Hybrid and Electric Cars
Honda has reached over a quarter of a million hybrid sales since 2001. Ford and Lexus are nearing 200,000 global sales each of their various hybrid cars. Clearly the market for these cars is expanding.
One of the early drivers for the shift in mentality about hybrids is the appeal that celebrities generated. Some celebrities, like Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Will Ferrell, and Leonardo DiCaprio, purchased hybrids in the early days of the vehicles to make a statement about what people can do for the environment. Back in 2006 there were fewer hybrids on the market, so the majority of celebrities helped to make the Prius the top seller as they were photographed with the sleek little car. As the number of hybrid models increased, so did the number of celebrities wanting to show they too were part of the new trend towards going green. When he turned 18, Justin Bieber was given a $100,000 sporty hybrid, the Fisker Karma, one of the most advanced, most luxurious electric cars available today. This has undoubtedly helped bring environmental consciousness to the young teen generation.
While celebrities made hybrid ownership trendy, the unpredictability of fuel prices coupled with the growing number of different types of hybrids has made the global consumer see the economic benefits of the hybrid. The Prius has perhaps the best record, getting roughly 50 mpg in town and 48 mpg on motorways. The Honda Civic gets about 40 mpg in town and 45 mpg on the motorway. The Mercury Milan and Ford Fusion average 38 mpg in town and on the motorway. As these cars have been around for longer, the statistics on them are more reliable, but new types of technology are emerging that will create all new types of vehicles. Honda has developed a zero-emission vehicle, the FCX Clarity, powered on hydrogen. Solar electrical cars, like the Solar Prius, include a solar panel roof. The two most intriguing new car companies are, Tesla, which has created an electric cars that are sleek, sporty, and completely electrical and the Fisker Karma, the first true electric luxury vehicle with extended range and the freedom to plug in or fill up. With the ability to toggle between the all-electric Stealth Mode or fuel assisted Sport Mode.
Given the higher cost of purchasing a hybrid, the typical consumer may ask how long it will take to break even. Since fuel prices remain unstable and the cost of both the vehicle and fuel vary from country to country, the results have a range that makes this a difficult question to answer. The lower cost hybrids usually take longer to break even, with the Prius taking roughly 7.5 years and the Civic Hybrid taking over a decade. However, the higher end luxury hybrids, like the Lincoln MKZ and Mercedes-Benz, take roughly 5 years to recover the difference in cost. The real difference is seen in the amount of money saved monthly as hybrid owners spend less time at the pump. Also, many countries offer tax incentives to make the hybrid more appealing.
Many car and gap insurance companies provide a preferred discount for hybrid owners, but several factors must be accounted for in cost, such as driving record and location. Despite the discount, the average insurance policy is higher for a hybrid because they tend to have more expensive high tech electronics and are more expensive to buy than the average car. However, studies show that the cars are as sturdy and safe as a typical car. As a technology still at the edge of innovation, those considering buying a hybrid should check the history of the model before making a final decision.