Thursday, June 12, 2008

Greenie & Techie: The Path To My First Car, Part 4

Way before gasoline price reached almost $4, I’ve been reading about alternative auto energy and am now strongly considering a hybrid.

My reasons: [1] It will allow maximum fuel economy with its impressive MPG rate, specially with current skyrocketing fuel prices. [2] It will help reduce my carbon footprint. And [3] it, in its own small way, will help curtail dependence on foreign oil. The only self-serving reason for a hybrid purchase is [4] I’m curious and excited to have a techie car.

The Internet is a massively useful research tool. I cannot imagine how we survived without it at the advent of the GenX years. It has made my car shopping very informative, although quite cumbersome as well with all the knowledge out there.

A hybrid car is highly expensive to buy compared to regular fuel cars, but you will get your money’s worth vis-a-vis fuel economy after at least two to three years. Its resale value also holds its own against less expensive non-hybrid cars. A Consumer Reports investigation sheds light on this.

It will do little, if at all, to curb global warming unless industry-driven economies make vital changes in their practices, but at least, in its own way, it makes a difference by emitting less carbon waste. More important than the immediate realization of a predicted change it will cause is the timeless principle it stands for.

Despite the steep sticker price and subsequent monthly financing and interest expense, the over-all cost to own and maintain a hybrid is a winner as interestingly estimated in a Yahoo! Green article.

Other gas alternatives are promising but disadvantageous at this point. Biodiesel, made from vegetable oil, burns cleaner but costs more than petro diesel. It is only available in the Midwest.

Hydrogen fuel cell, with zero or almost zero harmful emission, is still in embryonic stage and experts estimate it will not see market light until 20 years later.

Ethanol has a similar story to biodiesel. It's made from corn and available only in the Midwest, and it also produces less carbon emission but costs more than today’s gasoline. This Guide to Driving Green by Consumer Reports works as an umbrella page with many links to interesting topics.

After many days of scanning paper trails, reading article after article, comparing cars online, jotting down notes, and sneaking into various chat rooms of car aficionados - I’ve finally made a choice.

Subaru does not have a hybrid sedan so that leaves me with only Toyota’s Camry and Prius. The Prius is less pricey and delivers more MPG than the Camry. The Prius is also a car built with “hybrid” in the forefront of its concept agendum. Nissan has the Altima Hybrid which returns 32 MPG overall, but there is no data for owner cost and satisfaction and predicted reliability being relatively new. The company's overall reliability, though, ranges from average to below average.

And so the chosen one... ladies and gentelmen... is a sparkling Prius!

Thumbnails of more Prius videos will appear after playing the above video. They range from straightforwardly informative to truly inspirational to outrageously funny.

Okay. I now know what I'm going to get so I'm almost there. Say, how good a deal could it be to buy a second hand over a brand new? What about finance over lease? That only means one thing - back to research.

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