Hybrid Cars will be car of the future as more purchases expected

By By KRISTEN COPELAND; Photojournalist TOM GEISE

Hybrid cars and SUV's are becoming more popular with each passing year and as the gas prices continue to climb. But is it worth the extra money here in Central New York?

AAA and local car dealerships say do your research.

"We're going to be be driving vehicles that can meet our needs, not limit our transportation," said Ed Welsh of AAA. "We're a very mobile society, we don't want to drive less. We're going to drive more."

Welsh thinks an economy car is just as good on gas as a hybrid. But we're also talking about saving the environment.

"Save globally, I think it's 3.9 billion tons of emissions would be saved per year," said Joe Steet of Steet Toyota.

Toyota first brought a hybrid model to the market in 2001. Locally, Steet Toyota sold one or two a month. Seven years later, the owner says that number has climbed to ten, and it's only going up from there. So how does hybrid work?

"You have two power sources," Steet said. "The gas engine and the electric power source. The vehicle will switch seamlessly. You won't notice it goes when it switches to the gas engine, and then it will switch again to the electric mode."

Steet says that technology will save you $1,000 a year on gas. If you're driving in the city where it's very stop and go.

And get this - in about a year, AAA says we're going to see small diesel cars for sale.

"A gallon of gasoline has 100,000 BTU's - British Thermal Units," Welsh said. "A gallon of diesel fuel has 130,000. Same model. You're going to get more BTU's in other words more power out of that gallon of diesel fuel than you do a gallon of gasoline."

Diesel is 30% more efficient.

I know what you're thinking - Diesel equals dirty black smoke. But, that's not the case anymore.

"The new diesel the new fuel, the low sulfur diesel being sold which is environmentally cleaner is as clean as gasoline now," Welsh said.

With gas prices as high as they are, why not try something new?

"We're so smart and so innovative in this country that we're going to work our way out of this problem," he said.

Still the best way to save money, save gas and save the environment is to not drive at all. You might want to look into taking the bus or at least car pooling.

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