High gas prices have some Tennesseans turning to hybrids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- If you think $4.00 gas is just the beginning, you may be looking for a long-term solution, and a hybrid car may be the answer.

At Toyota of Knoxville, there's a waiting list.

Toyota's been in the hybrid business for more than 12 years.

And consumer reports says that it normally takes about two-and-half years to start getting your money back on a hybrid, but if gas prices keep going up, you'll re-coup those dollars a lot quicker.

Rick Wilson with Toyota of Knoxville says it's power from two motors, an electric and a gasoline. With the two big upsides to a hybrid being.

"Obviously, you get great gas mileage. The second one is almost zero emissions, so it's ultra low emissions into the environment."

And if you drive at least 15-hundred miles a month, Rick says.

Wilson says, "If they were to switch to a Prius, they would save $145 a month in gas costs."

And over time, the dollars really add up.

Wilson says, "You'll save about eight-thousand dollars in fuel costs over five-years, if gas stays the same right now."

And the Prius, Highlander and Camry hybrids look just like a normal vehicle.

Sean Ahern owns and drives a hybrid Toyota Camry and says, "They had come out with something that's a little bit more of a kind of a normal car something people say when they see my car is this is weird, it just looks like a normal car. What in the world?"

And you don't plug your car into your house.

Wilson says, "Basically, the energy that the electric system inside the hybrid recharges automatically when you apply your brakes."

Rick says the life of the battery runs in the hundreds of thousands of miles and the hybrid has a very good crash test rating, too.

Wilson says, "Traction control, brake assistance, ABS, of course, side air bags."

So, the goal by now is to have given you and me a real good idea of what a hybrid is and just what it can do to make your life a little easier at the gas pump.

But if you don't drive that much Wilson says, "How many miles a month do you drive? If you don't drive that many miles, it's probably not worth the investment."

He also says the Camry hybrid runs about $2,000 to $3,000 more than the regular Camry, but that hybrid also has more features plus higher re-sale value and lower maintenance.

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