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Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

No Green Compromises

I saw this blog about an Accenture survey of potential car buyers. It mentions that people likely won’t buy a green car unless it is superior in every way to a gasoline only car. The blog tends to lean towards the side of someone that doesn’t like hybrids. There’s a comment about why they look so bizarre, which seems odd to me. There are a lot of hybrids out there that look just like the gasoline versions. The Prius is shaped differently, but so is the Dodge Caliber. Are they really odd?

toyota-prius dodge_caliber_startech_fro

Are these really that different? I might argue the Prius has softer lines, which contribute to better gas mileage.

I think that there is a lot of fear out there for people in looking at hybrids. I have a few friends that are down on them, based on comments from other friends, that don’t seem right. I think there is some mis-information out there, as well as just some prejudice for no reason.

I have had friends, and strangers, come ask me about my Prius experience and if I recommend them. I think it’s a great car, but I do caution them that they ought to do some analysis. I had one guy actually send me a bunch of data on his driving habits, and I crunched numbers with him, arriving at the decision that a Prius didn’t make sense for him.

In 3 years, I’ve driven 60,000 miles. That’s 20k a year, and I think that at the current $2.75 a gallon, I think it saves me about $1000-1100 a year in gas over even something like a Ford Focus, which is listed as the same class by the government as a Prius.  If I compare to a minivan, which was what we considered, I’m more like $1500 a year.

That’s significant, and it means that my $4500 “hybrid tax” has been paid off. It actually paid off sooner since my first year we drove 26k miles and gas was $4/gal!

However if you drive more like 10-12k miles, and consider a better vehicle that gets closer to 30mpg, then it might be savings of more like $500 a year. If you have a of highway driving, then you might be saving less, so it doesn’t make sense.

Unless you just want the car.

Comments

Posted by Glenn Berry on 13 March 2010

Well, I still think a major part of the appeal of hybrids to many people is the idea (and perhaps the reality) of reducing their carbon emissions and reducing their gasoline usage. The economic payback is secondary.

Posted by Anonymous on 14 March 2010

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Posted by jcrawf02 on 15 March 2010

Glenn, have to disagree. Although that may work for folks with money to spend on it, getting the masses to buy into hybrids will require that the economics make sense first. Case in point, I really wanted to buy one, but after 'crunching the numbers' as Steve did above, ended up buying the lower end of the gas model, because my payback wouldn't have started (even with gas savings) until after I'd already *paid off the car*. Which didn't make economic sense to me.

Given the option for the same money, I'd agree with you, people will go with the green option. More money? They'll stick with carbon-spewing death machines.

Posted by Steve Jones on 15 March 2010

I think that there are a few people, a minority, that want to reduce carbon emissions here. Most people, I believe, would like to, but it takes a back seat to economics. Right now I'm not sure that there is a significant increase in the cost of building a hybrid, but there is a significant increase in the price. At $4500 on a $20k car (or $25k in my case), that's a 20-25% premium, which seems outrageous.

My experience paid off, and I like the car. Would I do it again? Not sure. At that point in my life, and with $4 gas, sure. Right now, with less driving taking place, I have to really crunch numbers and think about it.

Posted by Anonymous on 16 March 2010

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