Can Going Green Save You Some Green?
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Monday night, we saw how some hybrid vehicles might make your neighbors green with envy. In Part Two of our special series, we're going to see if the technology is worth the price.
Every year when the city gets new cars, they buy about 10 percent hybrid vehicles like a Toyota Prius. But they say it's more of a statement they are going green, than about cutting costs. But for others you can save green--but it may take a few years.
Milton Reid is in charge of maintaining city vehicles. He says over the last several years, there's been great improvements in later models in accelerating and driving smoothly. But with an average mileage of just six thousand miles a year, going green isn't paying off...at least in the budget.
"At this point, it's really not a financial decision for us," says Reid. "But it's just about setting a good example."
The City of Gainesville has a lot of different cars in its fleet, in addition to the hybrids. For example a Ford Focus is comparable to the Prius but it costs about 8500 dollars less. However, the miles per gallon is a lot worse, about 20-25 mpg. But Reid says with the low mileage city employees put on the vehicles each year, it would take about 18 years to fully pay back the original purchase price.
So what about the cars we test drove Monday?
With a price-tag of $50,000, a hybrid Chevy Tahoe costs about $4000 more than a gas-powered Tahoe with similar features.
If you drive 15,000 miles a year, with 10,000 of that on city streets, you'll save about a thousand dollars a year on gas ($2,600 as opposed to $3,600) at $3.75 a gallon. That would take about 4 years to make up the difference.
But if you drive 15,000 miles a year, with 5,000 on city streets, you'll save about $600 dollars a year on gas ($2,600 as opposed to $3,200). That would take almost 7 years to get your money back from the purchase price difference.
It takes even longer to make your money back in a Toyota Prius/Ford Focus comparison.
The Prius costs almost $8,000 more initially ($22,000 as opposed to $14,300). Using the same mostly city numbers as the Tahoe, there's a $900 difference a year ($1200 as opposed to $2,100). That would take about 9 years to make up the cost differential.
With mostly highway driving, it would take more than a decade to make up the cost difference. 10,000 mile highway driving and 5,000 mile city driving yields a yearly gas cost for the Prius at $1200. The Focus comes in at $1850. So it would take roughly 12 years.
More driving on the highway would make less sense (and cents) to choose a hybrid. Or if you planning a quick trade-in, the hybrid option may not be what you should look for.
But as gas prices get ever more expensive, for long-term owners and high mileage drivers, the pay-off can come a lot quicker.
But as Reid's car runs along with hardly a purr and no gasoline being used, going green can be worth it, even if it doesn't save green.
"I think it's important that we do all we can do to have a green city," says Reid. "And that goes for buildings and for automobiles."
Going green isn't just about a hybrid label on a car. There's a lot of easy things you can do around your home to help the environment. We'll explore that Wednesday night.
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