"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

May 25, 2007

If you could put a dollar amount on the value of getting to drive solo in the carpool lane, how much do you think it would be? How about $4,000?


It's become the eco-friendly and economical choice for many drivers. But there is an unusual reason why some hybrids are worth more.

Unless you carpool, you know the daily grind is painful.

Too bad California stopped issuing those HOV stickers for hybrids, allowing some solo drivers to use the carpool lane.

Now, the only way to get that valuable yellow sticker is by buying a used car.

"Kelly Blue Book" estimates the resale value of a used Prius with a HOV sticker is worth $4,000 more than a car without it.

CarMax in Roseville says it hasn't seen that resale spike yet, but agrees there's another benefit.

"That's absolutely the case. The sticker will stay with the car, not transferable. Again, benefits are there for the vehicle with the sticker," says Mike McCauley, Purchasing Manager at CarMax.

Kelly blue book also estimates driving a hybrid would save you $39 an hour, for a 30-minute commute.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

I purchased my Toyota Prius in 2002 for $26,000 and have put 90,000 miles on it. I get about 50mpg. Assuming an average gas price of $2.50/gal (here in California for the past 5 years), I have saved (compared to the purchase of a 25mpg vehicle) about $4,500 in gas costs. If I sold the car tomorrow with the $4,000 HOV sticker (which I got from the DMV for $8!) I would cash in a cool $8,500, making the relative purchase price about $17,500 (not counting for inflation).

Kelly Blue Book says it's worth $12,330. This means I've lost $5,170 in depreciation. That comes to a cost of around $1,000 per year. This has turned out to be the best purchase I've made in my life (next to a wedding ring for my wife, of course).

The point I'm trying to make here is not that I know how to save money, but rather that, if you consider factors other than how pretty a car looks and what the neighbors might think, then purchasing an environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient car is a smart thing to do for many reasons.

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