Purchasing a new car around the holidays as a gift for yourself or loved one is not uncommon. A giant red bow on the hood is standard and usual practice is to lead your unsuspecting recipient to the garage where you reveal the ultimate holiday surprise! This season there’s no shortage of vehicle incentives but as fuel costs increase, hybrid and electric vehicles are growing more attractive. With New Years upon us, here are some key considerations as we make 2014 a “greener” year.
In case you missed our last article on 5 innovative ways to go green this new year you can learn more here but if your in the market for a new eco-friendly ride, read on. There are a lot of variables to consider when evaluating electric and hybrid vehicles. The costs savings in fuel are typically cited as one of the best reasons to invest in alternative vehicles in addition to helping the environment. According to DailyFinance, gas prices averaged around $3.65 during the summer months, while an eGallon of electric fuel cost just $1.14. Consider these other insights:
Saving Money Despite Battery Costs
One common concern about hybrid and electric vehicles is the high cost of replacing the battery. These fuel cells don’t last forever on any vehicle, and it presents a significant cost to consumers who hope to save on fuel costs only to be hit with a battery replacement that runs into the thousands of dollars. Luckily, this was more of a concern in the early days of hybrid vehicles, especially with batteries wearing out every few years. But newer models are equipped with improved battery packs that create an economic advantage and even come with warranty protection.
For those able to get tax credits, or high-volume drivers who well exceed the national average of 15,000 driving miles every year, hybrids are much more financially and eco-friendly. Manufacturers are helping consumers out by offering nice warranties on the hybrid components of vehicles, so consumers are no longer as likely to get stuck with a big repair bill—a huge deterrent for early hybrid and electric buyers.
Higher Up-Front Cost
According to Edmunds.com, hybrid vehicles typically cost up to 20 percent more than their counterparts that run on gasoline. A high-end hybrid or electric vehicle can run more than $100,000. The up-front cost of these vehicles can be cost-prohibitive for some buyers.
Less Tax Credits Available
Purchasing a new vehicle is not a minor financial decision. Thanks to a variety of specialized lenders serving the Southeast and beyond, there are more options for leasing and financing than ever before. This is advantageous for car consumers, but it’s still important to do your research when it comes to purchasing incentives. While the federal government had been offering hefty tax credits to encourage consumer purchases of alternative vehicles, most of those credits have been phased out due to the growing market for hybrid and electric vehicles, according to Investopedia. Currently, a $7,500 tax credit is only available to plug-in hybrids that can be easily charged at public fueling stations. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tax Incentive Information Center to learn more.
Limited Driving Range
Most alt-fuel vehicles, but especially electric-only models, have more limited driving ranges than conventional gasoline vehicles. If you invest in one of these cars, consider the distance you can travel without making charging/re-fueling stops as you’ll be limited to areas where charging stations are available. Hybrids tend to be better for longer travel, since they can switch to gasoline consumption once the electric battery is drained. The Chevrolet Volt, for example, can only go 38 miles per charge when running on electric, but its gas tank can fuel another 343 miles of driving, according to CNN Money. The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, only runs on electric and has a maximum range of 83 miles, limiting its usage to local commuting. Consumers will need to weigh a vehicle’s capabilities against their expected usage when determining which alternative fuel vehicle best suits their circumstances.
Bottom line, if you’re look for a greener ride or want to be a more eco-friendly commuter in the new year, there’s not shortage of options and resources. Just make sure to keep up with the latest research and you’ll find the best solution to meet your needs.