There seems to be no stopping the oil companies, as the price at the pumps continues to rise to astronomical heights for a myriad of reasons, valid or not. Civil wars in Nigeria, international conflicts in Iraq, hurricanes and other storms at home and abroad are all reasons gas companies posit to defend their outrageous gouging.
In the face of rising gas costs, many consumers are beginning to consider the option of a hybrid vehicle- one which operates on both gas and electricity. All of the models of hybrid car will save money in terms of gas expenditures, but are they really effective when all of the costs of maintenance and other considerations are factored in?
Right off the bat, consider the cost of buying a hybrid vehicle. Depending on the model, hybrid vehicles can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 more than the equivalent non-hybrid model. These prices need to be stacked up against the savings that a hybrid car owner would gain in gas, factoring in the mileage needed. One report by Edmunds, for example, shows that huge price increases in the cost of gas would need to take place, or the vehicle owner would need to put on some serious mileage, in order for the hybrid models to gain a sufficient price saving advantage when stacked up against initial purchases. The one exception in the study was the Toyota Prius, which compared very effectively in terms of initial cost with the Camry model. The consumer watchdog points out, however, that as the hybrid cars become increasingly more available as a reflection of demand the prices can be expected to drop, making them more cost effective when it comes to an initial investment.
Also important to keep in mind is the fact that the hybrid cars have a much more specialized system than the standard vehicle, and will therefore require a more specialized mechanic when it comes time for any repairs. Most consumer report features consider hybrid cars to require an investment of at least five years in order to break even as far as initial costs go, and do not take into account the possibilities of damage that requires fixing to the power train of the vehicles.
It seems as though, at least for the time being, the purchase of a hybrid vehicle for the average consumer may not be the best option when it comes to saving money. It is important to keep several things in mind, however, when considering purchasing a hybrid model. Many consumers are choosing to purchase these cars because they represent a significant development in terms of environmental concerns over standard models. They also mean that as a whole, Western nations will become less dependent on oil as the sole means of power.
Finally, it is imperative to keep in mind that the hybrid car is a very new technology. Developed only within the last few years, the technology is still in the infant stages, where costs will continue to be high. Hybrid cars also have only a small percentage of the market right now as well. As time passes, the development of the hybrid technology will begin to push prices down to the point where hybrids are more than competitive with the traditionally fueled models of the past.