In February 2006, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States was about $2.20. But over the next six months, that price would rise by almost 50%, topping out at about $3.25. For commuters and families that relied on their cars to get them around their communities, there was a noticeable pinch in the family budgets. 

Ever since then, the sales of hybrid cars have taken off. Once thought to be an expensive choice only for environmentalists, many now believe owning these vehicles is the key to both saving money over the long run, and helping to slow down global warming.

Adding to the movement has been the emergence of all-electric vehicles. Though Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) gets most of the attention in this sub-industry, Chevy has its Volt and Nissan (NASDAQOTH:NSANY) has its Leaf on the market as well.

But there's a key factor in determining if a hybrid or electric car is worth your money. Though its a well-known factor in the industry, its one that many folks looking to buy a car might not be aware of. In this video, Motley Fool contributor Brian Stoffel discusses what this factor is, how it might affect investors, and what consumers need to know.

Where the real money can be made in auto sales
U.S. automakers boomed after WWII, but the coming boom in the Chinese auto market will put that surge to shame! As Chinese consumers grow richer, savvy investors can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the help from this brand-new Motley Fool report that identifies two automakers to buy for a surging Chinese market. It's completely free -- just click here to gain access.

Fool contributor Brian Stoffel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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