On paper, hybrid cars sound amazing – they’re supposed to be fuel efficient, cheap to run, and environmentally friendly. If you’ve just come away from a BMW service, and your freshly tuned-up vehicle still feels like a gas-guzzler, then it can be tempting to trade it in for a shiny new hybrid. Is that a good idea? Unfortunately, even experts can’t agree on whether a hybrid car is a good investment.
Reasons to Buy a Hybrid
Hybrid cars offer the best of both worlds, using both a regular gas engine and an electric motor. This means they handle just like that gas-powered car that you just got back from the BMW service centre. But they’re quieter, and more fuel efficient, as they also have that electric motor to boost the power of the gas engine when overtaking, or replace it entirely when you are cruising around town. When you’re not using the accelerator, the engine shuts down, saving fuel, which means that you pump less pollution out into the air.
These days, hybrids are available in most styles and flavors. You can find everything from midsize family cars to SUVs and even full-size pickups in hybrid form.
Yes, you’ll pay a bit more, but you can offset that by trading in your old vehicle, and, depending on where you live, you might get some money back from the government for getting rid of a gas car and swapping it for a hybrid.
Reasons Not to Buy a Hybrid
Sadly, for many families, the extra cost of investing in a hybrid is just too much for the wallet to be able to cope with – especially if government assistance isn’t available for the model you want.
The fuel savings offered by hybrids are real, but they aren’t necessarily as substantial as you think. For a start, the batteries they carry make them incredibly heavy. It could take several years for the fuel savings to make up for the extra up-front cost. Of course, if gas prices rise again, then the savings will be more substantial, but that’s a gamble. And if you’re a diesel-powered car owner, then the issue gets even murkier because diesel cars already enjoy good mileage.
The hybrid vs gas vs diesel vs electric argument isn’t likely to go away any time soon. Hybrid cars are still a relatively new thing, and the technology is still maturing. If you’re planning on buying a new car soon, then a hybrid vehicle could be an investment, but if you’re happy with the car you’ve got, there’s really no reason to rush to the showroom at the moment.
In the next few years, it’s likely that gas and diesel vehicles that are incredibly efficient mileage-wise will be released. If these cars also fare well on emissions tests, then they could be a cheaper, but just as environmentally sound, option than hybrid cars. If you’re not in the market for a new car right now, then it might be a good idea to wait and see what’s announced at the next couple of motor shows.
If you’re more concerned about the impact your car has on the environment than you are about saving money, then the best advice could be to try changing your driving habits. Even driving a hybrid produces some emissions, so using your car less often, if possible, is the best idea.