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Image 4 of The Advocate Messenger April 16, 2012

Part of The Advocate Messenger

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A4 MONDAY, APRIL 16, 2012 ENVIRONMENT THE ADVOCATE-MESSENGER WWW.AMNEWS.COM Hybrid, electric cars see record sales By DEE-ANN DURBIN AP Auto Writer DETROIT — Americans are buying record numbers of hybrid and electric cars as gas prices climb and new models arrive in showrooms, giving the vehicles their greatest share yet of the U.S. auto market. Consumers bought a record 52,000 gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars in March, up from 34,000 during the same month last year. The two categories combined made up 3.64 percent of total U.S. sales, their highest monthly market share ever, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank. The previous high was 3.56 percent in July 2009, when the Cash for Clunkers program encouraged people to trade in old gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars. And while their share of the market remains small, it’s a big leap from the start of the year, when hybrids and electrics made up 2.38 percent of new car sales. Buyers were drawn by new models like the Toyota Prius C subcompact, the Prius V wagon and Camry hybrid. Gas prices near or above $4 per gallon added to the cars’ attraction. David Martin, a Denver software engineer, estimates he’ll save at least $150 per month on gas with his new Chevrolet Volt compared with the 2010 Acura TSX he replaced. Martin expects gas prices to stay high, a factor that heavily influenced his purchase. “As the cost of gasoline rises, my future savings can only increase,” he said. Stronger sales of the Volt and the Nissan Leaf were a positive sign for electric car makers. The two vehicles have struggled to gain acceptance from buyers worried about how far they can drive on a battery charge. Another concern: Volt maker General Motors Co. had to change the car’s charging system because its batteries caught fire after government crash tests. GM sold just 7,671 Volts last year, below its goal of 10,000. But in March, it set AP Photo/David Zalubowski Car buyers bought a record number of hybrid and electric cars in March 2012, as new models went on sale and gas prices neared $4 per gallon. a new monthly record of 2,289 for the Volt, an electric car with a small backup gas engine. Sales of the all-electric Leaf nearly doubled to 579. The Volt got a boost from California’s decision to make it eligible for high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Starting March 1, buyers with a low-emissions Volt could use the HOV lane and get a $1,500 state tax credit on top of a $7,500 federal tax credit. GM said a quarter of the Volts it sold last month were sold in California. Edward Ang, of Cupertino, Calif., has been planning to buy a Volt since GM first announced it would make the car, but he waited until it qualified for the HOV sticker. He bought a Volt last month and now makes his 10mile commute without using any gas. He used to drive a 2004 Prius. “I made a promise to myself that if they bring it to market, I will get one,” said Ang, an engineering manager. Gas prices helped sales. The nationwide average for a gallon of gas jumped 19 cents in March, from $3.73 to $3.92, and it crossed the $4 mark in California even earlier. The $4 mark was a significant psychological milestone for some buyers, said Paul Lacy, who forecasts sales trends for consulting firm IHS Automotive. Lacy expects hybrids and electrics to make up about 4 percent of U.S. sales this year, although sales could drop if gas prices fall or if buyers get more accustomed to higher prices. Hybrid and electric sales also rose with high pump prices last spring, but fell after prices moderated and the Japanese earthquake disrupted Prius supplies. Lacy predicts hybrids and electrics will double their market share to 8.5 percent by 2017, in part because there will be more options on the market. Last month, 35 hybrids and electrics were on sale, double the number from 2008. The proliferation of models will also bring down costs. Hybrids cost around $2,000 to $4,000 more than their gas counterparts, which can make them less attractive to buyers. Automotive information site Edmunds.com estimates it takes 11 years’ worth of gas savings to recoup the $4,595 premium on the Honda Civic hybrid, or 5.2 years to make back the $3,400 premium on the Toyota Camry hybrid. But those gaps are narrowing, said Jessica Caldwell, senior director of pricing and industry analysis for the automotive information site Edmunds.com. The price difference between the Camry and Camry hybrid has fallen by $800 since the hybrid was first introduced. Ang says the price premium is less important than feeling that he’s doing something about climate change and dependence on overseas oil. “We all make decisions not based on cost. We buy big houses, big SUVs, iPhones, iPads, not because they save us money. It’s because they make us feel good,” he