Americans have many reasons for wanting to buy a car that is “green.” For some, buying a hybrid vehicle satisfies that goal - a car that runs on gasoline fuel in traffic and cruises using electric power on the highway.
If that’s you, before committing to a hybrid, consider these facts first.
10 Things to Consider Before Going Hybrid
- A 2012 survey by Polk reported that only 35 percent of hybrid owners bought another hybrid when they replaced their first hybrid. The survey also found that if Toyota Prius owners are not part of the mix, the percentage of hybrid owners that bought a hybrid again dropped down to 25 percent. Which could mean the Prius owners are the most satisfied of the group.
- A hybrid vehicle costs up to 20 percent more than a similar gasoline-only car. Of the major car types, studies show that diesel cars return the most at resale, gasoline-only next, and hybrids return the least amount of resale value. So you pay more at the beginning and lose more over time.
- On average, to accommodate the added technology used by hybrid cars, conventional sedans lose up to 5 cubic feet of space. An SUV loses storage space under the cargo floor and in the cargo area.
- If you do a great deal of highway driving, a hybrid gets great mileage. But for those that do mostly urban driving, there’s less of a gas mileage benefit. Just driving around town to do errands lowers the fuel economy benefit of a hybrid.
- For performance, comparing hybrid drives to alternative technology such as “clean diesel,” clean diesel out performs hybrid vehicles and all gas-powered cars. This is due to diesel engines having exceptional torque at low gears. Better torque means better acceleration and power.
- Battery replacement for hybrids is costly. A diesel vehicle doesn’t incur this huge potential cost, and diesel engines are far less expensive to maintain than other kinds.
- Because of the impressive torque and natural power of a diesel engine, it can tow and haul heavier payloads than a comparable gas model. Or a hybrid, for that matter.
- When you purchase a diesel car, you can buy it with a smaller engine that is as powerful as a larger and more expensive hybrid car.
- The percentage of hybrid cars in the United States consumer fleet is falling. This figure peaked at 2.8 percent in 2008, but has fallen to a low of 2.4 percent now.
- Hybrids are a bit “stodgy” to drive, impacting the customer experience. Gasoline and “clean diesel” cars are far peppier.
To be sure, hybrid vehicles have advantages that one should seriously consider. Just make sure you’re making the vehicle-buying decision that takes into account what’s most important for you.
This post was published on July 18, 2014 and was updated on January 22, 2016.