Hybrid Cost

The cost of the gas powered vehicle is then subtracted from the higher cost of the corresponding hybrid vehicle. The difference is what you need to break even.
Your annual gas savings amount is how you will slowly make up the difference. 

For the break-even calculation, gasoline costs were checked at $3/gallon USD and again at $6/gallon USD. The gasoline used to go 15,000 miles is multiplied times $3 and 6$. These are annual gas costs, since the distance is $15,000 per year.

The differences in vehicle (hybrid-gas) costs are then divided by the gasoline costs. So you have Hybrid Cost Difference $ / Gas Cost $/Year = Years to break even.

The first thing you might notice is that the Prius has no exact match. The two closest models were used in that case.

Next you notice that it takes years, many years in some cases (50 for the BMW) to make up in gas savings the differences in cost between gas powered and hybrid vehicles. As gas goes higher to $6/gallon, this time is cut in half. 

Note that these years to break even are very sensitive to vehicle cost. Unfortunately, this cost is the most variable due to the many different trim levels, model types, and dealer pricing levels out there.

On the charts below, the Lexus 250h series hybrid offers the quickest payback.
The Lincoln MKZ, Chevy Tahoe and Toyota Camry are not too far behind. Note that the prices on the chart are just averages for illustration. Actual prices will be higher or lower. 

However, the Nissan Altima Hybrid offers a relatively short payback coupled with a
$2,350 tax credit from the US Government. If you can make this work for you, the
Altima might just be a no-brainer given its lower cost.

Are Hybrid Cars Worth It: Battery Pack Replacement

Finally, a word on battery pack costs. When considering are hybrid cars worth it, battery pack pack failure is a possibility at some point, especially on higher mileage vehicles.

The hybrid vehicle in general is too new to give a lot of useful data regarding pack replacement. High mileage results are coming in, but not enough yet to determine are hybrid cars worth it in terms of battery replacement. However, it is now realistic to expect a modern hybrid battery pack to last to the 10 year mark, or 100,000 miles and up.

Manufacturers are interested in are hybrid cars worth it from a warranty and failure point of view. As a result, they tend to over design and over built the battery components. So, premature failure has been minimized, with only 0.003 of Prius packs needing early replacement so far.

However, according to government testing, the Prius for example retains only 39% of charge at 160,000 miles. This means that the Prius is running more and more on the (ICE) engine as it gets older.

Based on Government testing and reports from owners, it appears that new hybrids can easily reach upwards of 160,000 miles or so with the original battery pack intact. This is a very general mileage figure which will become more defined as time goes on and more people report on their pack problems.

At some point however, pack replacement will be needed. From a review of current owner reports, it appears that pack replacement could be needed at near the double century mark. From the 15,000 miles average mileage used 200,000 miles would be about 13 years of service.

As with many auto related mechanical estimates, pack replacement numbers are
pretty general. It appears from current data that your cost for a new pack could range from around $3,000 to double that. Reconditioned packs run about half the new price.

The bottom line here is that if you have a relatively new hybrid with low miles, pack replacement should not be an issue.

However, a take a hybrid with many years and miles: The pack will probably need work. The fuel savings  will not offset the pack replacement cost. If you are looking at a used hybrid with 180,000 miles on it, think of battery cost.

If you are interested in direct comparison of Hybrid fuel economy, CO2 output and prices, see the previous page.
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Are Hybrid Cars Worth It

Are hybrid cars worth it? There are 3 ways to answer that question:

1. Economically in the short term, no. In the medium to long term, yes. Fuel cost economics are listed below. Take a few minutes to read it, and the analysis will help you understand the cost savings realized by hybrid vehicles. For a hybrid cost comparison, see the previous page. For a hybrid payback calculator, see the icon to the lower right.

2. Air quality short term, yes. Air quality long term, no.

3. Resource short term, yes. Resource long term, no.
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Are Hybrid Cars Worth It? You decide from the numbers.
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Hybrid Facts
2011 - 3,236 Altimas were sold in the U.S.
Download the hybrid miles to break even calculator here
2.63 million sold Worldwide
as of May, 2012
Economics:

Lets begin by looking at the costs for hybrid cars. Mileage estimates are provided by the US EPA. The assumption is made that maintenance costs are the same for gas powered and hybrid vehicles.

The chart below shows the simple analysis are hybrid cars worth it. On the chart, the increased cost of hybrid vehicles is compared to
the increased fuel economy, and fuel cost savings.

On the chart, average mileage figures are given for a hybrid vehicle (first vehicle listed), and corresponding gas only powered vehicle (second one listed). Note that the EPA in their default analysis uses a 55% in town vs. 45% highway MPG rating.

15,000 miles are used in the Gal Gas column to compute the average gallons of gas needed to travel 15,000 miles per year. For example, the Prius needs 303 gallons on average to go 15,000 miles per year.

Next is the vehicle cost, from Yahoo Cars and other sources as needed. These are mostly invoice costs. These costs may vary considerably, but should do for comparative purposes.
Download the hybrid miles to break even calculator here
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Hybrid Statistics