When it comes to getting around on four wheels, there’s no shortage of options. Used or new? Mid-sized or mini? Hybrid or plug-in?
While not the headlines grabbers that all-electric cars have been, hybrids are still a relatively new technology. When it comes down to it, most people still don’t really know what differentiates a hybrid from its peers. (In case you’re wondering, hybrids use gas but re-generate their own electricity from the engine and brakes).
And while hybrid cars claim a bigger chunk of the automobile market every year, they’re still an an exception rather than the rule. Part of this reluctance to adopt can be blamed directly on price: even used models will take a bigger bite out of your wallet than a comparable gas guzzler. But then many claim that a hybrid will recoup this cost in gas savings fairly quickly. So what’s a cash-strapped earth-lover to do?
Check out the infographic below for a more in-depth discussion of whether hybrids make “cents.” Then, keep reading to find out how some people are driving them for a fraction of the cost and none of the commitment.
So. It seems that the uptick in hybrid purchases was probably due to the attractive government incentives offered when Uncle Sam was looking for a way to convince recession-stricken Americans to buy something…anything! to boost the economy. Now that those incentives have begun to disappear, the sticker prices have climbed skyward, scaring off bargain-hunters.
Now, here’s the secret tip I promised: there’s a way to get behind the drivers seat of the newest, neatest hybrid cars, without going into debt up to your eyeballs. It’s called sharing.
Car sharing, to be more precise. This wildly successful form of collaborative consumption has taken America (and indeed the world) by storm. Car sharing programs, like Zipcar, Getaround, RelayRides and Car2Go, make it possible to access a car, possibly even your neighbors car, for a fraction of the cost of owning own. Gas, insurance and maintenance included. And many of them make it a point to offer hybrids and all-electric vehicles.
iGo, the first car sharing program in Chicago, recently announced the addition of the Mitsubishi i MiEV and Nissan Leaf electric vehicles to its fleet, which already boasted hybrids from Honda and Toyota. Zipcar has been adding battery electric and plug-in hybrids to their fleet, as have others,” reports Don Anair for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “BMW’s DriveNow program in San Francisco has a fleet of battery electric ActiveE’s for rent, while the Car2Go program in San Diego offers EV Smart Car rentals by the minute. Houston is getting in the mix too, with EV car sharing as part of its city municipal fleet.”
Rates for car sharing programs range from less than $10 for an hour, to several hundred for a yearly unlimited membership. Last time I checked, keeping even a hybrid gassed up for a year cost way more than that. So if you’re interested in reaping the environmental benefits of a hybrid, but don’t want the burden of ownership, sharing could be the happy medium you’ve been searching for.
Image via Thinkstock