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Hot Hybrids for Today and Beyond

Posted Oct 30 2008 3:20pm


If you have filled up at the gas pumps lately, you have noticed that we are again over the $3.00 per gallon mark, at least in my neck of the woods. According to news reports, and my wallet, this is unseasonably high. Typically gas prices jump before the summer months, so OPEC and the oil companies can rip us off right before that long family road trip or trek to summer camps. Another big thank you to George W!

I have been looking into getting a new car once my lease is up, and I seriously need to consider vehicles with higher fuel efficiencies. My current vehicle gets 15city/20 highway which sucks and it costs $75 a week to fuel. That is absurd, and the carbon emissions are horrible too. So what are the choices? I am leaning clearly towards a hybrid or electric car, but there are not that many to choose from, yet. And wait a minute here, what about the luxurious appointments, the satellite radio and the Corinthian leather? Do I have to give up all the goodies to be green?

Well, if money is no object, and you are childless or drive solo, then the answer is no, you don't have to give up the goodies. Enter the Tesla Roadster. This is a smokin' hot car; George Clooney is on the waiting list, naturally. The lines on this car are simply beautiful (even as a chick I have to admire it), and allegedly, this car is about performance, not just looks. This baby goes 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, rivaling even the highest performing sports cars on the market. And the beauty of it is this: zero emissions! It's 100% electric...hopefully the batteries work right? Actually, production is delayed partly due to this very reason. Tesla does plan to come out with 2 lower priced models, one in the $50,000 range and one below that somewhere. Check out the specs at the above link.

Given my familial status, that one doesn't work, plus its too expensive anyway. Other options? The Chevrolet Volt. Its a concept car at this point, and is a combo hybrid and electric, and its a really nice looking too. Unlike every other car Chevy makes, they finally figured out that we consumers want something that doesn't look like a tin can on wheels. This vehicle is due out in 2010, if it ever makes it to production. I like it, and you can find it at http://www.chevrolet.com/electriccar/.

As far as vehicles you could buy today, there is a "decent" selection. Honda offers the Accord and Civic hybrids, Saturn's Aura is on the market, Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUV's are available (Bill Clinton opts for the Mercury), and Toyota seems like the most comprehensive dealer with the Camry, the Highlander and the good 'ole Prius. I have heard that the tax credits have expired on the Toyota models, but check this out before buying. And also, Lexus offers an SUV and the luxury LS600 hL too. In my opinion, they offer the goodies but the fuel efficiency is subpar and the emissions are too high. So what's the point?

Another one I don't get is the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban Hybrid. Those monsters get only about the 15/20 mpg that I get already with a regular car, and the emissions are just a bad! What is the point, Chevrolet?

Enough whining and complaining-I feel much better now. It seems to me that you might be giving up some goodies if you buy an alternative fuel vehicle in 2007 although the Prius does offer leather, satellite radio, GPS and a few other bells and whistles, so it's not impossible. Do you homework, and don't forget the tax credit piece of it which is important. Lease a car for 36 months and by the end of the term, you will have serious options. A JD Power and Associates report claims that US hybrid-electric car demand will see a 247% rise from 2007-2011, so if US auto markers want to start making money, they will have to show us the goods. Can't wait. Read more!

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