Read the full report | Exciting new hybrid vehicles offer the promising combination of the full-sized cars, trucks and SUVs that Americans want with the higher fuel efficiency Americans need to reduce petroleum consumption, lower the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and take advantage of lower tailpipe emissions that result from burning less fuel per mile.
Hybrid vehicle options have expanded beyond the first curiosities like the original two-seater Honda Insight to include comfortable sedans, and the all-wheel-drive trucks and SUVs preferred by many Maine families. Like most new technologies, there is a premium charged for a hybrid over a similar conventional vehicle, but drivers have been buying relatively low numbers of hybrids for reasons beyond the simple economics. These reasons include the experience
of driving the latest technology, the real desire to use fewer gallons of fuel, the personal involvement in lowering environmental pollution, and the “green” image that hybrid drivers enjoy.
The economic advantages of hybrid vehicle ownership are real, and the calculations vary as the fuel prices increase and decrease as the worldwide demand for petroleum fluctuates. A study of seven assorted new hybrid vehicles by The Maine Heritage Policy Center shows fuel savings of between 143 and 258 gallons per year for hybrid drivers traveling 15,000 miles annually versus a similar non-hybrid vehicle. Whether gasoline prices are $2 or $4 or $6 a gallon, the fuel cost savings are realized by hybrid drivers each time they fill up.