With oil prices out of control and the cost at the pump reaching new highs every day, people are now moving to more fuel efficient gas/electric hybrid cars like the popular Toyota Prius to save money on hitting the daily commute. Some people are taking the savings even further by modifying their hybrid cars to run on additional batteries, claiming insane figures when it comes to miles per gallon. But are you really saving green when you get in your “green car?”
Two words: Not really.
While your brand new gas/electric hybrid car may be better for the environment, it might not be so good for your wallet in the long run. Sure, for a large family driving gas-guzzling V8 SUV’s who are living the American dream with decent jobs, a 4 bedroom house, and a few dozen credit cards, the savings are right in front of their face in the numbers: MPG. The long term isn’t much so… Was that hybrid your first car? Of course not. You already had a car you were driving around while it was sucking you dry. For most people, spending $20,000 or more to save gas isn’t an option right now.
Let’s say your average beater gets roughly 25 MPG. I know, it’s older, way past 100,000 miles and you could use a BMW. It’s OK, you’ll get one when somebody rich in the family dies. The 2008 Toyota Prius gets an average reported MPG of between 45 and 55. Let’s call it 50 MPG (From Edmunds.com user comments). That’s twice the fuel efficiently of your current pile of shit. According to various averages from Googling, the typical American faces a round-trip commute of roughly 50 miles round trip between home, work, and back again. For the new hybrid, this is a single gallon of gas a day – $4.00, which adds up to roughly $28.00/week in fuel costs. Your beater? $56.00.
For the above-average American with really good credit, that new hybrid is going to cost about the same per month as it uses in gas between the gas cost itself and the monthly car loan payment, doubling your cost per month of driving which equals out to be the exact same cost of the car you own right now. Sure, it’s only until the hybrid is paid off, but is it going to survive? Do you know how to pop the hood and do quick fixes to your new gas/electric car like you can on that old Ford Explorer? Probably not. Dealership time!
And let me tell you, it’s a known fact that the dealership makes more money off repairs over the life of the vehicle than it does in the actual sale of that car or truck. You’ll be back and they know it. And new technology is always more expensive to repair than taking your beater to the local Repair-O-Rama. For one, there are a lot less parts floating around for your 2008 Toyota Prius than there are for your 1998 Ford Explorer. Also, since you paid to ride, you’ll pay to ride again if you want your new car back from Toyota. Do you know how many years the electrical system of a hybrid lasts? Probably not because they haven’t been around long enough! I don’t even trust power windows to last. Get ready to bend over.
What happens to all those dead worthless hybrid car batteries? Are they eco-friendly, too? Doubtful. They’re going to be around a lot longer than your car will, eating away at the environment you tried to protect. Going green isn’t exactly cost effective for the average lower-to-middle-class American living paycheck to paycheck and they’re the ones that are really effected by these high gas prices.
Want to save the environment and save some cash? Buy a bicycle.