While 48 mpg may be nice, hybrids don't add up right now

Discussion in 'Toyota Prius Family' started by Right Lane Cruiser, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Hybrid sales plunged 43 percent in December and 50 percent in November.

    [xfloat=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2010_Prius-III_Drivers_Side_Front_Headline_Pic.jpg[/xfloat]Dan Strumpf – courierpress – Jan. 23, 2009

    How many people actually believe fuel costs won't go back up?? --Ed.

    Last summer was a good time to be in the hybrid business. Gas prices climbed to new records, and Toyota couldn't make its Prius fast enough as drivers turned their heads with envy at the sight of the gas-sipper's eye-catching sloping roofline.

    Just a few months later, pump prices have collapsed, and so too have sales of gas-electric vehicles, which have lost ground along the way to cheaper but still fuel-efficient conventional vehicles.

    Paying thousands of extra dollars for a hybrid car when gas topped $4 a gallon wasn't unreasonable because with enough driving, it only took a few years to recoup the added cost. But with the economy mired in a recession and fuel prices at their lowest in six years, pinched consumers seem less willing to fork over the extra thousands of dollars for a car that coaxes just a few extra miles out of a gallon of gas.

    At this point, buying a hybrid makes as much economic sense as buying a gas-guzzling SUV did last summer.

    "The cost-benefit analysis doesn't support the decision to buy one of these higher-priced hybrids today," said Stephen Spivey, senior auto analyst for the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

    "Obviously, if fuel prices go back up, it's going to be more attractive to look at a hybrid."

    Automakers are counting on just that. Toyota Motor Corp. earlier this month unveiled its Lexus HS250h hybrid sedan and redesigned 2010... [rm]http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/jan/23/do-the-math/[/rm]
  2. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    too bad they don't make glasses for short sighted sheeple.
  3. jsmithy

    jsmithy Well-Known Member

    They'll change their minds and start whining again once prices eventually rise.
  4. chibougamoo

    chibougamoo Well-Known Member

    I dunno, encouraging anyone to take on another 20k plus of debt load to get into a new Hybrid is a tough sell in these uncertain economic times. In a recession, cash is King, and it makes much better sense to buy a used smaller car, and bank the difference as a "wait and see" until we get better times (probably LATE in 2009).

    And by then we may have a LOT more options to choose from (thinking PHEV or BEV). The Poulsen Hybrid idea is attractive too, at a projected $5k (clamps two pancake motors on the outside of the rear wheels, and creates a kind of PHEV. But it looks like Poulsen has gone into hybernation mode until the gas prices start to go back up, for the moment).
  5. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    How does $750 cash back on the Prius change things?

    If you're comparing new hybrids to used economy cars, the used car will win hands down. This is especially true if the used car is paid off. Any new car would have to make about 500 mpg to match my old Civic financially. However, comparing new cars to new hybrid cars is a different picture. If you're buying a new car anyway, it's worth doing the math.
  6. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Bingo. This is the argument I keep making to people. It is in the same category as luxury features -- if you are going to spend the money anyway... why not?
  7. hchIIluv

    hchIIluv Member

    Hello all

    I've been trolling for a very long time. I have a 2007 HCHII and love it. The whole idea is to use the as little oil as you can. I went from 1990 300e at 20mpgs using premium on a good day, to 47 on any given day. I was going to be buying a new car and getting a loan. I had a price I was willing to pay for any car. I decided that it was better to get a high mpg car for x, then a lower mpg for the same x amount. By the way the money I saved on the gas at the higher amount this last year alone paid for the extra amount I paid for the Hybrid-ness of my purchase. Between the gas savings and the mileage allowance, the car does not cost me any money other than insurance. It was the best decision I have made on a car purchase. My other car is a 2006 jetta tdi and I feel that it was a great purchase also compared to what the TDI replaced.

  8. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Welcome to CleanMPG!
  9. WoodyWoodchuck

    WoodyWoodchuck Sophomore Hypermiler

    I bought the Yaris in July and would have loved to get into a Prius or other hybrid. Bottom line was even with $4.00 a gallon gas I simply could not afford the monthly payments of the hybrid.

