If you’re looking into buying an eco-friendly automobile, then you are probably already aware of some of the many benefits that such vehicles provide for the environment (not to mention your own health and that of future generations). Reduced carbon emissions from exhaust can lead to less pollution and a deceleration (and possible reversal) of global warming. What you may not know is how these cars can save you money. A lot of people seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that buying an eco-friendly vehicle will cost significantly more than other cars. But the truth is, with more companies putting hybrids and electrics on their production line, prices have dropped and quality has improved so that you can find a comparable car in almost any class.
You won’t necessarily pay more for a green car than you would for any other new car on the market today (although you might not pay less, either). And you might be eligible for government tax incentives to cut the cost even more. Plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles could net you up to a $7,500 return at the federal level (plus up to $2,000 towards a charger installation) and some states offer additional incentives (California gives up to $5,000). Even if you’d rather buy a regular car and pay a little extra to convert it to biodiesel, you can save in the long run.
The first way you can cut costs is at the gas pump. Literally every eco-friendly vehicle will save you money in this department. Hybrids will allow you to run on electricity at least part of the time, so you could cut your fuel bill in half. Even running diesel or biodiesel, although a bit more expensive per gallon, will deliver greatly improved fuel efficiency so that you’re saving money overall (you could double your gas mileage by switching over to a car that runs on alternative fuel). And electric cars, of course, require only charging (which is estimated to equal less than a dollar per gallon).
But there are other ways that you can save, as well. You might think that the maintenance for an eco-friendly vehicle would be higher since they have specialized parts, but this is not always the case. For example, cars that run on diesel and biodiesel tend to need only one service for every three that you would get for a regular car (oil change every 10,000 miles for new models). And electric cars only have a handful of moving parts (unlike the hundreds found in internal combustion engines), so maintenance is pretty minimal (although you will shell out quite a bit if your battery needs to be replaced).
You might even be able to save on insurance. Some forward-thinking providers are now offering a discount to drivers that are willing to switch over to an eco-friendly vehicle (a reduction of around 10%, generally). You’ll just have to check with your insurance company to see if they have added such a rebate. All in all, green vehicles are becoming a lot more appealing for the average consumer, not just because they do amazing things for the environment, but also due to the money they can save you now and over time.
Carol Montrose is a writer for The Truckers Report where you can read the latest trucking news, speak with other truckers in the owner operator forum, and learn more about engines like the Cummins ISX.