- Dave Kinzer
Should You Buy A Hybrid Vehicle?
With the price of gas skyrocketing lately, many prospective car buyers are no doubt considering buying a hybrid vehicle, maybe for the first time.
I remember first hearing about hybrids in the early 2000s. They interested me, but I didn’t want to take the chance on new technology for such a major purchase. Little did I know; the hybrid vehicle was not a new concept.
Ferdinand Porsche unveiled his Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil at the Paris Exposition in 1900. That’s not a typo. The first car to run by a combination of gasoline and electric power is well over one hundred years old.
The Elektromobil was popular, apparently, but Henry Ford’s cars had only a gasoline engine and were much cheaper. Hybrids couldn’t compete with the lower price, so they disappeared.
Over the next ninety-seven years, car manufacturers such as GM and Audi experimented with various hybrid models, but none experienced much success. Finally, in 1997, Toyota began selling the Prius in Japan. It won “Japan Car of the Year”, and has since sold more than six million units.
Since 1997, Toyota has expanded its hybrid lineup, but so has just about every other car manufacturer: There are dozens of hybrid vehicles of all types to choose from today. And they continue to sell. Over 1.2 million hybrids were purchased in the United States in 2021.
So, should you buy one?
One thing to consider is the extra cost. Many manufacturers will offer two versions of a car: the regular model, and the hybrid model. The hybrid will always be more expensive.
To determine if it’s worth it to buy the more expensive hybrid model, you’ve just got to do some simple math.
According to Edmunds.com, a hybrid can cost up to 20% more than the regular car. This is just an estimate though, and not always accurate.
When I searched Autotrader for a brand new 2022 Honda CR-V Hybrid EX within 100 miles of Springfield, I found one priced only $1595 more than the regular CR-V EX, a price difference of only approximately 5%.
You’ll need to look closely at each car to see which options, bells, and whistles each one has of course, but the point is don’t automatically discount hybrid models because you think they’re going to be 20% more expensive than the regular car.
Just be sure to compare the hybrid to the model with the same trim.
Once you decide on the hybrid you want, analyze your driving habits. Do you drive enough to justify buying a hybrid?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, an average person drives around 13,500 miles each year.
If we use the CR-V as our example, you’ll have to pay $1595 to get the hybrid model. It gets approximately 37.5 mpg, while the regular CR-V EX gets around 31 mpg.
With the hybrid EX, if you drive 13,500 miles, you’ll spend $1,440 on 360 gallons of gas at $4/gallon. For the regular EX, you’ll spend $1,741 for the same number of miles.
In this scenario, the hybrid will save you $301 in one year. That’s not even close to making back the $1595 extra you spent to get the hybrid model. If you keep the vehicle for a long time, you’d finally get your money back in gas savings sometime during the sixth year.
If you usually trade in your new cars within five years of buying them, however, the hybrid would not have saved you any gas money. In this case, you’d have been better off buying the regular model.
If you usually drive your cars until the wheels fall off, however, you could look forward to saving around $300 a year on gas in this example.
Of course, how much you save each year will depend on your driving habits and the cost of gas.
From personal experience, I can tell you I have not regretted purchasing a Toyota Prius in 2005 one bit. During the colder months it will average around 41 miles per gallon, while in the warmer months it will get around 45 miles per gallon.
That takes some of the sting out of paying over $4 for gas.
I would definitely recommend purchasing a hybrid for your next vehicle. At least consider it.
If you drive your cars for a long time, the extra cost will be worth it, and you’ll save money on gas for years to come.