said. Toyota Motor Co.’s Prius hybrid cars were the runaway best-sellers last month. They made up 57 percent of all hybrids and electrics sold. The Prius C, an entry-level hybrid that is 19 inches shorter and $5,000 cheaper than the regular Prius, sold nearly 4,900 in March, its first month on the market. “The success of the Prius C shows there is a strong appetite for a cheap, fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle,” Caldwell said. Toyota is selling two other versions of the Prius that it didn’t have last March: the Prius V wagon and a plug-in version of the Prius that drives longer on battery power. Those added another 5,800 sales to Toyota’s bottom line. Mark Chasey, general manager of McEleney Toyota in Clinton, Iowa, said about half of the cars his dealership sells are hybrids. He could sell even more if they weren’t in such tight supply. Toyota currently has a 17-day supply of Priuses, far less than the optimal 60 days. Toyota also had the sec- Top 10 hybrid and electric cars sold in March Hybrid and electric cars saw record U.S. sales in March as gas prices rose and new models hit the market. Here are the top ten hybrid cars in March by sales. Toyota Prius hatchback, 18,008 Toyota Camry hybrid, 5,404 Toyota Prius V, 4,937 Toyota Prius C, 4,875 Chevrolet Volt, 2,289 Lexus CT, 2,223 Chevrolet Malibu hybrid, 1,416 Hyundai Sonata hybrid, 1,397 Buick LaCrosse hybrid, 1,117 Honda Insight, 1,032 Sources: Ward’s AutoInfoBank, Toyota Motor Corp. ond best-selling hybrid last month, the Camry hybrid. After the Camry, the biggest selling hybrids were the Lexus CT and hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata and Buick LaCrosse. Celebrating the earth with some baby vegetables E arth Day is April 22, but I like to try to celebrate Earth Day all year long. I suppose you could say I celebrate Earth Year. I had a great pre-Earth Day celebration Saturday, when I got some new baby vegetable plants, went on a wildflower hike and helped remove an invasive species. e day started off with some purchases at the Boyle County High School FFA greenhouse. It was opening day for the greenhouse and it was jampacked with many varieties of tomato plants, lots of pepper plants and even broccoli, along with all kinds of other plants too numerous to keep track of. Last year was the first year we grew tomatoes — we had one little bushy Amanda’s Animal Fact of the Week Amanda Wheeler Eco-columnist tomato plant named Teddy. is year, we purchased three different varieties of tomato plants: German Johnson, Lemon Boy and Super Sweet 100. At $1.50 for each three-pack of tomato plants, it was a great deal; we even wound up with more plants than we wanted and shared the extras with my mother-inlaw. e German Johnson tomatoes will grow very large and are good for slicing. e Lemon Boys grow to be a medium size tomato that is good for slicing and The honey badger is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fearless creature on earth. will hopefully add some nice color to my salads. e Super Sweet 100’s are cherry tomatoes that I plan on putting in salads — if I can manage not to eat them right as soon as I pick them off the vine. We got some sweet banana peppers, which I’m looking forward to using on pizzas, sandwiches and salads. We also got some King Arthur Sweet Bell Peppers, which I’m going to attempt to stir fry and use in creat- ing a homemade Philly cheesesteak sandwich. e greenhouse had much more than just vegetable plants — the FFA students are also caring for lots of very pretty flowers. We ended up getting some pretty celosia flowers that are now brightening up our front porch with their pinks, yellows, oranges and magentas. Right now, our vegetables are all in intermediate pots so we can pull them inside if it’s going to frost overnight. Soon enough, I hope to be enjoying all kinds of homegrown, good-for-me and good-for-the-environment veggie deliciousness. If anyone has recipes that use any of the veggies I’m growing, email me and I might try out your recipe PRE-ORDER NOW FOR WEDDINGS, CHRISTENINGS AND COMMUNIONS! “Make sure to celebrate Earth Day. Even if you’re busy on the official Earth Day, pick another day to make your own personal Earth Day.” and write about in a column. Next week I’ll talk about the second half of my awesome day,when I went on a wildflower walk at the Central Kentucky Wildlife Refuge. Make sure to celebrate Earth Day. Even if you’re busy on the official Earth Day, pick another day to make your own personal Earth Day. If you’ve got some time on Earth Day (or Earth Weekend), you can check out local celebrations, including the Earth Day Festival 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the Garrard County Fairgrounds. Abandoned home. Families needed. Land/Home packages now available. Some move-in ready! Since 1971 1-866-514-7221 506 S. 4 TH S TREET , D ANVILLE 8 59 - 236 - KIDS (5437) Clayton Home of Stanford 807 Hwy. 27 N Stanford, KY. 40484 • 606-365-9118

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