Americans today do not realize that hybrid cars are not cost efficient to buy. This is caused by many factors, many having to do with price of production and gas prices. The cost of production for many hybrid cars is too high causing the car to be to expensive for consumers to buy. They end up paying so much more for a car that promises to save them money. These cars turn end up not fulfilling that promise and leaving people short on cash. It is true that a hybrid car will save money at the pump, but not enough to cover the cost of buying and maintaining the car itself. Gas prices are another reason why these cars aren’t worth it. The prices of gas today are around 3 dollars which is nearing a record high. Even with prices this high, people will not save enough money with less gas consumption to cover the extra costs of owning such a high maintenance and highly complex car. The math works out that spending more on a hybrid car over a similar small car will end up costing the owner more money.
The only way to make the car cost efficient would be to own it for an abnormally long period of time, which most people do not do. Many people are not willing to pay this extra money on a car that is supposed to be good for the environment, but some people do. Hybrid cars are better for the environment because they produce less greenhouse gasses. These are the emissions that specifically hurt the layers of the atmosphere and are among other emissions that are bad for our earth.
Hybrid cars burn less fuel and they burn it cleaner, so they produce less exhaust that can potentially cause smog in cities like Chicago, or that can hurt the atmospheric layers such as the ozone layer that so many people talk about being in danger. To some people, the extra cost of owning one of these vehicles is worth helping the environment, but to most it is not. People want fast cars that are fun to drive and that get decent gas mileage. Or a mom might want a van that can haul a lot of people and weight and still get decent gas mileage. A dad would want a truck that can pull a heavy load and do the heavy duty work and wouldn’t care about gas mileage. All of these are reasons why people don’t want a small, meek, gas sipping hybrid.
The first thing that makes most people shy away from buying a hybrid car is the price tag. They see that extra five or six thousand dollars and they say, “NO!” People want a durable car that gets good gas mileage and has room for a family and that is safe. All of these features can be purchased on a regular car that costs much less than a hybrid. The perfect example for this is the Honda Civic. This car comes in many trim levels, one for each type of consumer, minus the person looking for the truck. The Civic Sedan, a four door car with room for five people, starts at 15k and is the perfect car for a small family. This car gets 30mpg city and 40mpg highway which is very good by today’s standards. The Civic Hybrid, the same size as the Civic Sedan, costs 22k, that’s 7 thousand more, and gets an increase of only 19mpg city and 11mpg highway.
This means that they would not save enough money on gas to cover the 7k increase in price in under 10 years. Since the car gets better gas mileage, one would go to the pump less, but not enough to save that much money. The third is the Civic Si, this is the sporty version of the Civic that only comes with a manual transmission and is very quick. This car costs 21k, one thousand less than the hybrid. It is much faster is only has two doors. This car gets 23mpg city and 32mpg highway, not much worse than the Civic Sedan or hybrid, and is much faster and more fun. Why would a student pay one thousand dollars more for a car that is slower and more boring when the mileage increase isn’t that much, they wouldn’t. People want fun cars that get the job done and the Civic does that with great gas mileage and a low price, without having to be a hybrid car.
Another example of this concept is the Toyota Camry. This is the best selling family sized sedan in the United States. This car comes in many trim levels but the ones we will look at are the base Camry and the base Camry Hybrid. For 2007 this car got a gorgeous remodel as well as a new engine in the base Camry and they added the Hybrid model. The base Toyota Camry costs 18k and has many features needed for a small family to fit in the car along with a lot of luggage. Do not be confused though, this car can be seen driving down the road pimped out with 20″ (that’s really big) rims and banging sound systems by college guys. It can also be seen with pick stickers and fuzzy dice in the window being driven by a couple college girls on the way to the beach. This is a very pretty, versatile car. The base Camry gets 24mpg city and 34 mpg highway. This is very good for a full sized car and will get the owner a long distance before having to refill the tank.
The Camry Hybrid costs a pretty penny, but some say it’s worth it. This car gets 16mpg more city and 4mpg more highway than the base Camry. The huge gain in city mileage is due to the way Toyota makes their hybrid cars. They have the ability to switch fully from electric to gas power whereas the Honda Hybrid drive train can only go from minimal usage of each, but never fully switches. Toyota’s is called Hybrid Synergy Drive and uses the electric engine most when accelerating and charges the batter when braking. The braking actually charges the battery more than the gas engine, so the car is able to shine when driving around the city because of the constant starting and stopping, the car uses almost fully the electric engine.
This is why the Toyota Camry Hybrid gets such good gas mileage in the city. Lets face it though, a car that big won’t be found driving around the city, most people will be office executives taking long drives from offices to home or to customers and they will not benefit as much. The Camry Hybrid only gains 4mpg over the base Camry on the highway so many people do not agree with spending eight thousand dollars more for the hybrid. This is definitely not cost efficient for the owner. People will like the 18k price of the base Camry because it comes with so many standard options and is ready to fulfill any soccer mom’s fantasy.
When talking about Hybrid cars, there is one that stands above the rest in durability, functionality, style, price, and ability to save gas. That car is the Toyota Prius. This car could be the only argument one could make against this paper. It costs 22k and it does not come with a non hybrid counterpart. This car does cost more than say, a Corolla, but it has more room than a Corolla, and slightly less room than a Camry. It is in a class of its own and its only close competitor is the Honda Insight. The Prius is able to get 60mpg city and 51mpg highway. This is the best mpg rating of any production car and it actually is selling. You can see a Toyota Prius on just about any trip that you take and it does have unique styling that always turns heads.
