economy recovers oil and gas prices will increase again. Luckily, drivers have more options than ever before when it comes to saving money and reducing their carbon footprint.

10 years ago Toyota came out with the Prius, the world's first mass produced hybrid car which utilized both gas and electric engines. Now nearly every carmaker is attempting to produce its own version of the hybrid and consumers are chomping at the bit. The sales of "green" vehicles rose 38% last year alone according to AP.

If you are thinking of a hybrid here are some issues to consider:

Is a hybrid car really economically efficient?
Make sure you do your research on the true market value so that you are able to negotiate effectively. Keep in mind that hybrid prices vary greatly depending on the demand in the region. Hybrids can also be priced more highly in metro areas or after a new model first comes out. You should also note that most of your savings with a hybrid actually come over the longterm and that they are typically more expensive to buy or lease than other cars.

What type of hybrid do I want?
The Toyota Prius is a gas-electric hybrid, the electric motor is used for short distances and the gasoline engine kicks in at higher speeds to power the wheels and recharge the battery. The Chevy Volt, one of the upcoming series of plug-in hybrids, will travel 40 miles on the battery when the gas engine recharges it. Plug-ins will be recharged through an electrical outlet in the wall. The new bailout bill also provides new tax credits for plug-in hybrids, up to $7,500 depending on the kilowatt capacity of the battery.

How much will I save on gas by driving a hybrid?
With hybrids costing between $1,200 and $8,000 more than traditional cars, it can take at least 100,000 miles to offset the increased cost of the car. Two other factors to consider are the distance of your commute and the price of gas in your area. Obviously, the more you drive the more quickly you'll earn back the added cost of the car. Be aware that there are other fule efficient cars on the market. But if you are interested in a hybrid you have a variety of choices.

How important is the environmental impact of the car?
Not all hybrids are created equally. The Automaker rankings of 2007 listed Honda as the Greenest Automaker. If you are concerned about your car's impact on the environment, visit www.fueleconomy.gov and you can check out the listings for every year of a car, make and model and learn about the car's carbon footprint, EPA air pollution score and petroleum consumption.

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