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To Hybrid Or Not To Hybrid?

Hybrids almost always cost more than comparable, conventionally powered models.

Hybrids almost always cost more than comparable, conventionally powered models.

But the Toyota Camry Hybrid will save enough in gas to recoup that extra cost in well under two years, which makes it an excellent deal.

Indeed, we can’t understand why anyone would buy a Camry without the gas-saving, environment-friendly hybrid powertrain.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about most other hybrids, some of which need more than a decade of savings to recoup their higher initial price.

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Comments (4)
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4 Existing Comments
  1. basicmoneytips said:
    on November 26th at 07:28 am

    Good post – you have to do a lot of in town driving to make a hybrid pay for itself.

    However, if you look at the bigger picture for what you are doing for the environment as well as the money you are saving in gas, I say go for it.

    If you are only looking at the savings in gas, you can probably beat it with a 4 cylinder small car of some type.

  2. Mike M said:
    on December 2nd at 12:57 pm

    I’m not sure how they come up with under two years. There isn’t even a link to find this story.

    According to owner data at fueleconomy.gov, Camry hybrid owners are averaging 36.7 mpg and I4 owners are getting 26.1. Comparably equipped, a Camry LE will cost $3922 less (invoice) than the hybrid.

    At 15,000 miles per year, that’s 409 gallons for the hybrid and 575
    gallons for the non-hybrid. At $2.53 per gallon, that’s $1034 for the hybrid and $1454 for the non-hybrid.

    So you’re paying $3922 to save $420 per year in gas. At 2% interest, that’s over 10 years to pay that extra back, NOT “under 2”.

    By comparison, the Ford Fusion comes in at 40.2 mpg (hybrid) and 28.9 mpg (nonhybrid). Unfortunately, the Fusion hybrid only comes with high trim lines…. but then the Fusion hybrid is only $1009 more than a comparably equipped SEL. The hybrid doesn’t have leather, so tack on $1000 for that difference in equipment. So that’s $2009 difference. At 15k miles per year and 2% interest, it pays back in just under 6 years…. a FAR better rate of return than the Camry hybrid.

  3. crankysaver said:
    on December 3rd at 11:09 am

    Edmonds.com is a pretty authoritative source of data on stuff like car prices. Here’s a link to the original story that offers payback times for a wide range of models, plus diesels:

    http://www.autoobserver.com/2009/07/diesels-paying-back-quicker-than-hybrids-edmundscom-reports.html

    This is a link to a followup story that deals mostly with revising Toyota payback times:

    http://www.autoobserver.com/2009/08/updated-data-revises-some-hybrid-payback-times.html

    And here’s a post from Edmunds Green Car Advisor that lists every hybrid and diesel model (as of last July) and its price, fuel economy and “premium” over a conventional counterpart:

    http://blogs.edmunds.com/greencaradvisor/2009/07/still-shopping-with-big-rebates-hybrids-and-diesels-can-be-attractive.html

  4. Mike M said:
    on December 3rd at 11:54 am

    Sorry, but Edmonds is FAR from authoritative here. They’ve grossly underestimated the price premium for the Camry hybrid and grossly overestimated the premium for the Fusion hybrid. The result is that their analysis is useless.