Rising gas prices has some drivers looking to hybrids

February 25, 2012 1:39:42 AM PST
Gas prices took another big jump overnight: the average price in San Francisco is now $4.26 per gallon, 26 cents higher than just a week ago. San José and Oakland are up five cents since Thursday. When gas prices begin to rise, a lot of drivers trade-in their gas guzzlers for more efficient cars.

Over the last six years, Daniel Ni says he's become less worried about price spikes at the pump.

"As a hybrid owner, I don't even look at the gas prices these days," Ni said.

His white Toyota Prius has become his work horse, logging more than 160,000 miles. He owns a window tinting business and doesn't just use the car for his commute, he often also shuttles workers to jobs around town.

"Comparatively to when I drove my BMW, you know, I was paying $60, $70, $80 to fill up a tank, whereas as soon as I started driving the Prius -- $35, and I'm a happy camper," Ni said.

Over the last few years, when prices surge some people have a similar lament as Lloyd Boutavan, who was on his way to pick up his porches from the shop.

"Car's probably going to be up for sale here tomorrow," Boutavan said. "Yes, I don't know if I can afford to continue on driving a car and spending a hundred dollars every single week just filling it up."

And with Bay Area gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, the pain at the pump has become music to some car dealers' ears.

"It's been a great week, it's almost doubled and tripled in sales just over the past five days," Courtesey Chevrolet's Troy Pelzl said.

He says many of their more fuel efficient models have been popular this week. But it's the Volt that's the big draw.

One Volt owner said she drove her car 3,000 miles before having to re-fuel last week.

That's because it plugs-in and runs on electricity for 30 miles before tapping into its gas tank. Most of her daily drive is about 10 miles between home and work so she rarely uses her fuel tank.

There have been concerns about the longevity of these hybrid and electric cars, especially with replacement batteries that for a Prius cost about $2,500.

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