While some eco-friendly behaviors and lifestyle changes have been easy to adopt, others have proven far more difficult. Perhaps nothing illustrates that more than consumer reaction to hybrid cars.

Hybrid car sales have dipped in recent years. But supporters note that vehicle sales in general have also decreased over that period, meaning it’s quite possible hybrid car sales are indicative of a larger slump, and not necessarily indicative of an adverse consumer reaction to hybrid cars.

Whatever the reason for dwindling sales, it’s clear consumers have been reticent to embrace hybrid cars, especially when compared to other eco-friendly lifestyle changes that have caught on seemingly en masse. For those considering a hybrid car, there’s a valid case to be made on both sides of the fence.

Why buy a hybrid car?

Buying a car is never an easy decision. Choosing to buy one that’s fundamentally different that one you’ve ever purchased before is even more difficult. Perhaps there’s no greater reason to buy a hybrid car than the environmental benefits. A hybrid’s low emissions mean less greenhouse gases, which can include harmful carbon dioxide. Less emissions make for a healthier planet. For consumers whose chief concern is the environment, then hybrid cars are the way to go.

There’s also more practical reasons to buy a hybrid car. Better gas mileage means drivers will be paying less at the pump, which can add up to significant savings over time, not to mention less fuel consumption that will help the environment as well.

Hybrid cars also tend to be more efficient. Hybrids have both an internal combustible engine and an electrical system, enabling drivers to switch back and forth between the power sources to make their vehicle more efficient, burning less fuel when the conditions allow and using less electrical energy when the conditions would otherwise drain the electrical power system.

Why steer clear of hybrid cars?

Hybrid cars’ biggest problems are largely economical. Resale value of hybrid cars pales in comparison to that of traditional automobiles. Much of this lower resale value is thanks to the battery needed for hybrid cars. Hybrid car batteries typically need to be replaced once per decade. When selling a preowned vehicle, drivers might find that vehicle is less attractive to prospective buyers if that battery has not previously been replaced or if it’s been several years since it was replaced.

Lower resale value is especially tough to stomach when considering the initial cost of hybrid cars, which many feel makes them less attractive options. Hybrids are often considerably more expensive, and researchers have noted that the cost savings of hybrids are not realized until after several years of driving a hybrid vehicle. While this figures to change as the market continues to offer more hybrid cars, for today’s consumer that future offers little comfort.

Safety is also a concern when considering a hybrid car. Hybrids use high-voltage batteries to operate, which can prove disastrous should an accident occur. Manufacturers insist this concern isn’t really a problem, as the batteries are designed to turn off in an accident. However, some consumers subscribe to the “better safe than sorry” approach and feel hybrid batteries are simply too risky.

Much like any big ticket decision, consumers must make, deciding whether or not to buy a hybrid car requires careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages to hybrid cars before driving one off the dealership lot.

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