Many people have asked why I don't buy a Prius or similar style hybrid. Well I'm just not impressed by the technology. They are vehicles that mostly run on gas and occasionally run on electricity. The gas mileage is only slightly better than the vehicles I drive. I estimated that when gas prices were at their peak, the payback period for the additional costs of a hybrid was 8 to 10 years. I want a hybrid that mostly runs on electricity but that vehicle doesn't exist.
The Prius is now 9 years old and that technology is dated. The next generation of hybrids is what I'm waiting for. These cars will have both a plug-in electric motor and a gas motor. But the gas motor doesn't drive the car at all. It only recharges the car's battery. If your trip is less that 80 km or 50 miles then the gas motor doesn't come on at all. Think about how many trips in a year are longer than that. Not that many. You will be able to get 100 miles to the gallon or better if your daily commute is short.
One of the problems is that battery technology has to further evolve. Today's hybrids have nickel-cadmium batteries which is why the cares are outdated. The next generation will have lithium-ion batteries which can store more energy. How long do we have to wait? The Volt is coming out in 2011 and Toyota is likely to jump out first next year with their plug-in hybrid Prius (below).