Go green to save green? 'That's a big chunk of money'

EUGENE, Ore. - Kirk Gebb has car payments that might give you pause: $450 per month.

But for Gebb, the pay off is driving by all the gasoline pumps.

And as for rising fuel prices, Gebb says, "Bring it on."

"It's fine with me," he said. "It just makes my averages look that more attractive."

Gebb was one of the first people in Eugene to take delivery on a fully electric Nissan Leaf.

"I have no problem achieving 100 miles" per charge, he said, "and I'm by no means the most efficient driver."

Electric vehicles and gas-electric hybrids are taking a larger share of the Oregon car market, with a little help from the taxman: Gebb said federal and state tax credits totaling $9,000 were a huge factor in his decision.

"Personally I would have done it even with out it, but for those on the edge, that's a big chunk of money," Gebb said.

According to a University of Oregon study, if you hang on to that hybrid or EV long enough, the savings can be big.

The UO planning workshop team figured the annual electrical cost to charge an EV costs $250.

Fuel costs for a gas car, assuming $3.50 per gallon and 30 miles per gallon, add up to $1,400 per year for the same mileage.

What about hybrids and their batteries?

KVAL News took a look at a Toyota Prius with well over 100,000 miles on it at the Lane Community College Automotive Centers.

"People worry about the maintenance costs of the hybrid," said Egan Riordan in the LCC Car Service Department. "There really isn't anything outstanding about the hybrid that they should worry about."

And replacing the batteries?

Riordan said those costs have dropped in recent years to about $2,300.

Bottom line for Gebb: it all pencils out.

"It's been a great vehicle," he said. "Zero issues so far."