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Hybrids Are Not Always Better

Updated on September 30, 2013

It's true. Being "green" or environmentally friendly costs more and is not always cost effective in the long run. Electric cars are great if, a big if, you only live in a world where you drive in a small urban area, 100 miles or less a week. Anything else, they are impracticable and expensive. Then, if you hold onto the car for a long time and its batteries fail, cost of replacing them is easily $5-8,000.

Using bio-fuels are nifty and really makes you feel close to the earth and saving it (while the rest of the world could care less) but in some diesels, the fuel clogs the fuel filter and the vehicles simply do not perform as well, plus finding a fuel pump is problematic, it is worse than diesel in that respect (not all gas stations carry diesel).

So, some cities, like Santa Rosa, are finding out this the hard way. Years ago, the city switched to hybrid city buses to save fuel and reduce emissions and faded out the diesels. They have come to the decision that buying the$650,000 hybrid green bus has not been cost effective to the much cheaper $450,000 diesel with clean technology (like VW cars have). By buying the cheaper buses, the city will be able to retire many of its older "dirty" diesels. That was not the only reason, the city also found out that maintenance and engine replacement of hybrids was more frequent and more costly when happening at 185,000 miles.

As to MPG, well, it is nothing to spit about either. The hybrids get about 5 MPG, new diesels get 4 MPG, the older dirty diesels get 3.5 MPG. The city was very impressed with the new clean diesel technology and diesel engines are the toughest, going free of problems into the 250,000 + mile range. Just ask any VW diesel car owner who gets 40-45 MPG on the highway and 30 MPG in the city.

To make the purchase, the city sold four of its hybrid buses to Gardena, CA. for the price of one (obviously, Santa Rosa REALLY wanted to get rid of them) even though they have 11 of them. New York City is finding out the same thing and have not bought anymore.

What many cities are doing are the opposite of what the state wants them to do. The state wants them to discourage the use of diesel because of the pollution but the carbon footprint in hybrids is not much better when batteries are taken into account.

Hybrid technology is still a work in progress.

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