In an article in the Wall Street Journal, editor Mike Spector comments on how US buyers have now more hybrid options than ever. Unfortunately, they're still quite expensive. Yes, there are tax breaks available on some models and gas is still cheap but for most drivers they aren't an economical choice. On the other hand, Europeans benefit for lower taxes for fuel-efficient cars.

Hybrids are becoming a popular choice for Americans, as we see from increasing sales numbers. In the first seven months of this year, new hybrid-vehicle registrations nationwide rose 49 percent from the year-earlier period to 215,997, according to R.L. Polk & Co., an automotive-research firm in Southfield, Michigan. Hybrids make up about 2 percent of the US light-vehicle market.

Americans get a tax break to purchase a hybrid car but the more cars a company sells, the smaller the tax break is. Therefore, the Prius no longer benefits from such tax breaks. A similar situation is happening to Honda and will arrive, albeit later, to GM and Ford.

On the other side of the pond, fuel-efficient cars cost drivers fewer taxes: In Belgium, for instance, drivers with cars that emit less than 105 g of CO2/km get 15 percent of the price of the vehicle back. Europeans also face higher fuel taxes, which mean that they're paying twice what Americans pay at the pump. Diesel (except in the UK) has a lighter tax pressure, and so 50 percent of Europeans drive diesel cars. Although Mr. Spector notes that diesels have lower taxes for efficiency reasons, it was originally made not to punish the road freight and transport industry - the diesel car craze arrived later.

Continue reading to know about hybrid's efficiency, moneywise
First of all, a hybrid car is more expensive than a "normal" gasoline counterpart: the electric motor, the batteries and improved transmissions can add extra $2,000 or $7,000 to the final sticker price. So how many years do you need to compensate the extra purchase price?

According to a study by Edmunds, which is referred by Spector, sometimes you need 18 years to justify the purchase of the car, and sometimes you need just 2.



The figures might vary if you can get a better deal for your car or your city mileage really is higher than on the highway.

Then there are the issues of maintenance costs. Although since 1997 hybrid powertrains have showed a very remarkable reliability and are backed up by impressive warranties (such as the 100,000 miles/8 year promise with the Prius), there are some questions raised about what is going to happen when they need replacement.


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