Which Hybrid Models Save You Money?


People buy hybrids for a variety of reasons: to save money on gas, reduce environmental harms, or project an image as a socially-conscious driver. But on a pure economics basis, are hybrids really the way to go? Does using less gas actually translate into real savings over the life of a hybrid?

As you might expect, the answer is: it depends. The number of greenbacks that hybrid drivers save varies greatly depending on the model. Last week, Vincentric—an automotive analytics firm—released a study comparing 33 hybrid models on the United States market to their closest non-hybrid equivalents. The annual study aimed to compare the TCO (total cost of ownership) of hybrids and conventional vehicles.

Vincentric found that, among those 33 hybrids, 13 models present a lower cost of ownership than their gas-only counterparts. Yes, if you use every single hybrid available on the market to create an average, the cost to own a gas-electric car is $1,338 higher than the pure gas-powered versions. But that average is skewed, because the least cost-effective of the bunch don’t sell nearly as well as the hybrids with quicker payback periods.

The Best Hybrid Values for 2013

The list of the best 2013 hybrid ownership values, with the amount you’re like to save over five years:

  • Lexus CT 200h – $6,379 (Pictured above)
  • Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – $4,778
  • Audi Q5 Hybrid – $3,805
  • Mercedes-Benz S Class Hybrid – $3,283
  • Toyota Avalon Hybrid – $2,222
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – $1,674
  • Toyota Prius V – $1,528
  • Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid – $1,487
  • Honda Insight – $1,079
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid – $803
  • Toyota Prius C – $474
  • Acura ILX Hybrid – $471
  • Lexus ES 300h – $195

Wait a sec. The most popular hybrid in the country, the 2013 Toyota Prius, is not on the list. That’s because, according to Vincentric, owners of the Prius Liftback will lose $2,405 compared to its closest comparing vehicle, the Toyota Corolla. (The Corolla recently received a major overhaul resulting in vastly improved fuel economy.)

Two other Prius variants—the smaller Prius C and larger Prius V—did however save money compared to their non-hybrid equivalents.

Cost of ownership was determined based on a variety of factors including fuel savings, resale value, insurance, tax fees, and maintenance. These costs were estimated over a five-year period assuming annual mileage of 15,000 miles.

“Because over half of the hybrids we evaluated have higher five-year ownership costs compared to their all-gasoline counterparts, it is important that consumers look at individual models to understand the cost implications of hybrid technology,” said Vincentric president David Wurster.

In Plain English, that translates to this: If you want a hybrid, choose the right one. Some, but not all, hybrid cars can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars over a five-year period.

Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy ebay Green Driving.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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