Thursday, November 17, 2005

Does Ecology Trump Economy?

Over at OmniNerd, there is a really good article on whether or not there is an economic savings to owning a hybrid vehicle. It turns out, if all you are interested in is saving money, an economy car like a Corolla is likely better. Even though you save money on gas per month, this is more than offset by the premium you are paying for the hybrid technology. If you assume 15,000 miles per year, then you can get the number of gallons of gas you would use. So, a Prius has an average mpg of 55 and a Corolla has 36. So, you are buying 273 gallons of gas per year with the Prius and 417 with the Corolla. This is actually plotted on the site for a range of gas prices from $2.50 per gallon up to $10. As you can see, if we climb back to the high watermark of $3 per gallon, you are saving less than $1000 a year. It would take you around 10 years to catch up to the difference in the sticker price. Possibly more when you consider that there are never dealer incentives to move the hybrids as they are on back order. I guess it comes down to your goal. Are you trying to save money, gas, or some combination of the two? A Corolla or a Scion xA seems like a good compromise. While mid 30s in gas mileage is not great, you are still decreasing your consumption. Mind you, I'm still probably going to get an Insight or maybe a scooter. For those advocating diesel, that's not yet and option for cars here in CA. We don't have low sulfur diesel yet and without it, cars can't meet the emission requirements necessary to be sold in CA.