Buying a Hybrid vehicle: More Hype than Practical?

Why the hybrid is a bad investment.

With the current gas prices and having to spend $60.00-$70.00 to fill up the gas tank of a family sedan would qualify as a good excuse to want a hybrid. The idea of a hybrid is somewhat too good to be true. You can help save the planet and at the same time save a bundle of money on your gas bill every month. With so many benefits, how can you not want a hybrid? If you are considering buying one, don’t rush to your local dealership just yet. Let’s take a closer look and go into some details about our hybrids.

I will be using the Toyota Camry as an example and using city mpg for comparison. I chose the Camry not to single out Toyota but because I see a lot of them on the streets. This is the cost for the regular and hybrid Camry and also the MPG of both models as stated by Toyota (city/freeway)

Toyota Camry 2.4L 4Cyl Sedan 21/31 mpg – $18,920 MSRP
Toyota Camry 2.4L 4Cyl Hybrid Sedan 33/34 mpg – $25,650 MSRP

Here is the economic estimation I came up with for the hybrid model vs. the regular model. The numbers used are unique for my situation. You can change the numbers to fit yours.

Make/Model—————Toyota Camry
City MPG——————-21
Miles per Year————-12,700
Gas per/gal—————–$4.49 (current price)
Gas spending/month——$226.28 (12.7k/12 = 1,058/21 = 50.38 x $4.49 = $226.28)

Make/Model—————Toyota Camry Hybrid
City MPG——————-33
Miles per Year————-12,700
Gas per/gal—————–$4.49 (current price)
Gas spending/month——$144.00 (12.7k/12 = 1,058/33 = 32.06 x $4.49 = $144.00)

Price difference between models: $6,730 ($25,650 – $18,920 = $6,730)
Savings per month with hybrid: $82.28 ($226.28 -$144.00 = $82.28)
Months take to recover from price difference: 81.79 months (6,730/82.28 = 81.79)

If you look at the numbers it will take you 81.79 months, that’s almost 7 years just to get back the extra money you spent buying the hybrid instead of the regular Camry. The high premium you pay for hybrids is not worth the minor fuel efficiency over the normal economy cars currently on the road. If you compare the freeway mpg for the regular Camry with the hybrid Camry they are practically the same. Of course hybrids are cleaner and make us feel good that we are protecting the environment but financially it doesn’t make sense.

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2 Responses to Buying a Hybrid vehicle: More Hype than Practical?

  1. Gasman July 19, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    Your logic has one major hole – you are assuming no change in gas prices over the next 81 months. Keep in mind that gas has gone from $1.50 to $4.50 in less than three years. What happens when prices go from $4.50 to $6.50 and beyond…? The numbers will shift favorably toward the more efficient vehicle.

  2. Long July 21, 2008 at 2:06 pm #


    You are absolutely right. What I forgot to mention in the post is that it is not practical financially to buy a hybrid at the current time. The gas price has recently sky rocketed. However, we can also assume that the prices can drop. If it does drop, it will take even longer to recoup the savings. Even if the price of gas does go up it will still take you years to recoup the savings. By the time you are able to recoup the price difference the technology of hybrids will be much more advance and the cost will be comparable to the gas models.

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