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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hybrid cars booming thanks to shorter payback time

Plus, a cool new feature coming to Honda minivans. Parents, take note!

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Minivan vacuum photo
At the New York Auto Show, Honda unveils a built-in vacuum cleaner in its updated Odyssey minivan.


It is so exciting to see America on the mend. Are we healthy yet? No. But the sickness is ending. Real estate markets are roaring back to life. And in all likelihood, we should never see a bubble quite like the one we had last decade, in our lifetime at least.

It's the same with the car market. A few years ago,  we weren't sure it would ever be viable again.

And time will tell how much the auto bailout played a part of this, and how good of a decision it was. But right now, in 2013, the U.S., European and Asian markets are now doing extraordinarily well. (And note: most of the "foreign" cars are now in fact being built right here in the U.S.!)

Here's one of the most surprising stats from the car industry: Hybrids are selling like hotcakes. And not just to kooks like Clark who like to be first to pioneer new technology.

Last week, Clark rented a Ford Fusion Hybrid. It was very economical, getting 35mpg (even though it was rated at 45mpg.) Still, that's fantastic mileage!

The reason for hybrid popularity? Today, the "payback" time for purchasing a hybrid is only few months to a few years--down from dozens of years when they first came out. So there's a real opportunity to save now.

In other car news:
The Honda Odyssey has a new upgrade that should really please minivan buyers. (We're looking at you, parents.) Speaking as a minivan-owning parent, Clark calls family vans "moving garbage trucks," referring to all the trash and food particles kids can leave behind. Well, the new Odyssey will have...a vacuum cleaner permanently built in to the interior! Parents, you know how handy that feature would be!

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