Here's the first in a series of commonly asked Questions about Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs).
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Q: How do I know if a hybrid car makes sense for me?
A: Even without gas at $3 a gallon, the economics of hybrids make a certain amount of sense, particularly if you find yourself driving a significant number of miles each year.
For example, let's say you drive 30,000 miles a year, and by purchasing a hybrid you can increase your fuel economy from an average of 30 MPG to 40 MPG. With gas at $2 a gallon, you'll save $500 in fuel costs each year. Whether a hybrid makes economic sense will depend upon the difference in the purchase price, minus any tax credit you may receive for buying a hybrid vehicle.
If you can pay off the difference in the amount of time you usually keep a car, it would make reasonably good economic sense to buy a hybrid. It's also worth noting that Toyota is beginning a program for certified used hybrids, so if you're thinking of going the used hybrid route but want the security of a dealer warranty, that might be a good choice.
Here's another consideration. Most of us now buy our vehicles using car loans. And while a hybrid may have a total cost that's $3,000 to $4,000 higher than its conventional version, you'll only pay a few bucks more per month on your loan - additional costs that might well be offset by the fuel savings you'll be getting right away.
There are other reasons to buy a hybrid, of course. You've got a bit of insurance against the chance that the price of gas will start going up again. And if gas does skyrocket, your savings will only increase. Finally, whatever happens, you'll be doing your part to reduce pollution, minimize greenhouse gasses, and reduce America's oil consumption, for which we wholeheartedly applaud you.
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