Monday, June 9, 2008

To Hybrid, or Not To Hybrid?

Alright, I guess I haven't quite gotten this whole rising price of gasoline madness out of my system yet. And with prices in my neck of the woods this weekend hovering around $4.45 a gallon for regular unleaded, how could I? Like many of you, I imagine, there's been talk around this Mama's house of switching out the thirsty beast in the driveway for one of the fancy new hybrids on the market.

But does it really make good financial sense?

This new article in U.S. News & World Report does the math for the rest of us. You might be surprised at how little money you actually save with some of the models. And because the hybrids generally cost more than their gas-only counterparts, you won't believe how long it will take you to make back by saving at the pump the extra cash you shell out up front for these hybrids. The Chevy Tahoe hybrid, selling for almost $15,000 more than its gas-guzzling twin, will take 16.9 years to pay for itself in gas savings! (Also of note, the Chevy Tahoe hybrid will only get you 21 mpg, which is what I am currently getting on my gas-only family car. So "hybrid" is not always synonymous with "most efficient.") Even the Toyota Highlander hybrid, selling at about $6000 more than its gas-only counterpart, will still take more than 10 years to pay off that debt in gasoline savings. The Honda Civic hybrid will take more than 12 years to pay the difference in price with the money you save at the pump!

Now, saving money on gas is not the only reason people are buying hybrids these days. And Mamas I'd never say that polluting less is a bad idea. But for many who are eyeing these cars as a way to fatten the bottom line, the math just doesn't seem to make sense.

Looks like walking, running, biking, car-pooling, mass transit riding and scootering are still our best bets to save money and live a little bit greener.

No comments: