Cities that are gradually adding hybrids to their fleets are finding that the upfront costs could possibly outweigh the long-term benefits associated with purchasing the “green” vehicles, according to the Associated Press.
The higher sticker prices, which range from $2,000 to $8,000 more per vehicle, mean that fleets would have to hold on to hybrid vehicles for a longer amount of time until they are able to make-up the initial price difference.
City officials are also saying that the increased upfront costs are too much for them to handle at a time when many local budgets are already stretched to the tilt.
Those who oversee city fleets believe that the time it would take to recoup the upfront costs would take longer than the life of the car. Whether or not the technology will hold up, as well as future price changes for the vehicles, are also major concerns.
Officials in Ann Arbor, Mich., decided not to add hybrids to their fleet after determining the costs would outweigh the benefits. David Konkle, the city's energy coordinator, found that hybrids would cost the city about $8,000 more than other cars it would use while saving $300 to $500 a year in gas.
In New York, the city requires the purchase of the cleanest vehicle available. Mark Simon, director of alternative fuel programs, estimates that the city is spending $3,000 to $6,000 more per hybrid vehicle, and saving $400 to $500 a year in fuel.
Automakers and “green” vehicle supporters, however, contend that hybrid technology is low-risk and point to several efforts to decrease the costs of purchasing hybrids, such as government incentives and tax credits. They also stress the fact that increasing hybrid manufacturing will eventually help lower the initial costs.