Hybrids Prove Their Value at Pump

By dancurranjr On May 29th, 2009

2010mercury-milanCall it competitive fuel efficiency.

For Chantal Dupasquier and her boyfriend, driving their new Honda Civic has become a sport of a sort. The Winnipeg couple bought the hybrid last November and, since then, they’ve been competing to see who can squeeze the most kilometres out of a litre of gasoline.

“We’ll tease each other if we get the mileage up and then we’ll encourage each other when the mileage goes down,” says Dupasquier.

“I’ll come home and I’ll be like, ‘I got the mileage down by .2!'”

While others are downsizing or turning to alternative fuels to lessen their impact on the environment, Dupasquier, 27, says they chose a hybrid for several reasons: They were looking to downsize from two vehicles, and the Civic had the safety features they wanted.

Plus the price point — less than $30,000 after the Manitoba government’s rebate — was right.

“It’s actually been a really great conversation starter, and it’s definitely great at the pump. We’re extending our gas trips by weeks,” says Dupasquier.

Hybrid vehicles use a gasoline-electric powertrain, incorporating batteries charged directly by the gas engine or by regenerative braking. By automatically shutting off the gas engine in certain driving conditions, hybrids reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change and achieve unmatched fuel-consumption rates, says Bryon Stremler, manager of Toyota Canada Inc.’s government and regulatory affairs department.

The percentage of registered female hybrid buyers is still low compared to men. According to Toyota statistics, 65 per cent of Prius buyers are male, while 81 per cent of registered Camry Hybrid owners are men.

Dupasquier says she already sees the savings. The hybrid cost $400 more than a conventional Civic after the Manitoba government’s $2,000 rebate but in six months of driving, the couple has saved almost that amount in gas.

Toyota’s Stremler says a hybrid Camry costs about $6,000 more than its conventional four-cylinder, gas-powered counterpart but, depending on what province you live in, a combination of government rebates can help shave off most of that amount.

B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba offer up to $2,000 back for the purchase of a hybrid, while P.E.I. offers the highest rebate at $3,000. Combined with the federal government’s incentive, a maximum $2,000 rebate, that’s up to $5,000 off for drivers buying or leasing a fuel-efficient vehicle.

More importantly, says Stremler, over the car’s lifetime, the hybrid will use 30 per cent less fuel — 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres driven versus 8.3 L/100 km for the Camry four-cylinder.

Hybrids aren’t the only option for those hoping to cut back on how much they pay at the pump. Smaller vehicles can also achieve respectable fuel efficiencies. The 1.5 -litre, four-cylinder Toyota Yaris is eligible for a rebate under the federal program and was rated the most fuel-efficient sub-compact under the 2007 EnerGuide award program.

SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

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