Today, nearly every auto manufacturer offers some version of a hybrid vehicle that combines an electric engine with a traditional gasoline-powered engine. There’s little question that the future of the automobile industry includes some measure of electrification. But pricing is one of the bigger questions floating around on that topic.
Hybrid vehicles allow consumers to use much less gasoline than standard combustion (gasoline-powered) engines and emit a lesser amount of CO2 into the environment, while still relying on the combustion of fossil fuels for their motivation.*
Although the options for greener cars have increased over the years – providing not only standard economy cars, but larger SUVs as well – carting around two powertrains (no matter how well integrated they are) will never be the most efficient solution. While these vehicles have lower emissions and require less frequent trips to the gas station, they still have maintenance and gasoline costs. Although you won’t spend as much as the average person, you will still be paying something.
The demand for hybrids has brought the average cost for each vehicle down, which allows more individuals the opportunity to purchase one and essentially save money in the long run due to reduced trips to the pump. Hybrid vehicles typically run in the $30,000-$45,000 range, depending on the make and model you desire.
Some pundits believe that the hybrid vehicle is just a stepping-stone toward an electric car that doesn’t depend on combustion. That being said, electric vehicles are not really a futuristic concept. Some of the first automobile prototypes only used electricity to run their engines. The only problem was that they didn’t run very fast, nor did they run for very long without a need for recharging. That’s why the traditional engine using petroleum replaced all electronic forms of transportation.
With the rising cost of fuel and the depletion of natural fossil fuels, this concept has been revisited frequently in the last decade. Unfortunately, manufacturers have found that to produce anything that would be remotely suitable for transit, would cost the consumer a small fortune once completed and ready for market. When the first marketable electric car hit the market, it was priced at nearly $110,000. The upside to paying this kind of cash is that there wouldn’t be any fuel costs at all for the life of the vehicle.
Today, there are more reasonable fully-electric vehicles on the market – like the Nissan LEAF. Starting from $21,300 after federal tax savings, this baby gets 129 city and 102 hwy MPGe** It is completely gasoline and oil free and will travel, based on conditions, up to 100 miles before recharging!
Another moderately-priced offering is the Model S from Tesla Motor Company at just under $50,000. It is a sleek, quiet vehicle that never needs refueling and will travel up to 300 miles without having to recharge, which really only takes 45 minutes total to complete. The Tesla model S is the first in its kind to be an electric car and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds, as well as being able to hold up to seven passengers.
Both the hybrid and the electric car are economical forms of transportation once the initial cost has been paid for, but when electric cars like the LEAF and the Tesla become the norm, the cost benefits will be unchallenged.
*A supplementary electrical system takes some of the energy that would be wasted or otherwise lost under braking, stores it in a battery, and then uses it to help power the vehicle at some later point.
**Based on EPA formula of 33.7 kW/hour equal to one gallon of gasoline energy, EPA rated the LEAF equivalent to 129 MPG measured as gasoline fuel efficiency in city driving, and 102 MPG in highway driving. Actual mileage may vary with driving conditions – use for comparison only.
image courtesy of Auto Kiosk Groen Mobiel