June 9, 2012

AND THEY'LL ONLY GET CHEAPER:

Can gas savings make up for a hybrid's higher sticker price? (Jerry Hirsch, 6/10/12, Los Angeles Times)


You need to figure out how much money saved at the pump will add up to the cost difference between a hybrid and the same or similar model in a gas-only vehicle.

Let's go back to our Camry example. On average, the hybrid version sells for $25,850, about $3,300 more than the regular model, according to car price information company TrueCar.com. Factor in the tax and licensing fees on both versions and the difference climbs to close to $3,600, depending on where you live.

Using $4 a gallon, 13,500 miles of annual driving and a ratio of 55% city driving, the hybrid saves about $650 a year. That means it takes about five years to save enough in gas to recoup the extra expense at today's prices.

Our analysis of hybrid and regular Ford Fusions and Hyundai Sonatas also came up with paybacks in about the same range.

Those who drive 75% or more of their miles at highway speeds aren't likely to make the difference back during the life of the car. The payback comes at about the 10-year mark.

However, for some cars -- mostly the more expensive brands that don't charge a premium for the hybrid models -- the savings are immediate and significant.

Buick sells hybrid and gas-only versions of the LaCrosse with the same sticker price of $31,115 for similar trim and features, according to the EPA. When you plug in our fuel cost and mileage numbers, the hybrid version saves $725 a year on fuel when driven 55% of the time in city traffic.

The hybrid and gas-only version of the Lincoln MKZ also have the same sticker price -- $35,630 -- but the hybrid model saves the driver almost $1,200 a year based on our analysis.

You can compare vehicles and your own calculations based on your driving patterns at this handy EPA website: FuelEconomy.gov.

Should I worry about the new technology?

Consider this: 95% of all the Toyota Prius hybrids sold since 2000 are still on the road today. That's a lot of years of fuel savings for their owners.

Posted by at June 9, 2012 9:26 AM
  

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