Friday, September 5, 2008

Should You Buy a Hybrid?

When I attended a media event at Ford last month, I learned about Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (PZEV). According to Ford a 2008 PZEV produces 73% less smog-forming emissions than the average new car.

To qualify as a PZEV a car must meet three criteria:
*The vehicle must meet extremely low tailpipe emissions standards (AKA Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle).
*It must meet a zero-evaporative-emissions standard.
*It must be warranted to meet these emissions standards for 15 years or 150,000 miles.

Although Ford as a parent company is the current leader in PZEVs, more and more manufacturers are producing them each year.

Why am I talking about PZEVs when this article was supposed to be about Hybrids? Because if you are not going to drive under 30mph for more than 75% of your driving needs than a Hybrid really is not serving it's purpose for you. And if you will not be served by a Hybrid then how can you still do your part for the environment by not contributing to the acrid air problems? By buying a PZEV! Note not all Hybrids are PZEV, please make sure you ask before you buy!

Some more interesting facts about PZEV (as taken from a Ford pamphlet):
*A vehicle with a PZEV rating emits about two pounds of hydrocarbons during 100,000 miles of driving – the equivalent of spilling a pint of gasoline.
*A PZEV-rated vehicle would have to be driven more than 2,100 miles to equal the emissions produced by a 5.4 horsepower lawn mower in one hour of use!
*BBQing one hamburger produces the same smog-forming emissions as driving a PZEV car for 3 hours or 180 miles!

When I heard these facts I was amazed that it was for the first time. Why is this information not out in the open? Why is there so much hype about Hybrids (which effectly only properly serve less than half of the people that own them) and nothing about PZEV? I am here to try to rectify that.

Back to Hybrids. Hybrids are a great idea, again if you travel at under 30mph for more than 75% of your driving time. Another bonehead move made by the California government was to give Prius owners a sticker that allowed them to drive in the HOV lanes. Which totally defeats the purpose of a Hybrid. Those drivers would get better mileage driving in the stop and go traffic of LA than they do zooming past everyone at 70 mph.

I have 3 sisters all talking about buying Hybrids. For one I would definitely not recommend it. While her daily commute to and from work is (I believe) approx 10 miles, she then drives almost 200 miles to her home every weekend. For that weekend ride, the Hybrid would suck up in gas what she saved during the week. And with the cost of a Hybrid at about $3000 more than it's counterpart it would take more than the estimated time to get her payback.

According to Consumer Reports October 2008 issue, some Hybrid cars are still eligible for Federal Tax Credits. “The incentives fade out once an automaker produces 60,000 Hybrids, 9including ALL of it's brands”. Toyota (including Lexus) is done. Honda incentives will expire Dec. 31, 2008. With Ford now producing the Escape, and Fusion hybrids along with the Mercury brands of Mariner and Milan, it too will be done soon. These tax credits can range from $500 to $2,500. You can get more information on them from

Make note of your driving habits before you make a commitment to your next car. In the economy we are in right now, does it make sense for you to spend more to not necessarily reap the benefits of that purchase? If a Hybrid fits into your lifestyle than rock on with your bad self!

If not, then would you please make sure your next car is a PZEV?

*This article is cross-posted at BlogHer and Blissfully Domestic


  1. Wow, I have never heard of a PZEV. Thanks for the info; I will take this into account if I am ever in the market to buy a new car.

  2. Very thoughtful post. More food for thought on the driving green a fuel efficient used car.