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Hybrid cars save environment and paycheck

Although hybrid vehicles are more money, they have perks including better mileage and better parking places at Dominican. Credit: Samantha Sanchez DOMINICAN STAR

By: Neil Helfgot, Contributing Reporter

If the cost of gas at $4.00 a gallon is getting you down, don’t despair; eco friendly cars are a solution to consider.  Given the cost savings attributable to reduced gas quantities required by hybrids, students and others who have been buying hybrid vehicles will continue to do so and in greater numbers.

Carla Duca, a freshman, said her vehicle is not = fuel-efficient. “I drive a 2000 Lincoln LS V8. I pay about $45 a week in gas and I just filled up yesterday,” Duca said.

“If I could save money from paying for gas in order to be able have more money for tuition then that would be a good thing.”

However, the issue of generally higher pricing for buying a hybrid car contributes to there being fewer of them. Charles Schiller, a salesman at Bredemann Toyota in Park Ridge, Ill., agreed.

“You do pay more money initially to buy a hybrid than some comparable cars, but you can make that money back when you consider the fuel savings in the long run,” Schiller said.

“It does get great gas mileage. We’ve achieved 38 miles per gallon city and 44 miles per gallon highway, Joe Sodini, owner of a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid, said.

To encourage hybrid purchasing, Toyota offers special pricing deals for hybrids that run month to month.

“Currently they have a $500 cash back or 2.9 percent rebate on the Toyota Prius vehicle, but only if you take delivery of your car by April 4 which is when that particular incentive will end,” Schiller said.

Schiller cautioned however that the incentives are “quickly fading away” because of the recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan.

According to, “Generally, hybrid cars produce 80 percent less harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases than comparable gasoline cars. This translates to less airborne pollutants, and a cleaner earth.”

“It’s a good feeling to drive a vehicle that is better for the environment,” Sodini said. “While my Civic Hybrid relies more heavily on the gas engine, the Prius relies more on the electric batteries and is a more tech savvy car.”

According to Joel Nayder, the assistant director of security, there are currently 1,400 commuter parking permits sold, 550 faculty permits sold, 200 resident permits sold and 50 Priory permits sold.

Of the 2,200 vehicles parking at both Priory campus and Main campus, “there are at least 50 hybrids registered with the security office, including 23 Toyota Priuses and about 15 Saturn Vues,” Nayder said.

Given that Dominican’s computer system only tracks vehicle registration by the car model, and that there are variations of Honda Civic, Ford Escape and Toyota Camry that are not hybrid, Nayder could not calculate how many total hybrids were registered. A very conservative estimate of hybrids, in relation to all Dominican registered vehicles, is 2.3 percent.

To encourage the use of hybrids, Dominican has located parking spots for hybrid cars in the more desirable campus locations.

“There are currently four devoted hybrid spots on main campus in the commuter parking lot just outside of Lewis Hall on the first floor of the structure,” Nayder said. “Originally we started off with just two hybrid parking spots and a year later that number doubled.”

Anticipating that the number of hybrids on Dominican’s campus will proportionately increase in the future, Nayder said, “I think that as technology progresses there will always be room for more hybrid spots.”

To encourage further hybrid car purchasing, the government has offered tax credits.

“If you bought your vehicle in 2010 you could potentially still be eligible for a state of Illinois tax credit depending on your purchase,” Schiller said. “To be eligible for the credit, you need to have purchased a fuel cell, hybrid or electric vehicle.  The tax credits range from $487.50-$7,500.00 depending on your make and model.”

However, Schiller said that the Illinois program was running out of money.

“Every new administration is pulling for more fuel efficient and hybrid cars, but the question is whether or not Congress or the state legislatures will pass the laws in relation to them,” he said.

With continued dealer incentives plus a push for fuel-efficient or hybrid cars by consumers and the government, there is reason to believe that hybrids will become more commonplace on the roads.

“It feels good to use a technology that is beneficial to the environment,” Sodini said. He and other hybrid owners are likely to be repeat purchasers. And given the current and anticipated high fuel pricing levels, owners of traditional vehicles, like Duca, are also considering hybrids.

“I would like to go green and pay less money for gas by buying a hybrid in the future,” Duca said.


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