Going Green: Actions (and Cash) Speak Louder Than Words

When it comes to going green, do you follow through on good intentions?

People talk a lot about living a greener lifestyle, but when the time comes to actually go green, most people seem to be commitment-phobic. The problem is that most normal folks are not yet willing to pay a bit more to lower their carbon footprints.

Recent car-buying behavior is telling. A USA Today/Gallup Poll surveyed car buyers and found that 35% said they would “strongly consider” buying a hybrid car. But how many actually bought one? Only 4.3%. What is the reason? Almost certainly it is the other kind of green: money.

A Ford Escape hybrid that gets 32 miles per gallon is priced at $30,825, but the non-hybrid version netting only an average of 23 miles per gallon is available for as little as $23,225 (that ‘s stripped, not equipped). Saving $1000 per year on gas still requires about 7 years to earn back the cost premium for the hybrid. Most consumers won’t fork over that much extra for a hybrid, preferring to pay more for gas but quite a bit less for the car.

This is just a guess on my part, but I think gasoline prices would need to be about $6 per gallon or more to push a significant number of car buyers toward the hybrid. What do you think?

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April 2011
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