Are Hybrid Cars Worth It? The Pros & Cons of Sustainable Vehicle Ownership

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by Benjamin Yong

Right now, hybrids are enjoying an unprecedented popularity with almost every major automaker offering one or more examples. But even given its trendiness, consumers still often question the fiscal sense behind purchasing a hybrid car or SUV since the price point can be higher than a comparable gasoline-powered counterpart, which is why some people are turning to companies like Hire Brid to rent electric cars rather than buy them.

Vincentric, a company specializing in automotive ownership cost data, released a report in January comparing 29 MY2014 hybrids and non-hybrids and identified that while on average it costs $2,976 more to own an electric-assisted vehicle, seven on their list measured having a lower total cost of ownership. Before looking at the cars, lets talk about pricing.

Also see: Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Buyer’s Guide

Why do hybrid cars cost more than gas-powered vehicles?

A hybrid can be priced as much as 20 per cent more than one powered by a conventional gas engine. Part of the reason for the increased cost is the extra equipment required to build the vehicle, such as an electric motor and high-voltage battery pack. In a lot of cases, hybrids are bundled with higher-end features like power options and technology and safety add-ons that can further drive up the MSRP.

Obviously economics isn’t always the only thing to consider when thinking about alternative energy mobility, but it is almost certainly an important one.

“The higher market prices of hybrids cause several cost factors to increase including finance, opportunity costs, fees and taxes and depreciation. In some cases fuel cost savings can help offset these costs, but with fuel prices decreasing approximately 33% in the past six months, increased fuel efficiency alone is not always enough to keep hybrids competitive with their all-gas counterparts,” said Vincentric president David Wurster in a news release.

“However, with nearly a quarter of hybrids still offering cost advantages, it is important that consumers look at individual models to understand the cost implications of hybrid technology for that vehicle.”

How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

To understand the higher costs, it’s good to get a grasp of how these part electric, part fossil fuel-powered machines really work. The Union of Concerted Scientists put together a good breakdown here including main features and what differentiates hybrids from the pack, including electric vehicles (EVs).

What’s the Best Hybrid Car Right Now?

Here are some top money-saving, fuel-efficient models

To conduct the analysis ranking the below models, Vincentric weighed eight factors: depreciation, fees/taxes, financing, fuel (based on a national average of the previous five months), insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs. The data is based on an automobile that is driven 25,000 kilometres a year, for five years, and compared against either its identical gasoline sibling or the most similar alternative from the same brand. Here are the vehicles that will save you money in the long run.

• Lexus CT 200h (Savings: $11,535)

• Lincoln MKZ Hybrid ($4,074)

• Ford C-Max Hybrid ($3,441)

• Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($2,909)

• Lexus ES 300h ($1,418)

• Toyota Prius c ($609)

• Honda Accord Hybrid ($322)

Not everything is peachy though: according to the report, a 2014 BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid costs buyers over $16,844 more to own.