Hybrid Cars = Bad Investments

Consumer Affairs has a summary up on Consumer Reports’ latest article examining the cost benefits of hybrid electricity/gasoline cars.

Although the vehicles tended to score quite well on performance and fuel efficiency, the bad news is that the price premium on these vehicles is prohibitively high. Consumer Reports notes that after five years, the average owner of a hybrid has not recouped the premium on gasoline savings, and this holds true even if you push out the time line to ten years.

This was all based upon the forecast that US gas prices may very well rise to $3 and $4 a gallon… if the price of gasoline stays lower, it would be even longer. Which means that the only reason to own one of these cars right now is as a statement, either political, environmental or social, but certainly not for good consumer value. It appears the hybrid isn’t quite all the way there yet.

Link: Consumer Reports Sizes Up Hybrid Costs

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  1. Transuranic says:

    Stands to reason that any car based on gasoline prices is a bad investment, anyway. Are there reasons to think that the prices won’t rise that high? It’s such a polemic topic that no one seems to be able to suss out any unbiased answer.

    The recent issue of Make Magazine has a great guide to growing your own electric vehicle. Check it out.

    Disclaimer – Mr. Transuranic has not owned a car in ten lovely years. Walking & metro for local, car-sharing for suburbs, renting for roadtrips – very cheap. Fuck parking, tags, taxes, gas prices and all of it. Owning a car in any capacity, if you live in a city and work anywhere near a bus line (yes I know how few people this encompasses), is supremely inconvenient. But Americans are addicted, so no one notices.

    In the bumpersticker language of 1990s liberal rebels – kill your car!

  2. Andrew W says:

    I love the T (Boston’s subway). Yes, it breaks a lot in bad weather, and, yes, the street-car-style Green Line trains necessitate your being in someone’s armpit, but my life without a car in Boston is lovely. There are parks to walk through on the way to the T, skylines to consider–say, from the Longfellow Bridge–and a great number of attractive young people to steal glances at.

    Hybrid cars are an okay way to promote eco-friendliness, even if they don’t quite break even in the long run. Hopefully they’ll act as a little piece of persuasion to get others to better consider their choices when it comes to their personal impact on the environment.

    But how much can change until industry figures out how to power itself on something that doesn’t start as oil? Even if all Americans drove hybrids as their personal car, wouldn’t we still have factories, construction sites, tractor tailers, and company car fleets powered by traditional gas engines? That might be an even bigger mountain to climb.

  3. CTSLICK says:

    Prices on hybrid(and even alternative fuel)cars will remain elevated and therefore not cost effective until the major players devote their considerable resources to making them widely available mainstream commodities. Right now they are a status symbol to those who can afford to make a statement and carry a price tag to match. Its calculated marketing introducing them in this semi-exclusive one-off manner and the major players will not change their ways until the buzz dies down at this price point…or until the goverment makes them (maybe the next administration but not this one).

  4. Papercutninja says:

    I don’t think its about saving money, as it’s about less pollution. Idealistic, i know, but if EVERYONE drove a hybrid, the pollution created by cars could be cut 30%. it’s a start for technology that will help us be less dependent on foreign oil. Also, less money going to greedy oil companies and terrorist nations equals much more gooder.

  5. lgf says:

    This post is absolutely correct. We bought a Civic Hybrid last year, with the knowledge that we were NOT going to save any money at all on gas, but to make an environmental statement. Well, mostly my husband, he’s the idealistic one. I just love Hondas.

  6. TedSez says:

    Where is it written that buying a hybrid is only worthwhile if it ends up costing exactly the same as the regular model? Hybrids have lots of added value apart from the environmental factor — they’re quiet, they’re cool, they’re a new technology that’s fun to play with. Heck, in some circles (just like reading Gawker!) they might get you laid. The question isn’t whether it’s okay that they cost more, but how much more you’re willing to pay.

  7. GenXCub says:

    While I do think the entire reason for the purchase is to be more green, less carbon-footprint-y, and to show others you care more about the environment than they do, there’s supposed to be a certain element that doing so is at least close to the cost of a gas-guzzling globe-warmer. The whole point of eco-friendly technology is that it is a viable replacement for what’s on the market. If that wasn’t an issue, we’d have been 100% solar by now.

  8. Bubba Barney says:

    I’m with Transuranic and Andrew W. I haven’t owned a car since 1997 and love it! I rent a car if I need to go somewhere really far, for about $20 bucks a day with unlimited miles, thanks to a company discount.

    Though the weather sometimes sucks, I like the thought of being out in Nature rather than stuck in car looking at the back of another car as I sit in rush hour and go nowhere.

    I have kind of become a Public Transportation snob. Seeing someone drive a Hummer make me steamed.

  9. rossdale says:

    Hybrid shoppers is more concerned about the environment than they were about saving money according to the car bulletin,,so not considering that in the long run they’ll spend equal money compared to an ordinary car,,at least they contributed to saving the nature..