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Guess What: Hybrid Cars Don't Really Save You That Much Money


"...but driving a hybrid just felt right."

Remember when The Blaze published an article titled “Seven Reasons Why Buying an Electric Car Might Be a Terrible Idea” (via Business Insider)? The whole point of the article was to illustrate how -- financially speaking -- buying an electric vehicle was a bad, bad decision.

Well, it looks like the idea is starting to catch on.

“A TrueCar.com study…shows that, except in three cases, fuel-efficient technology is so expensive that these types of cars take years to pay off at today's gas prices -- and that remains true even if gas were to hit $5 per gallon,” writes Evann Gastaldo of Newser.

Interestingly enough, the study was commissioned by the New York Times.

“In some cases, the average driver would take more than a decade to see savings over comparable conventional vehicles, which is a problem since the average person owns a car just six years [emphasis added],” Gastoldo writes. “Most fuel-efficient cars will be more expensive to purchase and to drive for five years, at minimum.”

That seems to destroy one of the main reasons anyone would ever buy a hybrid.

In fact, “Gas would have to approach $8 a gallon before many of the cars could be expected to pay off in the six years an average person owns a car [emphasis added],” according to the New York Times.

Wait, gas would have to be $8 per gallon? Well, in that case, with gas prices rising as they are, maybe hybrids aren't such a bad idea after all.

Of course, the NYT study doesn’t implicate all hybrids. As with every rule, there are exceptions (via Nashville Business Journal):

A few vehicles begin paying off relatively soon after leaving the dealership. Two hybrids— Toyota's Prius ($23,537) and Lincoln's MKZ ($33,887)— as well as Volkswagen's diesel-powered Jetta TDI ($25,242) all take less than two years before they start saving their owners money.

Still, this begs the obvious question: Why do some drivers pay more for a fuel-efficient vehicle that could take decades to produce savings?

Well, other than a total failure to understand basic math, there are the social reasons.

“Others clearly view saving fuel and doing something better for the environment as their ultimate goals, regardless of cost,” the NYT reports. “The Prius, for example, became a success in part because drivers wanted to drive — and be seen driving — a hybrid.”

Simply put, some people are dishing out extra because they think they're saving the world.

Ed Moran, a horticulturist, bought a new Toyota Prius even though he knew his fuel savings would negated by his new monthly loan payment.

“…[B]ut driving a hybrid just felt right,” the NYT writes.

“I thought, ‘I try to save plants every day, so why am I not doing my part?’” Moran said.

And apparently, there’s another reason why someone would be willing got pay more for a fuel-efficient car that isn't really efficient.

“Fuel economy has become a social attribute,” Tom Turrentine, an anthropologist at the University of California, Davis, who has studied car buying habits and is the director of the university’s Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center (yes, that’s a real thing), told the NYT.

“People want to have good fuel economy because if they have poor fuel economy they might look stupid,” he added.

Click here to the NYT’s read the full report / Click here to see the chart that explains how many years it would take to break even.

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