Are high gas prices making you wince too? I am sure you have been using the Ostrich Technique like me and ignoring the rising fuel prices but eventually you need to come up for air. Let's face it the problem is only going to get worse according to news reports. Perhaps now is as good a time as any to begin looking into more fuel efficient alternatives. Maybe it's time I switch my vehicle and start looking at more fuel efficient options.
Now let me paint you a quick picture about my life-style and SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle). It is only 6 years old and has been fully maintained and therefore it runs really well and is in great condition. I am either strapping a kayak on the roof rack or wheeling my mountain bike into the back. I've spent the night in it (alone of course) while camping because the tent I was planning on using had a leak. In the winter I enjoy pushing through the snow on my often un-plowed street, and yes I do pay city taxes! These are moments where I really value and enjoy my SUV. However, I find myself at the pumps more often grinding my teeth while anxiously awaiting the click of the handle. Scary? I think so.
Here lies my dilemma. Do I have to forego my enjoyment of an SUV to save money and help the environment? Apparently I do not. Here is an option. I trade in my current SUV for a newer fuel-efficient one, perhaps even a Hybrid.
More and more vehicle manufacturers are racing towards designing the optimum fuel saver. The Natural Resources Canada website was a good start for me to research which vehicles are fuel efficient. Here they list the ecoENERGY awards for vehicles that top their categories in fuel efficiency. The categories ranged from 2-seater vehicles such as the Smart Car to very large vans such as the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van. Yes the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van won an award for fuel consumption but only when compared to other vans in it's respective category. This doesn't mean that the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van is great on fuel; it says that this particular van is better than other similar vehicles. Taking top honours in the special purpose vehicle category was the Ford Escape Hybrid. It seems large enough for my gear and it has a rugged and sporty look. I am very impressed with the low fuel consumption for city driving and I am looking forward to taking it out for a test drive. I also want to mention the Toyota Highlander Hybrid as a contender but I will stick with the Ford Escape Hybrid for this scenario.
Now lets talk about the cost. The cost for me to continue driving my current SUV would be about $3388 per year for fuel at a price of $1.10 per litre. If I was to switch to a hybrid like the Escape I would pay about $1232 per year to drive the same amount of mileage. The annual savings would be $2057 and 28 less trips to the pumps! As price of fuel increases, so would my savings.
The savings don't stop there if you reside in Canada. The Canadian Government initiated the ecoAUTO rebate program in March of 2007 as an incentive to promote fuel-efficient vehicles. For the Ford Escape Hybrid I would enjoy a rebate of $2000 provided I meet the criteria.
I get a newer vehicle, I save fuel and I get a rebate on the initial purchase, great. I then use these savings to reduce my new monthly payments, even better. But what are the costs associated with driving a Hybrid that are different from what I am used to? That will be a topic for later discussion as I continue my research. I will be heading out to test drive the Ford Escape Hybrid and look for my next article where I will compare the Ford Escape to my 2002 Nissan Xterra SE. If the Escape Hybrid is as good as it seems I may hold off on asking my credit card company for a credit limit increase to cover fill-ups.