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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Hybrids -- not an option for everyone

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Looking back at the past, many people were probably expecting to be flying around in jet packs, driving sleek, faster-than-a-cannonball roadsters or traveling through dimensions in space and time to get where they need to go within the blink of an eye when the 21st century rolled around. Very few people with futuristic imaginations imagined that the world would be hard-pressed for oil and there being no chance of us earthlings establishing a colony on the moon anytime soon.

Though expanding our territories to the far reaches of space is out of the question for the moment, we little earthlings are trying to do the best we can at saving energy and the environment. But, is such an attempt possible in the rough, hilly, rock infested farming area of the Ozarks and in other rural areas?

About 18 months ago, Chevy, one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the United States, unveiled its concept car the Chevy Volt. According to the official Chevrolet Web site, with the Volt's E-Flex Propulsion System, it is supposed to get up to 40 miles just on its rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. When traveling more than 40 miles an engine powered by both gas and battery power kicks in to add 600 more miles of traveling distance. It sounds too good to be true. That's right, there are drawbacks. Not only is the car expensive (about $30-40,000), but Chevy isn't expecting it to be on the market until 2010 because Chevy is still working on a reliable battery pack.

Although the car can go from zero to 60 in about eight seconds, it has 160 horsepower and 236 pounds per feet of torque and doesn't have four-wheel-drive capacity. That's not nearly enough for anyone doing heavy-duty work like many people in the Ozarks.

Alan Pender, sales manager of River Country Chevrolet in Thayer, Mo., said people are looking for more economical cars. Ronnie Todd, sales manager of Watson-Dillard GMC Trucks in Ash Flat, said he's noticed the same trend. "Most people today are for small cars that get better gas mileage," said Todd.

Todd's dealership mostly sells trucks. He said he's noticed a drop in sales in the last couple of months. "I can tell the difference in my checks from the last few months," Todd said.

Farmers and those who live and work in rural areas "have to have a certain vehicle to get the work done" Pender said.

Hybrids don't offer what it takes to be a good farm or working vehicle. Todd said for the price of a hybrid car, it will take some time to gain money back for the amount of gas used. Todd said, "We've not ordered our first hybrid, yet."

Most farmers can't even use vehicles that use regular unleaded gas. Pender said, "Most farmers are using diesel pick-up trucks." Diesel, of course is more expensive than regular gas.

As for those who need a four-wheel drive vehicle occasionally, they shouldn't hold their breath. Many economically-friendly hybrid cars don't have four-wheel-drive. But Pender said there is a possibility for it to come. "With technology today, it seems like we learn more everyday," Pender said.

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