September 26, 2005

Hybrids: Don't buy the hype?

I’m all for more efficient cars, and less harmful auto emissions --- and I was pretty interested in hybrid cars a few years back, but as of late I’ve been pretty leery of them. It seems to me if the car switches over to gas when you rev up over 35 mph, then it’s pretty useless on California freeways where the average speed is 70 mph (unless of course you go during rush hour, then it’s more like 7 mph.) Also the high price of ownership, from the initial sticker price to maintenance I think is gravely understated.

Reading this article today pretty much solidified my current views on the issue.
Toyota is now measuring "time on the lot" for the Toyota Prius in hours, not days. The average Prius goes unsold for only about 20 hours after it hits a Toyota dealer's lot, according to a recent report.

With gasoline prices now around $3 a gallon, you might think it makes a lot of sense that hybrid cars are hot sellers.

Actually, it doesn't -- at least not a lot of financial sense.

They may make a social statement you're interested in, but if you want to save money because of rising gas prices, you're heading down the wrong road, at least for now.
Some simple calculations by our partners at revealed the following:

A hybrid Honda Accord costs about $3,800 more than the comparable non-hybrid version, including purchase, maintenance and insurance costs. Over five years, assuming 15,000 miles of driving per year, you'll make up that cost in gasoline money if the price of gas goes up immediately to $9.20 a gallon and averages that for the whole period.

For the Ford Escape hybrid, the difference is less stark. To make up the difference over five years between the Escape hybrid and a Ford Escape XLT, gas prices would have to average $5.60 after you purchase the vehicle.


At September 27, 2005 10:43 AM, Blogger Dahcredyns said...

I live in Los Angeles and very rarely do I average 70 mph. In fact, in urban LA, I never hit 70 mph. In fact, my entire commute is stop and go. In that type of driving a Prius can achieve as much as 60 mpg.

The CNN study, and most hybrid critics, use EPA data in their criticism of hybrids. The EPA is off by as much as 50 percent.

A more reliable study is Consumer Reports. For city driving, according to Consumer Reports, the Prius achieves 45 mpg. The Ford Focus - Ford's fuel economy superstar - achieves 17 mpg. Is that hype? (

Plug-in hybrids and experimental hybrids have achieved as much as 250 mpg, at far less cost than million dollar fuel cell vehicles.

Now is the time to invest in hybrid

Chad Snyder


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