With the massive wave of energy-efficient cars and trucks that has hit the consumer automobile market in recent years, it's worth wondering what the deal is. It seems the Prius opened the hybrid electric vehicle floodgates and other automakers followed suit. Today, there are dozens of highway-capable electric cars on the market and available to public consumers.
But owning one of these revolutionary vehicles has its ups and downs. Here's a short list of pros and cons that many hybrid car owners experience.
Owning a hybrid electric vehicle can be extremely rewarding, with benefits ranging from saving money to saving the environment. Here are many of the upsides.
Nissan claims that its Leaf costs approximately a mere $2.75 in electricity costs to charge it from empty to full charge. The Nissan Leaf has a range of about 100 miles. With the national average price of gas hovering around $3.50 per gallon, it would cost around $10 to drive that distance in even the most fuel-efficient, compact, traditionally fueled car. It's hard to argue with those savings.
Electric car buyers generally enjoy a hefty tax credit from the federal government. For instance, the aforementioned Nissan Leaf is eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500. With price tags ranging from $18,000 for smaller economy vehicles to $68,000 for large luxury vehicles, that tax credit could make a dent in the initial investment.
While purchasing a car is rarely a trivial investment and costs can be intense, the initial cost is really just the beginning. Maintaining a vehicle is often more of a cost commitment than that initial purchase. That's not an issue for hybrid electric cars though. These cars don't endure the same level of stress that conventional combustion engines do. They also don't require the periodical oil changes and other routine maintenance their combustion predecessors need.
You'll still need to rotate the tires and there will surely be repairs, but the nature of the engine of a hybrid electric car is vastly less costly to keep up than combustible engines are.
It may seem that these vehicles are a godsend. Based on the pros listed, you might be wondering why everyone doesn't trade in their gas guzzlers for a slimmed-down hybrid version. Well, believe it or not, there are some cons to hybrid electric car ownership. Here are the major ones.
Electric car batteries usually don't allow for vehicles to drive more than 100 miles before needing to be recharged. This could make for a difficult family road trip, as you'll have to stop to charge every two hours or so. This could require the family to have another vehicle for this activity, which could defeat the purpose of buying an electric car.
Not including federal tax credits, a brand new hybrid electric car could run upward of $30,000, and $25,000 after. Granted, there are more economical options, like the Nissan Sentra, which runs around $20,000. After a 10% down payment, the monthly payments could really add up. There really isn't an option to buy used either; they’re so new to the market that they aren't expected to start making appearances on used lots in large numbers for several years.
Considering the frequency of charging mentioned earlier, the added strain on your electric bill will certainly impact your monthly bills even while saving you trips to the gas station. That cost can be offset somewhat if you do some shrewd consumer research, and if you are lucky enough to live in an area with a deregulated energy market. This in an emerging trend, with Texas energy providers leading the way, which offers much better rates to consumers.
Possibly the most blindingly negative fact of owning a hybrid electric car is the extreme lack of knowledgeable mechanics available. You could get lucky, but many owners of this type of vehicle have a very hard time tracking down an independent shop that is capable and willing to work on electric cars. Since the engines are so radically different from traditional combustion cousins, it's rare to find someone who knows the ins and outs of their mechanisms.
This means you'll likely be forced to go to a dealership for repairs, which means higher costs for parts and labor.
Owning a hybrid electric car certainly has its peaks and valleys. While they may be the perfect solution to some people's energy and budget concerns, they could be just the opposite for others. Think critically about the pros and cons listed here and do your own research into the models you're interested in purchasing before making any major decisions.