I couldn’t let this bit of feedback slip past your radar. With gas prices being what they are here in the States, we’re all having to take a more serious look at our personal transportation options. Are hybrids or diesels in your future? Before you leap, you’d better look. Let Lockergnomie Pete Pontius be your guide. Print or save his bits of wisdom on your impending choices. Let me put it to you this way: if you don’t think this bit of technology doesn’t pertain to you, you’re not living on this planet.

I think I can give you a fair view of both diesels and hybrids, as I have owned both. One of my previous cars was a ’96 VW Passat TDI. I bought it used (of course) with about 125,000 miles in Philadelphia, PA (I live in Central IL). I flew out to Philly in February of 2004 and drove it back by myself. On the way back, I generally drove at a cruising speed of 75mph – 80mph and achieved 42 – 44mpg. I drove the car for most of the year, and then sold it out of stupidity.

In December of 2004, after trying to find a newer (used) VW diesel, I purchased a 2001 Honda Insight hybrid, which was the first commercially available hybrid for the U.S. market. In my usage, which is mostly highway miles due to my work (sales), I generally got between 50 – 55mpg depending on several factors – temperature, wind conditions (light small car), and how in a hurry I was that day. I have been trying to sell the Insight as it is not very comfortable for as much driving as I do. It’s already been replaced by another VW – this time, one of the new GTIs. Had the new Golf (now Rabbits again) been out in a diesel, I would have bought one of those.

I also used to sell VWs in my previous career. I worked for a VW dealer here in central Illinois for 5.5 years. I sold a lot of VW diesels in that time. The VWs are solid cars. They are fun to drive, and can be an addiction having owned, at last count, seven, not including all of the Audis (sister company).

The one thing people need to look at before purchasing either a VW diesel or any type of hybrid – how long will it take you to recoup the initial higher expense of the diesel or hybrid technology? They need to look at how many miles a year they drive. If they’re driving less than 15,000 miles a year they are not candidates for these types of vehicles if they are simply looking at them to save $$, because they won’t in the long run. Yes, diesel currently costs less, but the initial cost of the vehicle when new is generally $1,400 – $2,000 higher. When looking at new hybrids and comparable ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) models, you normally pay the same premium when purchasing a new car of the hybrid type.

FYI, David Kuespert, who commented that you can purchase a year-old TDI on Craigslist for $8,000, is way off base. The ones listed for $8k are totally fraudulent ads designed to catch people like him looking for a deal. Generally speaking, the VW TDIs hold a very good resale in the VW community if proper maintenance records are kept. When reselling any European car, a complete maintenance record of the vehicle can sometimes add thousands to the price that they will get on the used market.

I wouldn’t count on gas prices to go anywhere but up in the next few years. I’m of the opinion that our driving habits won’t change until we hit $5 a gallon here in the United States. I hear people freaking out over $3 a gallon, but their personal budgets are still allowing for such an inflation. Maybe a hybrid will be my next car?

[tags]car,hybrid,volkswagen,electric car,vw,tdi,gasoline,internal combustion engine,diesel,passat tdi,autombobile,gas prices,driving habits[/tags]