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Hybrid Helper: New EPA Website Calculates Fuel Savings, Payback Period

Changing the equation.

by on May.18, 2012

The calculator shows most drivers will need 5 years to recover the added cost of the Toyota Prius C.

The recent run-up in fuel prices led to a surge in demand for hybrids like the Toyota Prius, which has been selling at record levels. Yet sales of gas-electric vehicles still lag well behind what proponents keep forecasting, accounting for barely 3% of the overall U.S. new vehicle market.

Why?  Well, that’s a matter of some debate, but for many potential buyers the issue is one of cost.  While there are a few models that carry no premium for their advanced powertrains – such as the Lincoln MKZ – most hybrids are more expensive than comparable models using gas power alone.  In some cases, the premium can be substantial, $5,000 or more.

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And so, while those hybrids might quickly save you money on gas, it can take years to break even on your up-front investment – what industry types call the “payback period.”

Or will it? A new calculator created by the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is designed to make it easy to calculate your fuel savings – and determine the payback period.


GM Adds Battery-Electric Vehicles to Plug-ins, Hybrids, E-REVs

Pure battery cars under development, but timing uncertain.

by on Jan.25, 2010

GM is moving forward on a range of pure battery-powered vehicles, well beyond the little NXR it will sell in India as part of a joint venture.

While General Motors plans emphasize hybrids, plug-ins and so-called extended-range electrics, like the Chevrolet Volt, the automaker is quietly at work developing some pure battery-electric models that could hit the road in the next few years, officials have confirmed to

Senior GM officials are still skeptical about the potential for vehicles relying on batteries along, but they also see the need for what product development czar Tom Stephens describes as a “robust product portfolio” that can address the broadest possible mix of energy alternatives and consumer needs.

The key takeaway, GM officials stress, is that electric power, in one form or another, is rapidly becoming an essentially element in the company’s model mix.

“We have to come up with a robust product portfolio that can take advantage of all (the various) energy alternatives and do it efficiently,” said Stephens.

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Until recently, GM officials prefered to direct the media spotlight towards an array of products pairing battery power and the internal combustion engine, such as mild hybrids like the one first introduced on the Saturn Vue, advanced two-mode hybrid-electric systems, such as the one used in the Cadillac Escalade, and extended-range electric vehicles, or E-REVs, such as the Chevrolet Volt.