Thursday, July 23, 2009

WHY Do You Want a Hybrid?

To be GREEN and save money, right? WRONG.

Earlier this week, Jalopnik reported that Honda was rushing a mid-model refresh of the 2010 Insight to make it more competitive with the Toyota Prius. So I took some time to dig a little deeper.

Turns out that you'd be FAR better off buying a USED Civic than either a NEW Prius or Insight. If you're a typical driver slogging out 15,000 miles a year, you can save more than $5,500 by buying a Civic. Despite promises of efficiency, it will end up costing you nearly 40% MORE to own a nifty hybrid.

Take a look at the spreadsheet below where I've laid out the essential specs:

Here's more food for thought.

The used Civic in the example above is more fun to drive than either Hybrid. For one thing, you can find it in a manual transmission. It's also lighter AND more powerful than the hybrid wonder duo.

Not only is it more FUN and will cost you LESS, you'll also be utilizing something that has already been produced. The dirty, inconvenient truth is that manufacturing a typical new vehicle takes enormous amounts of energy and natural resources. Production of the batteries and other components of hybrid drive systems add even more. A used vehicle has already been produced. Buying a used car means one less new car on the roads.

What about reliability and maintenance costs?

Are you serious? Honda Civics are so reliable that some enthusiasts actually avoid them. They're boring because they hardly ever break down. Even so, in the spreadsheet above, I added in a huge amount for potential maintenance on the Civic. I also used the Blue Book price, and if you can't find a price below blue book, you're not even trying.

If you want to be GREEN, skip the hybrid and buy a used car. Want to see how much GREEN you'd save? Download the spreadsheet and try your own scenario.


Jose said...

Hmmm.I don't think its a valid comparison for a few reasons. Why don't you compare it to a used 2005 prius? Yes, it'll be tougher to find cuz its a smaller market, but the prius has been out since 2001. Secondly, the (2004 and later) prius is a midsize sedan with the interior room of a camry. So perhaps a more valid comparison would be 2005 camry vs 2005 prius. Thirdly, its not all about the mpg's, baby. In fact, what's truly impressive bout the prius is the really really low emissions; 90% less than a regular car. Sure that doesn't directly affect my pocketbook, but someone's gotta pay eventually for all the dirty air. My two cents.

Osman said...

Good points. I would need to know the maintenance costs of a used hybrid, something that is a big question mark at the moment.

Also, what's the ecological footprint of battery manufacturing? How much carbon is emitted to pump out a new battery pack?

Jose said...

Here are a couple points I from a post I did last year about the prius as far maintenance and battery questions: