Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hybrids Back on the Table

Jaime Baker

Rising gas prices and old cars have the Athens Police Department looking for a new vehicle that not only works for the department but is also safe for the environment. Originally, Athens Police selected the Ford Escape, which gets 31-36 miles per gallon. But last night at City Council, police offered the Chevy Malibu Hybrid as their choice in the long debate over an environmentally safe car for the department. The Malibu Hybrid also gets 31-36 miles per gallon, but Council member Eliahu Gosney was not happy with the car. He says that the Hybrid Malibu is much more expensive than a regular Malibu, but only gets 2 miles per gallon better. “We will not be benefitting from this purchase if the Malibu goes through, environmentally or financially,” he told council members.

The Malibu Hybrid is introduced as APD's new car, and Eliahu Gosney is not happy

While Gosney was very informed about the car, a few council members had not even heard that police had chosen a finalist. First Ward Representative Deborah Phillips told the Council that the decision was "new information to me." Many other council members voiced the same concerns, and wanted to table the ordinance so they could discuss it further. Both Phillips and member Sherry Coon voted to withdraw the ordinance and table it.

Council Members discuss tabling the new car ordinance

For many council members, the $33,000 the police department plans to spend on a Malibu Hybrid is too much, especially when it only gets slightly better mileage than a less environmentally safe vehicle. But, as President Bill Bias pointed out, "I can't remember a time where we tied the administration's hands on what was to be purchased." While the ordinance was tabled, the Athens Police Department has until May 27th to make a final decision on a car.

The Council discusses tabling and makes a final decision

Hybrids vs. Regular Vehicles

With gas prices on the rise across the country, many people are interested in hybrid vehicles. But there are a few things to consider. With gas price averages creeping near $4, all drivers want to get the most out of their dollars. Hybrids save an average of $1300 per year on gas for drivers. It is also believed that Hybrid cars cost less money to to maintain per year because engine use and brake use is less in a Hybrid than in gas powered cars.

One downfall for hybrids is their price. Hybrids cost between $3000 and $8000 more than their gas powered counterparts. But according to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the federal government can now offer tax breaks to hybrid owners. These are usually in the region of $2000-$3000.

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