Do hybrid cars actually make economic sense?

The media loves to talk and write about electric and hybrid cars and how the environment is going to be saved. What about the savings, will your wallet love the fact that you had purchased the environmentally friendly hybrid?.  It is an OK reason to buy a hybrid car is you are wishing to switch to a greener car, but are you actually going to see any savings at all because of your reduction in gas purchases?

Does it make economic sense to buy a hybrid car? It does make sense financially to buy a hybrid car if you keep it for a long period of time.  You pay a premium to own a hybrid car, and if you recoup this added amount by the gas savings over a series of years, it logical to buy a hybrid.

How many miles do you need to drive to break even on a hybrid?

There are other ways that you saving with a hybrid, such as the reduction in maintenance costs over the lifetime of the car.  Nevertheless, I investigated to see how long it will take to break even on a hybrid, just based on fuel economy.

For these comparisons, I am sticking with the type of hybrid that can be plugged in since that is the type that I own. Also, since I live in a more urban setting, I will assume a 90 percent reduction in fuel costs per year.  Before I had my hybrid, I was spending about $200 per month on gas, now I am spending around $20 on average per month.

The Ford Fusion SE in 2016 was $24,000.  The Ford Fusion Energi, which is a plug-in hybrid was listed at $32.000 that same year.  In other words, it would take 3.7 years to break even.

A Toyota, in general, is great with respect to its operating costs, so I decided to write about Toyota cars from time to time even though I do not own one.

I have encountered tons of articles on the Prius, so I will do a comparison between the Toyota Corolla and the Toyota Prius ECO. In 2016, the cost of a Corolla was $18.000 and the Prius ECO was $25,500.  It would take me approximately 3.5 years to break even.

Now I look into the amount of time to break even on my personal car.  I will compare the Hyundai Sonata with the plug-in hybrid Sonata.    The cost in 2016 of a Sonata was $22,500.  The plug-in hybrid was listed at $35,500 in 2016.  If had purchased my plug-in hybrid Sonata in 2016, it would have taken me 6 years to break even.

You might be wondering why I have not been considering the cost of electricity to charge the above vehicles.  I was assuming that they were to be driven mostly in an urban setting.  Personally, I charge my plug-in hybrid daily, and the cost to charge for 10 miles a day seems to be around 50 cents a day. Sometimes, the average per day is less if I plug into one of the free charging stations that I have in my community.

Why are hybrid cars more economical?

I personally can see why my hybrid is more economical because I tend to stick around my community in a range where I can run my hybrid plug-in primarily on electricity, but what are some other keys factor to consider that are related to savings?

One aspect is that you will need to be using up gas while waiting in a traffic jam or a red stoplight at an intersection.  My sister is all about saving the environment and she likes to turn off her gas vehicle if she has to wait 30 more seconds while on the road.  The air around her car might be fresher, but as soon as she starts up her car again, the car will need a big boost of gas to get it going that might be even worse for the environment versus idling for a minute or two.

So, the fact that you are not wasting gas when your car is stationary is a good thing.

The other day, I was in a hot parking lot and I decided to call a friend of mine.  I turned on the air conditioner, but since I have a plug-in hybrid, the electric motor provided the power.  The combustion engine did not turn on.  I think that I have had on the air conditioner full blast, it might have kicked in, but luckily I just used up some of the electricity from the battery pack.

Besides saving on gas at the intersection, regenerative braking will  help to increase the length that you can travel as much as 30 percent (according to my personal tests, click here to see my results on my article on how a hybrid is able to charge its own battery)

Regenerative braking creates savings in the way of electricity for a hybrid.  Another economical reason to own a hybrid is that is costs less to maintain.  I hear people in the forums stating that it is a wash, you still need to maintain the gas engine.  This is true, but if you drive in such a way to maximize the use of your electric motor, the wear, and tear on the gas engine is going to be a lot less.

There are fewer vibrations when driving with the electric.  How do I know this? I noticed this once I started to drive my plug-in hybrid.  There are less moving parts in an electric motor.  Parts in the combustion motor in a hybrid are going to last longer and thus the maintenance costs will be minimized.

For instance, you will not need to change the oil as often, or the air filter.  Furthermore, when you are braking partially using regenerative braking, not only you generating electricity for the electric motor, but you are increasing the lifespan of your brake pads.

Saving on brake pads is something that you will read a lot about on different hybrid car forums.  Nevertheless, I found an interesting fact that makes my case stronger for the economic logic for purchasing a hybrid.  A gas engine is not terribly efficient.  Only about a quarter of the energy from gas is used to turn the wheels.  The rest of that energy disappears into the atmosphere, never to be used by your car.

Best Hybrid for the Money

Now that we have concluded that purchasing a hybrid is a good thing instead of polluting the environment and wasting extra money on gas, I will list my top 3 picks for 2019 based on financial appeal.

  1. My top pick for a hybrid is the Toyota Camry Hybrid. It costs as much as $32,825 but it is worth it.  It is very reliable, has a strong powertrain, lots of standard features and it even includes Apple CarPlay.  Something that I do not like about my Sonata Plug-in Hybrid is that it has a small trunk.  I can hardly fit my weekly groceries into it because some of the space has been used up by the battery pack for the electric motor.  Nevertheless, the Camry Hybrid surprisingly has a large trunk.
  2. My second pick is the 2019 Honda Hybrid.  This vehicle can run you as much as $34,990, which is just slightly more than the Camry.  It has 212 horsepower which is more than enough for a hybrid.  Its gas mileage is great, and the seats are comfortable.  It also has a large truck, but people have reported that the handling was below par.
  3. The 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is my third choice.  It has fared well in previous years on different sites and this is yet another stellar year for it.  It makes slightly less economic sense because of its high base price that is as much as $42,850.  However, it has 4 wheel drive and 215 horsepower.  It does have excellent mpg ratings and at the same time, it provides a super smooth ride.  I would overlook its flaws since they are so minor.  For instance, some buyers have complained that does not have enough power at times, especially when accelerating initially.  Due to its lack of large drawbacks, I feel that this hybrid is a great pick for those that are willing to pay the higher price tag.  Plus, it comes with a lot of extras giving you a good bang for the buck.

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