    I did need a new, well a different and reliable, vehicle for commuting. Newer model used fuel efficient cars were selling for $10,000 and had 70,000 or more miles on them. The ones selling for less would put me back in the original place with a used vehicle that might/might not need repairs or get me to work. With a bottom line of $14,500 out the door the Yaris was a bit more than I really could afford but I could not afford not to do it. Electric windows and all that would have been nice too but unaffordable. Besides, the car is lighter w/out all that luxury junk! I am losing weight by eating more rice and ramen noodles and I have more time for gardening without cable TV. But I also won’t need that new 52” LCD anymore. :(

    So what made me buy a fuel efficient straight gas job over a hybrid? My budget. True, the cost/benefit of a hybrid over the Yaris would save me in the long run, but I need to be able to make the payments until that payback time comes around. So the Yaris will get me into a 10 year plan at which time some other alternative energy vehicle will be available. Or the home conversion kits will be affordable enough for me to convert to electric or the 1.3 liter engine will be available in the US for me to drop in.
  10. Elixer

    Elixer Well-Known Member

    I view the Prius as the luxury hybrid, as the new Honda Insight is coming out and the base model is under $20k. If we all bought cars purely on economics we'd all be driving around Toyota Yarises and complaining about them not offering a smaller cheaper engine. When you buy a car from an environmental standpoint you have to think about it's lifetime effect. I think most people see a car as a 5+ year investment, which is why you have to think about what the cost of gas will be in 5 years.
  11. hchIIluv

    hchIIluv Member


    I can not agree with you more.. I could afford hybrid so that is what I went for. I also needed a car that was urber reliable. If I felt that my 1990 300 e with 285,000 was still going to be that car I would have kept it, by the way I put 210,000 of those miles in 6.5 years. If I could only afford a non-hybrid, like you I would have still gone with the best mpg's I could afford. Yaris is a great choice.

  12. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    welcome, brian. thanks for un-lurking!
  13. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Not everything in life comes down to dollars and cents. If it did we'd be a sorry bunch ;)

    Even with tax breaks at time of purchase, I doubt we've broke even on our Civic Hybrid, to date, with our relatively low mileage (though it's likely getting close). I don't really care, as long as the premium is not insane:

    A better bottom line was not our only reason for getting a hybrid. By far, our prime motivation was enthusiasm and interest in the new technology.

    The sun doesn't rise and set on the dollar.
  14. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    $$ AND CENTS a $23000 Prius still makes sense when compared to a $19000 Matrix-the car it is most comparable to. The payback-ignoring resale,insurance etc- is about 130,000 miles if you assume $2 gas and about 15 mpg difference.

    Most folks probably plan to keep their next car for a lot of miles, and most folks probably figure we won't have $2 gas for the next 13 years. I would bet we will have $3 gas with $100 oil in less than 3 years.The folks who drove up the fuel prices know that a good economy can support $125 oil. I suspect that the rapid run up to $145 oil had a lot to do with this recession, but... I don't see any talking heads saying to same,so maybe I'm wrong-who knows?

  15. pdk

    pdk Beacon of Sanity

    Remember the resale for hybrids under $4/gal gas? That would take a nice big chunk out of the premium.
  16. flatty

    flatty Member

    Woody, you're pretty good with math.

    You're saving $4,500 over 5 years with today's gas and $3,600 at $4 gas over a Prius, which is almost a 1/3 the new value of your Yaris.

    The resale on 5 year old Prius is now in line with a regular Honda product (~56%); the Yaris might be a bit lower, but same was used below. See ebay's Completed and Buy it Now prices, if you doubt (KBB is not very good).

    Woody Wagon vs Pete Mobile

    $1.85 Gas (Today)
    ------------ Price ----- MPG - CPM ---- Fuel/Yr -- Save/Yr----- Premium -- Payback --- 5Yr Fuel -- Resale --Total 5 Yr
    Prius II....$23,500..... 57.4... $0.03.....$483............................................................ $2,417 ... $13,043...$12,875
    Yaris.......$14,500..... 43.7 .. $0.04.....$685....... ($152)........$(9,000)........ 59.4........ $3,175 ..... $8,048.... $8,328

    $4.00 Gas
    ------------ Price ----- MPG - CPM ---- Fuel/Yr -- Save/Yr----- Premium -- Payback --- 5Yr Fuel -- Resale --Total 5 Yr
    Prius II....$23,500..... 57.4 .. $0.07.....$1,045.......................................................... $5,226 ... $13,043...$15,684
    Yaris.......$14,500...... 43.7 .. $0.09.....$1,373..... ($328)........$(9,000)........ 27.5....... $6,865 ..... $8,048...$12,017

    Certainly, they are different class vehicles - the 'premium' above is a 'class' + hybrid premium, but if you're comparing basic transportation under tight financial conditions, there is a tough reality here.

