If you’re in the market for a new car, Do Your Part when shopping.
Hybrids are all the rage but we wanted to find out how much they help the environment, if they will really help you save money and what other good alternatives there are. So we visited with Cam Stewart the General Manager of Honda Cars of Rock Hill for some answers.
First I asked him about the waiting list for a hybrid. “We’ve certainly have had a waiting list for the past six months, but they’ve freed up with the gas coming up under 3 dollars-a-gallon,” Stewart said.
When gas prices go up, so does the demand for hybrids. The reason is that hybrids use less gas because they are built with two engines. One engine is powered by electricity that recharges itself when you brake and the other is powered by gasoline.
Stewart described how a hybrid works, “When you’re sitting at a stoplight, the motor actually cuts off. When you pull off the brake, that’s when the motor re-engages. When you’re on the highway and you’re on cruising speed, the motor actually shuts down and it runs off the electronic motor.”
That means you’ll be filling up your gas tank less. A regular Honda Civic gets 36 miles to the gallon on the highway; the hybrid model gets 45.
Next we asked about the difference in cost between these two cars that look very similar except one runs on conventional technology. Stewart told us that the cost difference is about three thousand dollars. So when could you make that difference up in gas savings? If gas is going for more than 3 dollars a gallon it could take more than 13 years to make up the savings. But the savings on carbon dioxide emissions are more immediate. A Civic Hybrid creates three thousand pounds less carbon dioxide each year than a regular Civic.
Stewart added, “Hybrid is top of the mind awareness right now but there are other technologies which help us get better fuel economy.”
One of these things is variable cylinder management or VCM. It allows vehicles to shut off cylinders when cruising or slowing down, and that saves gas. “You can still have great power, you can still have a large vehicle without sacrificing fuel economy. It doesn’t have to be a 15 mile-per-gallon vehicle,” Stewart said.
But if a bigger vehicle isn’t your thing, there are some small cars out there with big benefits. Check out the Honda Fit which boasts 33 miles to the gallon! The car may be small, but the storage capabilities are huge. The back seats fold down so it acts more like a station wagon.
The bottom line is if you’re happy with your car, keep driving it. But if it’s time for you to get a new car, hybrids are one option. You can even get a tax credit if you buy one. But you should also look into vehicles that get more to the gallon — even those big SUVs. You can shop smart, save money and Do Your Part when you make your next new car purchase.