Friday, February 25, 2011

Hybrid Cars are Charging their Batteries for Another Big Jump

Hybrid Cars are Charging their Batteries for Another Big Jump

As many of us have seen in recent weeks, the price of gasoline has continued to rise. Reminders of the 2007 crisis are popping up across the United States. Wednesday February 23, 2011 marked the first time the price of oil hit $100 dollars a barrel since 2008. This upsurge in price is largely due to civil unrest in the home country of the United States’ main oil contract with Nymex, based in Libya.
The rise in Nymex futures disrupts a gasoline market that had somewhat stabilized since the dramatic days of $5 a gallon. A positive result of past high gas prices was that many people made the switch to alternative energy vehicles. However, since the prices have decreased and stabilized, it seems that most are feeling comfortable staying with their current gas-guzzler. The return of higher gas prices may yield a shift back to energy conscious vehicles.

Since their introduction into the market, hybrid vehicle sales have showed a strong correlation to the price of gas. In early 2007 when gas prices reached over $3 a barrel, hybrid sales saw a dramatic increase as well. This increase continued until gas prices began drop in 2008. Finally, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2009 the average price per gallon was $2.35 in 2009.

As gas prices fell so did the sale of Hybrid cars. According to Ward’s Automotive Yearbook, 2009 Hybrid sales were down close to 20% since their 2007 peak. These sales numbers, while still good, reflect a direct correlation to the prices of gasoline. That being said, it is also important to point out that the struggling economy, along with other factors influenced the sales of hybrids.

However, these are different economic times. The economy is recovering and gas prices are projected to continue to rise. The Energy Information Association (EIA) is projecting the price of WTI crude oil to average about $93 per barrel in 2011, which is $14 higher than last year. To put that into perspective, EIA’s 2011 per gallon projection averages around $3.15, 37 cents higher than 2010.

With the average in 2012 continuing its climb up to $3.20 cent per gallon and the economy on the upswing, it seems that Hybrids are poised for another surge.
Despite their efficiency, Hybrids are not the only alternative energy source vehicles on the market. Cars like the Chevy Volt, are utilizing technology to produce an incredibly cleaner automobile. In the coming years new models of electric cars will be introduced into the market and may even out-sell the hybrids.

We all know the environmental importance of these vehicles. Hybrid cars can reduce harmful emissions by 90% of a normal vehicle. Electric vehicles reduce harmful emissions by 100%. Not only will this help the environment, but also it will help reduce our nations dependence on foreign oil. As gas prices rise, whether you are trying to save the planet or save some money, alternative energy vehicles are here to stay.



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