Currently, gas prices have dropped down again, but whether they are high or low, having to spend less for gasoline is always alluring. So, when you see a hybrid advertising an estimated 49 mpg’s in the city, you begin to wonder if you should consider buying one. But, are they really worth the extra initial cost? Let’s look at some figures to decide.
Obviously, there are several models of hybrids being made today, and several have been made over the past 10−15 years, so this post would become too lengthy if we tried to compare every hybrid to its conventional counterpart. Hence, we will choose only one as an example: the 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid vs. the 2017 Honda Accord LX. In this comparison, we’ll be looking at the base model of each.
According to Honda’s own website, the 2017 Accord LX starts at $22,455 and the 2017 Accord Hybrid starts at $29605. So, the price difference is $7150. To be sure, options and trim packages can move this price differential in either direction, but we’re looking at base to keep the comparison accurate.
Honda’s website also states that the LX’s mpg rating is 23 city/ 32 hwy, while the Hybrid’s is 49/47 (hybrids typically get better city mileage than highway mileage). If we take the average for each, we’ll establish that The LX gets 27.5 and the Hybrid gets 48. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s website, an American, on average, drives 13,476. If we allott 13,500 miles per year, we will find the LX will use approximately 491 gallons of gasoline each year. However, the Accord Hybrid will use about 281. As of July 3, 2017, the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.23. So, the LX will cost $1094.93 for fuel, but the Hybrid will cost $626.63. This means the owner of the Hybrid will have spent $468.30 less each year for gas. Remember, though, he/she spent $7150 more to purchase the car. Therefore the Hybrid owner will have to drive his/her car for 15.27 years to break even with the owner who bought the conventional Accord. However, looking at warranties, 15.27 years is 2-3 times the life of the car (15.27 x 13,500= 206,145 miles; Honda warranty= 5 yrs/100,000 miles).
Another thing to consider is the fact that both vehicles have gasoline engines and transmissions, so factoring in a new engine or transmission is really a moot point. However, only the Hybrid has a battery pack that may need replacement. Some authorities state that you should expect no more than 150,000 miles from a hybrid car’s batteries; there are exceptions to this rule, as usual. Since our numbers equate to 206,000 miles, we should plan for the likelihood of battery replacement. At 2017 prices, that is around $3000 including labor.
So, what does all of this mean? According to these numbers, a hybrid is not worth the extra cost from a purely financial point. However, if you feel you should have a smaller carbon footprint, then a hybrid would be the sensible option.
Coming from a different vantage point ,though, is that a used hybrid with high miles could be the ticket if you would like to bet against the odds. Some hybrids have batteries that make it beyond the 100,000 mile mark, yet many people are scared to go beyond this threshold. So, used hybrids with high miles are often priced cheaply. If you view the 100,000 mile mark as superstition, then a high-mileage used hybrid is for you. For those of us motivated from a purely financial standpoint, conventional cars are the way to go.