Although it costs more, the mpg rating of this car are almost double that of the nearest non hybrid competitor making it almost worth the extra price tag. However, the cost of maintaining such a highly complex car is greater than that of the base Civic or Corolla and will end up costing more. The Honda Insight, the other close competitor, costs 21k and gets 60mpg city and 66mpg highway. Those numbers were only the estimated numbers and consumers found them to be too high and actually got less mileage than that. Also, Honda doesn’t make this car anymore so a customer would only be able to buy it used. These cars all shown, people will not save money on buying a hybrid car.
The gas prices right now are not high enough to allow people to save money at the pump if they own a hybrid car. They will get better gas mileage and they will go to the pump less but they are only saving a small amount of money each year. If somebody spends 30 dollars every two weeks on gas in a regular car, that would cost them about 780 dollars a year.
A hybrid car could probably go an extra week without needing gas so that would cost them 520 dollars a year on gas. They would be saving a mere 260 dollars a year on gas. If the hybrid car costs 7k more, then they would need to have the car for about 26 years to cover the extra cost of the car. No way would somebody own a car for that long this day and age. That is only covering the cost of the actually sticker price and not the extra costs of owning the vehicle, like fixing it and stuff, which would have to be done since the car would need to get fixed in the 26 year period.
Many websites do a calculation of the cars which would be the lowest true cost to own. One website listed the Prius and the Camry Hybrid under their list of cars costing around 25k that would be the lowest true cost to own. This is excluding how long one would own the car for and how high the gas prices are. Also they did not list any hybrid under the coupes which are lowest cost to own and they don’t say customer reviews on how fun these cars are to drive.
The fact is that most people do no see it necessary to buy a car that costs so much more when they could get a car for less money that will cost them less money in the long run. People also want fun cars that will cost the same, but be much more fun to drive, even though they aren’t amazing at gas mileage, they still succeed in getting decent gas mileage, so people buy them. Also the hybrid drive train is not good for hauling heavy loads that is why there aren’t many pickup truck hybrids out there if any. Hybrid cars may cost more causing people to shy away from buying them, but they are better for the environment.
People don’t realize that driving a car can be the largest form of pollution. We drive by a paper mill and see all the smoke coming out of the stacks and say to ourselves how bad that must be for the air. Meanwhile we are sitting in a car, that when grouped up with many cars, is much worse than the thing we are complaining about. Pollution from cars causes smog, which deteriorates the ozone layers closest to us. This can cause for major extremes of hot and cold in the seasons. The atmosphere helps moderate the temperatures on earth by holding in heat during the winter and shielding out heat during the summer. Big cities have problems with smog which is a constant haze in the air caused by so many cars in one place emitting gasses bad for the environment. Cars also have toxins in their exhaust that can cause acid rain or global warming, and even cause cancer in some people. The water supply on earth is never growing or shrinking, the water we have is all that we get.
When there is acid rain, that water has to go somewhere and may sometimes end up in drinking water or people who have wells might take showers in it. This is how it can cause cancer in as many as 1,500 people a year. There are many bad gasses that come from motor vehicles, but the three main ones are hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. Hydrocarbons react with nitrogen. The best times for this to happen are in the summer when there is lots of sunlight and really high temperatures. This reaction causes something called “ground level ozone”. This is a type of gas that is supposed to be in the atmosphere but is in our breathing air. This can cause many things such as eye irritation, wheezing, and even permanent lung damage. Nitrogen Oxides also cause the formation of ground level ozone and are major factors in causing acid rain and water pollution.
Finally, carbon monoxide, which is an odorless and invisible gas, causes a slowing of oxygen in the bloodstream which can impair one’s senses and cause permanent mental damage. Cars are responsible for around 90 percent of the carbon monoxide in the air in most urban areas. All of these gasses can be reduced by driving a hybrid car, but the best way to reduce them is public transportation. Studies show that a person who uses mass transit, such as buses or subways, for a year, instead of driving to work, can keep about 9.1 lbs of hydrocarbons, 62.5 lbs or carbon monoxides, and 4.9 lbs of nitrogen oxides from being put into the air (Emissions).
Other ways of reducing pollution from cars in the air are things such as driving at steady speeds, buying newer cars that have fewer bad emissions, keeping your car in good running condition, or even not topping off at the pump. People can help the environment by buying a hybrid car, but that isn’t the best way. Using public transportation or even riding a bike if possible, would do a lot more good, and save somebody a lot of money. By using public transportation and by carpooling, people can save an estimated three thousand dollars a year (Emissions). Other numbers show that idling and stop and go traffic alone use 753 millions of gallons of gasoline per year (Emissions). People don’t realize how much better it would be to just use public transportation. Instead, we want to go on our own schedules and have the freedom to go where we want when we want, and that costs money and causes pollution.
The cost of a hybrid car over a regular car is too much. People will not buy a hybrid car when they can get a vehicle with very good gas mileage for much less money. They can get all the bells and whistles of a hybrid but spend around seven thousand less. Teenagers don’t want a slow gas sipping car, they want a fast car with a loud exhaust. They can’t get this from a hybrid car so they wouldn’t spend the money to buy a slow hybrid when they could have a fast sports car. A dad needs his truck to haul stuff around and hybrid cars don’t offer that. The mom needs the van to have a safe car for her family that can fit them and their luggage. The cost of gas prices right now is not nearly high enough to benefit the consumer who owns a hybrid car.
There is some small benefit, about 300 dollars a year, but that would take 20 years to equal just the increased price of owning a hybrid, not to mention the added costs of the upkeep of such a complex car. People want the lowest price with the best package, and hybrid cars don’t offer that. While they do offer benefits to the environment, people don’t realize how important the environment is and they won’t spend the extra money for benefits they won’t see in their lifetime. Overall the hybrid car is not worth buying because the cost is just too great. Not only is it not worth it, but people are not buying them enough to make a difference to the environment anyways, further diminishing their value. Hybrid cars are not worth buying right now and will not be for many years to come.
Courtney from Study Moose
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