The problem with hybrids still is the economics and uncertainty of this new
technology. As an example to replace my current 1995 minivan which gets
combined 20mpg and is paid for with a new $20K hybrid that gets combined
40mpg I would save $1500/year in gas cost at 10K miles and $3/us gallon gas.
That savings would be offset in California by sales tax on the hybrid of
$1800 and registration would jump from $70/year to $650/year. Insurance
would take a similar jump. I might still be faced with a very large cost
when the electrical part of the hybrid needed replacement or repair. I still
have not seen published expected lifespan for the batteries, their recycling
expenses (computer monitors are now $12 a pop where I live) or replacement
costs. For someone who replaces their car every 3-5 years or who wants to
make a statement then hybrid is the way to go. However at the current time
they do not make good economic sense for someone who keeps a car 15-20
years. Right now if I were to purchase an environmentally friendly
affordable car it would probably be a 4 cylinder Camry or Accord (yes I
realize this is a Mercedes group - I have a 72 280 SEL 4.5 14mpg thank you).
The best comparisons would be the Prius vs. Echo or the basic Civic vs.
Hybrid Civic. Run the numbers and factor in the maintenance uncertainty.The
issue of environmental impact of used batteries if most people drove hybrids
also has not been addressed.
I test-drove a Toyota Prius in Germany and liked the experience. In
Germany this car costs more than 30.000 US$ (with executive options
like car stereo and navi system), which is far more than I can afford
for a car right now.
In my humble opinion there are only two reasons to oerate a hybrid
1. to meet enviromental standards which cannot be met by another
2. to save money.
If you take the situation in Germany, there is no real advantage of a
Prius compared to any other modern, economic car. There are no laws
which would allow an electric car to drive where other cars may not
drive. Besides this a car like the VW Golf SDI offers comparable
specs and beats the Prius slightly in fuel consumption.
Given the current situation, a Prius does not make sense in Germany,
unless you value its specific features. That means you like the fact
that it comes with a CVT gearbox and is perfectly quiet at
standstill. However: Times can change. Diesel cars have become
regarded enviromentically critical due to their dust emissions.
Besides that Diesel fuel has become more and more expensive and has
almost reached the level of unleaded gas (although fuel tax on diesel
is lower than on petrol). Things could get worse for the diesel in
future. Then the gas hybrid may be the best solution.
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