The hybrid version stickered for $31,500!
I read an article in either the Arizona Republic or the Phoenix Gazette in the early 1990s about a guy in this area converting his 1980s vintage Ford Escort from being gas powered to solar powered.
I remember he was a middle class guy who had an aptitude for that sort of thing and, although the car was comically ugly to look at, it would go about 100 miles on solar power. I don’t know any other details other than in the picture it looked like a Rube Goldberg invention with those big panels on the roof. It was ugly but effective and saved the guy some gas money.
In 1996, the EV-I electric car from General Motors emerged only to disappear after a couple years. It was leased through Saturn dealerships and was well liked by many customers. Eventually GM decided to get rid of them in spite of customer protests as they were considered unprofitable. They called in all the leases and the cars were crushed. GM obviously doesn’t screw around when they take a car off the market!
Fast forward to 2012 where the best the car companies can come up with in their green mentality are hybrids or electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. Since the Leaf and Volt are basically jokes, we’ll dispense of them quickly. If you can get 100 miles range from them you are doing well.
The cost is too much even with the extravagant rebates the feds offer. The Volt’s battery weighs about 400 pounds and the car has been known to catch on fire. At about $40,000 these heaps are grossly overpriced and not practical for Americans. Strangely, under the Opel badge, the Volt is the car of the year in Europe. It must be because of the shorter distances driven.
Much more popular for the green freaks are the hybrids but they have their minuses too in spite of what the showroom salesman may tell you. They will rave about the gas mileage and in many cases, although not all, the hybrid will get better gas mileage than a standard gas powered engine. However, because of the increased cost of a hybrid, anywhere from $2000 to $10,000, it takes a long time for it to pay off in savings from gas expense. Repairs are also more expensive especially if the battery needs replacing. That can cost in the $3,000 range.
An R. L. Polk survey shows that the Lincoln MKZ and the Toyota Prius were the only hybrids that saved owners money over a six year period. However, that was based on gas costing $8 per gallon. So, the green enthusiasts might say, “Yeah, but hybrids are good for the environment!” Not necessarily since there are large batteries involved which can strain the environment if needed to be disposed. Also, since manufacturing includes making two engines, the environment can be affected by that. Since most of the work is still being done by the gas engine, the environment is still affected from exhaust although a bit less.
To sum up, I would not buy a hybrid. I think the technology is too complicated with the two engines and many gas powered cars get as good if not better mileage without driving a contraption. One test showed a BMW getting better mileage than a Prius.
For now, my gas powered Hyundai is looking pretty good.