Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hybrids not holding their own


Until last year, when Congress nicely asked, the EPA hadn't revised its methods of testing fuel economy for 20 years. Not surprisingly, what they found is that people today drive very differently than they did back in 1985.

We drive a lot faster. We have more traffic. We stop and go more. So starting in 2008, information about gas mileage on the sticker of new cars will more accurately reflect current driving conditions. That means 10 to 20% less mileage in city driving and 5-15% less in highway use.

No big deal, since hybrids are the wave of the future right? Maybe not. The new ratings fare even worse for them, with ratings for city driving decreasing an average of 20-30% from current claims. Some other reasons why the hybrid frenzy may come to a screeching halt:

1. The tax xredit offered for buying a new hybrid this year expires once a manufacturer sells 6,000 of them. This is estimated to happen in April.

2. New studies have shown that the cost of owning a hybrid for five years is actually more expensive that owning a gas powered car- OUCH!

3. The resale value of hybrids isnt clear yet, meaning when you are ready to get rid of yours, no one may want to buy it.

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