Hybrid technology is certainly not new, but if you’ve been in the market recently for a new car, you’ve probably considered buying one. If you have already purchased a hybrid, thank you for helping to reduce global dependence on oil.
However, what’s in it for you? Does buying a hybrid car save you money? Is there a compelling case for opting for the hybrid car over the non-hybrid alternative?
If you think “Hey, I’m getting more MPG so I’m saving money …” keep your horses because you might be missing some important details. Hybrid technology is not new, but it does come at a cost. Not just a higher price tag for the battery technology itself. Also due to the environmental cost of manufacturing the additional equipment needed to operate hybrid cars.
The latter is important because your “green” car may not be as green as you think. We already have enough trouble getting rid of the batteries that are already in production. Imagine yourself after the production of millions of hybrid cars.
Since the main reason most of us buy hybrid cars is fuel economy, let’s look at some examples to compare hybrids to non-hybrids:
A Ford Fusion has a base price of $ 19,850 and a Ford Fusion Hybrid will set you back $ 29,395. Just under $ 10,000 is the difference between the base prices of the two models. The difference in mileage: 23 and 41 MPG respectively in the city. So maybe double your gas mileage.
The base price for a Honda Civic today is $ 15,805 and a Honda Civic Hybrid will set you back $ 24,050. Again, just under $ 10,000. The difference in gas mileage is 16 MPG, as the hybrid version has 44 MPG city and the standard 28 MPG.
A Toyota Corolla costs $ 15,900 and a Toyota Prius $ 23,520 as a base price. The difference in gas mileage between the two cars is 23 MPG in the city, with the Prius at 51 MPG and the Corolla at 28 MPG. So you get just under twice the MPG of the Prius. Your sticker price difference at the same time is around $ 7,000.
As for a more expensive luxury hybrid, the Lexus GS costs $ 58,950 and the standard, non-hybrid model costs about $ 46,900. A price difference of $ 12,000 !!! Its difference in gas mileage? Not as much as you might expect … just 3 MPG more for the hybrid version!
So how does hybrid technology compare to standard cars today?
All of these examples clearly demonstrate that the initial cost of a hybrid is not to be taken lightly. If you’re buying a car to save gas and hopefully save some money in the long run, you want your investment to be worth it.
But even the simplest calculation based on the numbers above shows that with such a significant difference in the tag price, it would take you at least 5-10 years to get the extra money you paid in the first place. The exact number of years you would need to drive depends on your annual mileage, but even if you drive 15,000 miles per year, it is unlikely to be less than 5 to 7 years. Check out a similar article with some brief calculations here.
Usually when we invest money, we all expect some return, right? I’m not naive in believing that buying a car is a good investment in the first place, but paying the added cost of hybrid technology should be. It’s the way human psychology works, that we tend to forget the upfront cost of a car, especially when we’re eager to get that new car smell. We only focus on the monthly “savings” from better gas mileage.
However, from the looks of it, you are expected to pay $ 10,000 up front with the promise that if you drive a lot, you will probably get your money back in 5-10 years. How does that make any financial sense?
I’m also sure some will argue that a Toyota Prius is better equipped than a base-price Toyota Corolla. And you’ll be right, but that’s not why you buy the Prius, is it? You buy it for fuel economy and you can’t get it for less than $ 23,520. Besides that, the quality of the material and the feel of the interior are not much different.
In conclusion, hybrid technology is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of developing more fuel-efficient green cars. It seems a bit early to return any real benefits to the individual driver like you and me.