Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Why More People Don't Buy Hybrids
Forbes.com has a very good article about how and why many hybrid automobiles have not become big sellers. Many people buy the Prius because they have a personal desire to reduce their energy use, and perhaps because they would like to make a social statement about environmental protection. However, hybrid technology comes at quite a cost. For many consumers, a hybrid's price premium proves far too substantial; affordability becomes a major concern. Let's do the math. According to the EPA, a Prius averages 46 miles per gallon. A Toyota Corolla averages 29 miles per gallon. Suppose that the typical person drives 12,000 miles per year, with gas at $3 per gallon. The Prius owner saves $459 per year in gasoline expenses over the course of one year. However, the sticker price for a Prius exceeds that of a Corolla by approximately $7,000. In other words, it would take roughly 15 years for the Prius owner to recoup his or her extra investment ($7000 divided by $459 per year), and that doesn't even take into account the present value of money. In conclusion, I think hybrid technology is very promising, with great potential to help us reduce gasoline consumption and carbon emissions. However, the automakers have quite a way to go before they can make hybrid technology affordable for many consumers.