New Scorecard Evaluates Perhaps Unnecessary Hybrid Vehicle Features

Want a hybrid, but wonder what you’re really getting for that higher price-tag? The Union of Concerned Scientists knows (and they want you to know, too.) That’s why they’ve released a new Hybrid Scorecard–a comprehensive system for hybrid vehicles currently on the market that rates the cost of the hybrid drive-train versus what they call “forced features.”

Forced features are somewhat like the pork that gets rolled into legislative measures; extras and add-ons meant to sweeten the deal. In the case of hybrid vehicles, forced features include DVD players, keyless entry, leather interiors and a range of other luxury add-ons that the Union of Concerned Scientists say drive the costs of hybrids out of range for less affluent buyers.

image via Toyota

According to Green Car Reports, the top-scoring hybrid this year is the Toyota Prius, which only tacks on $1600 worth of luxury features onto the cost of its hybrid drive train. The worst offender? The Lexus LS 600h L full-size luxury sedan hybrid, weighing in with $17,000 worth of “forced features” over the base of its non-hybrid LS 460L model.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.