    RLC has it right, hybrid is really a luxury of sorts.

    - Charlie
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  17. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Unfortunately, hybrids are like solar panels on houses. Their payback is so far down the line towards the life expectancy of the car, it's a gamble whether you'll ever see that payback. When we bought my wife's car last summer, when gas was nearly $4/gallon, I figured we could drive her Elantra for 12 years just on the price difference between a new Prius and the used Elantra. If we needed to buy new HV batteries in a dozen years, we could drive the Elantra another 5 years. All that before the Prius' better mileage even started to make up the difference. Right now, with gas under $2/gallon, a hybrid's payback is 20 years down the road, before considering battery replacement, and how many of us are driving 20 year old cars?
  18. peacefrog_0521

    peacefrog_0521 Raj Against The Machine

    The key here is the Cost Per Mile (CPM) comparison; note that there is very little difference between the car at 44 mpg vs. 57 mpg. Even with a 13 MPG difference (basically, the equivalent of a Hummer or full-size SUV!), you still only save a penny per mile with the hybrid. That's because the curve for cost savings decreases exponentially with increasing MPG.

    I'm not able to post a chart here, but if you use Excel and make a columns of ascending MPG figures in one column, and the formula of gas price divided by MPG in the second column, with price as constant (use $4 per gallon), and then plot the curve, you'll see this.

    The guy who went from a 190E at 20 MPG to a an HCH-II at 47 MPG made out like a bandit, because the CPM took such a big drop. But even if he'd gone from a 190E to, say, a regular Civic or Accord 4 cyl getting 30+ MPG would have noticed a significant savings. I experienced exactly the same going from a 20 MPG Tribute SUV to a 32 MPG Elantra hatchback, cutting my fuel costs by at least 33%, with less frequent stops at the pump.

    But after about 30 MPG, the curve seems to flatten out.
    So not only does it not seems to make _economic_ sense to buy a hybrid over an already-efficient car, it also doesn't make sense to settle for a skimpy subcompact with less comfort and convenience features, just for a few more MPG.
  19. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    Yo, 22+ years. Spouse too, 20 years.

    To be fair, mine has never been an only car. If it had, it probably would have been retired at about 15 years. We also share a "new" car of merely 12 years.

    The more $2 gas we buy now, the sooner it can get back up to $4 or more. I want to scrap that 22 year old Honda just after the first adopters get their new 2010 hybrids. By meeting California's 2020 fuel economy goals a decade early, I'll do my part to reduce the inevitable upward price pressure on fuel.
  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Flatty:

    ___The Yaris and Fit are two of the least TCO based vehicles available. A problem however is they are B-Class sized Subs vs. D-Class sized Mid-sized Prius-II. As the American consumer speaks with his or her wallet, together Yaris and Fit do not reach the sales of the Prius.

    ___If you want to also compare, you laid out a Yaris at 43 mpg which is a 37 mpgUS combined vehicle on the 07 and prior EPA and a 32 mpgUS on the 08. And the Prius only 57 whereas it is worth 55 mpgUS on the 07 and prior EPA and 46 on the current.

    ___Another item you left out is a used Prius-II at $4.00 per or more gas is worth more than $13K with 75,000 on it. The Yaris is not worth anywhere near $8K with 75K miles as you can pick them up right now for under $11K brand new.

    ___Which would you rather drive for 75,000 miles? A Yaris, Fit or Prius knowing thee TCO will be ~ equal on the back end?

    ___And then a battery replacement? Who keeps bringing this up? There is many Prius’ over 150K and nobody is replacing battery packs on the Gen-II’s.

    ___Good Luck


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