Hybrids on the move

Hybrid cars have drawn their fair share of ridicule over the years.

One’s mind can easily wander to Hollywood comedy capers like The Other Guys, where Toyota Prius jokes were a dime a dozen, but nevertheless, hybrids and more recently electric cars have shown that they are here to stay.

Comparatively, South Africa is a little way behind the rest of the world in terms of uptake of eco-friendly vehicles. Primarily, the lag seems to stem from the country’s lack of financial rebates and cash incentives, which are available in the West.

“In the absence of government subsidies, these vehicles remain prohibitively expensive for the majority of South Africans,” the Palace Group.

“That said, Toyota has made a concerted effort to make hybrids more accessible and more mainstream by offering ‘bread and butter’ models with full hybrid technology. The Yaris HSD for example is the most affordable hybrid on the market, retailing at R 230 600 compared to R181 000 for the petrol equivalent. Considering an average mileage of 12 000km’s per year, you can expect to see a return on your investment at the end of the first year. For cash-strapped South Africans it becomes an attractive proposition.”

Indeed, some dealerships confirm that interest for Hybrids is growing in South Africa.

“Over the last few months, we have seen an average of at least 3-4 Yaris Hybrid’s leave our showroom floor, making their way onto our highways and byways. And these millennial eco-warriors are not so easy to find, so we are getting customers calling us from as far wide as Limpopo and further,” says Durban South Toyota.

It thus appears that the initial scepticism around hybrids is waning. Whether people were put off by the cars as being too trendy, it is hard to say, but there does seem to be renewed interest, with even pre-owned cars  of this variety being in greater demand.

So taking the eco-consciousness element out of the equation, why is buying a hybrid a good idea right now? Here are the key reasons:

  • Saving on fuel: With South Africa’s petrol price once again soaring, expect to find more people considering hybrids and their ability to operate on battery power;
  • Torque: Electric motors yield the maximum torque rating immediately;
  • No idling: Hybrids hardly ever idle their gasoline motors, thereby further saving on petrol;
  • Improved driving habits: Most of us waste fuel simply because of the way we drive. Hybrids compel drivers to be more careful when putting ‘pedal to the metal’ or braking too often; and
  • Higher resale value: Hybrids have been found to be some of the most reliable cars on the market – a fact that is not lost on used car dealerships and private buyers.