Buy a Hybrid or Efficient Gas Vehicle

If you're in the market for a car, consider going electric.  However, if you're not ready for an electric vehicle, check out your options for a fuel efficient gas or hybrid car.  Models start as low as $15,000 and can save $50/month or more on fuel costs!  There are also lots of options including buying used to save even more.

Medium
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5730
Points ?
$660
Annual Savings
$2,000 - $3,000
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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0
kWh Electricity
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Therms Natural Gas
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213
Gallons Gas
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Gallons Water
  • Save money and vehicle fuel
  • Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution

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Overview

The Action
We will buy or lease a hybrid or highly efficient gas powered vehicle that gets at least 40 mpg to replace a less efficient vehicle.
Is this action for me?
If you own a vehicle, this action is for you.
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime by anyone.
How long will it take?
Longer - time to research models, test drive and purchase.
What is the cost?
Generally around $2,000 - $3,000 or more for a down payment to purchase or lease. Check for rebates or tax credits in the resources section.

Benefits

  • Save money and vehicle fuel

  • Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution

Resources

Rebate/Credit

Apply for up to $7,000 in rebates for EVs or other clean vehicles from the CA Air Resources Board.

Take advantage of this federal tax credit while it lasts.

Programs

Get paid to turn in your working older car or small truck.

Information

Learn more about emissions ratings and fuel efficiency of gas vehicles.

Find information and resources at the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Resource Center

The Basics

Choosing a car with an average fuel economy of 40 mpg or more can save $40-50/month or more on fuel costs. Hybrid cars are now available in many different models, styles and sticker prices to fit almost everyone’s preferences. If you are not quite ready to choose an electric vehicle and are ready to purchase, consider a hybrid or high efficient gas car.

Checklist

Learn about the benefits of a hybrid
Consider hybrid vs fuel efficient gas vehicles
Check the fuel economy and emissions stats
Check for perks

Lots of options

With new regulations on fuel efficiency and many years of high gas prices, many car manufacturers are significantly increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles.  Even though gas prices have dropped recently, they will rise in the future, and more efficient cars are still a very good investment.  If you are not ready to choose an EV, a high efficiency car is a good choice.  With all these new developments, there are many more options to choose from, from SUVs to compacts to luxury models.

In general, a high efficiency car will cost around $2,000-$3,000 more on the purchase price; however, you will generally make this up in lower fuel costs over the first 2-5 years of driving the car.  Efficient cars also tend to retain their value on the resale market, increasing your financial benefit even further.  If the model you are looking at has a steeper price bump for fuel efficiency, consider checking out other models.  There are two basic types of high efficiency cars - the hybrid and the high efficiency gas only vehicle.

Consider going electric

Before completely ruling out an electric car, take a minute to read a bit more and consider a test drive!  Electric vehicles are so much cheaper to operate than gas cars and are coming down in price very quickly.  Within the next 1-2 years, the prices for many EVs will be similar to gas vehicles.  The ranges are also expanding and in 2018 there are affordable models with 200+ mile ranges making them a viable options for most drivers.  The best part - they are fun to drive!  Learn more about the many perks to going electric on our EV page.

What is a hybrid car?

A hybrid is a vehicle that combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor and batteries.  Why add batteries?  Because they are 3 times more efficient than gasoline engines.  Combining electric power with gas gives hybrids about 30% better fuel efficiency than comparable gas only cars.  There are a few different hybrid configurations - some hybrids can run only on electricity for a certain number of miles, and others are always using a combination of both gas and battery to power the vehicle.  The models that can run only on electricity for some miles tend to be the most efficient.  Hybrid batteries typically have an 8 year warranty.

Hybrid vs high efficiency

There are a few things to consider when choosing hybrid vs high efficiency gas power.

Hybrid:  Excellent fuel efficiency - up to 50+ mpg, extra fuel efficiency for city driving, lower air pollution and climate emissions, a bit higher price (which is generally made up through lower fuel costs.)

High efficiency gas vehicle:  Good fuel efficiency - up to around 40 mpg, slightly lower price options than hybrids, extra fuel efficiency for highway driving, higher emissions than hybrid cars.  Since these vehicles use only gas, overall they have higher carbon and air pollution emissions.  Some high efficiency vehicles use diesel fuel which tends to be more polluting than regular gas.  

Check the stats before you buy:  Check the U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy website to compare vehicle mileage ratings and emissions.  For emissions, once you find the car you are looking for, click on the “Energy and Environment” tab to see ratings for both greenhouse gas emissions and the EPA Smog Rating (air pollution).

Check for perks

Many areas still have incentive programs for hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles including rebates, tax incentives, carpool lane passes and parking perks.  Check the resources section above for more information.