Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tall husbands, cars, and the environment

Josh is tall. No, seriously, he's around 6 feet tall. Also, he is going to be the stay at home parent for now. And, he drives a big pick up truck. I am short; somewhere between 5'1 and 5'2, depending on who is measuring and the measuring instrument. I also cannot see over the dash board in his truck, nor can I reach the pedals. Plus, his truck doesn't have a back seat. In other words, he can't drive Mallory around in his truck, nor can I drive his truck. So, that means we either become a one vehicle family, or we purchase a vehicle to replace the truck.

We're exploring the vehicle purchase route. And these days, most vehicles are more fuel efficient then his truck. But, we decided to be environmentally consious and at least explore the possiblilty of a hybird. We decided to do some rough cost comparisons based on information available on-line. We compared within model standard and hy-tech and across models. The new fangled vehicles are more expensive then the old fashioned ones, so the question is: does the extra gas savings make the extra price worth while?

Josh and I looked at two scenarios. First, assuming 10 years ownership at 12,000 miles a year. Then second, 200,000 miles life. We also assumed $4/gas (present value high at the nearest gas station). Remember, we're using present value. In other words, is the extra price now less then buying the extra gallons of gas right now? What we discovered is, in most cases, it is cheaper to buy the plain old engine and the extra gas then it is to buy the more efficient new technology. There was one exception, but the standard was so ridiculous that there was no way we would ever meet it. If vehicle brand X got the very best highway mileage, we only ever drove on the highway, never on city streets, AND we kept the vehicle for 200,000 than it would be cost effective to buy the new hy-tech vehicle.

When looking out ten years and 200,000 miles, it's really hard to say what kind of usage we'll put on the vehicle. Who knows, it may not last 10 years or 200,000, which really makes the new technology expensive. At any rate, we also found out that the company that makes the spiffy new batteries can't keep up with demand, so there is a LONG wait (and it is hard to come by used hy-tech vehicles). So, we are going to be environment haters. What can I say, one of the fundamental rules of economics is that people look out for their own self interest. Perhaps when my car dies a slow and painful death (hopefully in several years or another 100,000 miles) the technology will be cheaper, better, and more readily available.

(By the way, for those super interested... my L-series Saturn still gets 30 mpg in the summer and 25 in the winter, combo city/highway, even though it is seven years old... the hybird Saturn Aura gets 24 to 32 mpg... so much for the technology being really slick and efficient.)


  • At 8:39 AM , Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

    I honestly think hybrid cars are only about making people feel better. It seems like it is never taken into consideration that electricity is made by burning coal, usually. I'd like to get more fuel-efficient cars sometime, when the money is there.

  • At 10:31 AM , Blogger Liz said...

    and you've hit on the important point... the money being there. If our circumstances (or my height) didn't dictate the need for another family vehicle, we'd probably not get one until the truck died a slow and horrible death. You're exercising good economic judgment by living within your means and waiting for a more efficient vehicle to be less expensive! Good job, fellow economist!

  • At 2:05 AM , Blogger kara said...

    Isn't there some sort of rebate for purchasing a hybrid?

  • At 1:59 PM , Blogger Liz said...

    yeah... but, there is also a nine month wait and you don' buy at todays price, you buy at the available price at delivery... which enters in an increased gas usage on the saturn while we are one car... and my old saturn still gets better milage for vehicles Josh can fit into with a car seat.


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