2012 Car Review
2012 Car Review
auto
Are alternative-fuel cars right for you?

2012 Car Review » Go lean and green with alt-fuel cars

With 52 diesel, electric and hybrid cars currently on the market and more in the pipeline, going green with an alternative-fuel car couldn't be easier.

Thanks to increased consumer demand, combined with more stringent federal fuel economy standards, the choices for a fuel-efficient diesel, electric or hybrid car now suit nearly every taste -- from family-friendly to top-notch luxury, from sporty to environmentally sensitive -- and in virtually every body style imaginable.

What's more, as a greater number of alternative-fuel cars have come to market, the prices have decreased. Though you still pay a premium for these cars over their fuel-efficient, gasoline counterparts, the price difference is on the decline. Car buyers have a large selection of prices under $30,000 -- and several under $23,000. Federal tax credits also still apply to electric cars, making the car prices even more affordable. For those looking to save even more, diesels and hybrids have been on the market long enough that used models are available.

While interest in buying an alternative-fuel car abounds, so do the myths about the safety, reliability and maintenance costs of these fuel-efficient cars. Even so, car shoppers' worries are largely unfounded. In general, alternative-fuel cars, whether they're diesel, electric or hybrid, are no more expensive to maintain than their traditional gasoline counterparts.

View Slideshow

The same goes for reliability. The components specific to these cars are designed to last for the long haul. The battery packs in hybrid cars and electric cars have warranties for 100,000 miles and are expected to last much longer.

As far as safety, diesel, electric and hybrid cars must meet the same safety standards as their gasoline counterparts. The electric components in hybrids and electric cars are designed to shut down in a crash, and emergency responders throughout the U.S. have special training that allows them to respond to any injured parties safely.

Perhaps the biggest issue with buying an alternative-fuel car is determining whether the amount saved in gas is worth the price premium over the long haul. For diesel cars and hybrids, making the math calculations is relatively easy. Follow this process and only compare the savings between the alternative-fuel car you are considering and its gasoline counterpart. Once you've determined your fuel savings, factor in the difference in car prices between the two vehicles to get the full picture.

Determining how long it will take to recoup your additional investment on an electric car is more challenging. Because no gas is used on the electric car, the cost of the electricity must be calculated, instead. That can vary widely, depending on where and when the recharging happens.

Whether you are considering buying an alternative-fuel car to save on gas, to be greener or to be an early adopter of new technology, it's pretty easy to put one on your short list as you shop for a car.

« Back to 2012 Car Review.

 

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
advertisement
 

A little research could save you BIG on interest.

Don't have time? Our rate-tracker tool saves you time and money. Delivered Thursdays.
 
advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Blog

Tara Baukus Mello

Most kids out of boosters too soon

A new study found that 90 percent of parents are letting their children ride in a seatbelt without a booster seat before it is safe for them to do so.  ... Read more


Connect with us