There were some significant questions when hybrid, gas/electric, technology hit the market. First there were concerns about how well these vehicles would work. Anytime a technology is new there are questions about how reliable they are going to be. Another question is related to the economics of the vehicles, will the investment in hybrid technology be offset by savings on fuel?
In 2006 my company began making the investment in hybrid technology, we began with the Ford Escape hybrid. We currently have 15 of these units in our fleet. Ford Escapes with hybrid technology costs the consumer an additional $9,000; or about 2300 gallons of gasoline. The hybrid technology offered about a 48% increase in fuel economy and at $4 a gallon, that is about $560 a year in savings for an average driver; it would take an average driver about 15 years recover the additional costs. From our experience these vehicles have been trouble free and reliable. We have had no major problems with any of our hybrid drive units and the maintenance has been comparable to the standard gas models. Also the performance of these vehicles is comparable to the gas models. The units I have driven have all had plenty of power, in terms of a 4 cylinder engine, and have been comfortable to drive.
Consumers should not purchase hybrid vehicles if their goal is to save money, even today the payback on fuel savings compared to the additional money that is required to purchase the technology would only be recovered if a driver put on excessive miles or kept the vehicle longer than average. But the technology is good for the environment and helps reduce dependence on oil. A consumer should look at a hybrid if they are conscientious about reducing dependence on fossil fuel and take heart in the fact that the technology has been proven to be reliable and unlikely to add hidden costs to their purchase through an average life cycle.