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Do hybrids really save money?

Only about one in three saves customers money according to a recent U.S. study

Published: November 3, 2014, 4:50 AM
Updated: December 3, 2015, 8:56 PM

2014 Lexus CT 200h - 2014 Lexus CT 200h Hybrid

According to a study recently released by Vincentric, a U.S.-based company that specializes in analyzing cost-of-ownership data for vehicles, only 10 of 31 hybrids analyzed were found to have a lower total cost-of-ownership than their closest gasoline-only counterparts.

Over the past three years, the company says, the percentage of cost-effective hybrids has dropped from 44% in 2012, to 39% in 2013, to just over 32% now.
When the costs to own and operate all 31 model-year 2014 hybrid vehicles were taken analyzed, the average five-year cost-of-ownership was $1,334 more than their gasoline-only counterparts. (All cost figures in $US.)

“In some cases, fuel cost savings associated with hybrid vehicles are able to offset their price premium," said David Wurster, Vincentric's president.

"However, hybrids are losing their competitive edge due to the improved fuel economy of gas-powered combustion engines and falling fuel prices,” he added.

The average price premium for a hybrid was $4,325, with an average fuel cost savings of $3,001.

Total cost-of-ownership was calculated using eight different cost factors: depreciation, fees & taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost, and repairs.

The analysis assumed vehicle ownership of five years and 24,000 km (15,000 miles) of driving annually.

The 10 hybrids that did achieve lower ownership costs, in descending order of estimated savings were:

2014 Lexus CT 200h ($7,632)
2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid ($3,356)
2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid ($3,252)
2014 Audi Q5 Hybrid ($2,611)
2014 Acura ILX Hybrid ($1,613)
2014 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($1,379)
2014 Lexus ES 300h ($1,179)
2014 Toyota Camry 2014.5 Hybrid ($1,075)
2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid ($191)
2014 Honda Insight ($86)

“Consumers must look at individual models to determine whether a hybrid or its gas-powered counterpart has lower ownership costs and will save them money in the long run,” Wurster advised.

The Vincentric calculations for all 31 models, in alphabetical order, are listed below.

Passenger Cars

Make Model Hybrid Price Premium  Hybrid Fuel Cost Savings  Hybrid Total Cost of Ownership Savings
Acura ILX Hybrid  $   1,334  $   3,132  $     1,613
BMW 3-Series Hybrid  $   4,451  $   1,092  $   (3,573)
BMW 5-Series Hybrid  $   6,007  $   1,149  $   (4,982)
BMW 7-Series Hybrid  $   6,848  $   1,424  $   (4,558)
Ford C-Max Hybrid  $   3,820  $   2,101  $      (788)
Ford Fusion Hybrid  $   6,805  $   4,265  $   (2,444)
Honda Civic Hybrid  $   3,837  $   2,254  $   (1,324)
Honda CR-Z  $   2,298  $      883  $   (4,057)
Honda Insight  $      294  $   1,799  $         86
Honda Accord Hybrid  $   7,180  $   3,430  $   (2,680)
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid  $   1,636  $   2,672  $     1,379
Infiniti Q50 Hybrid  $   4,138  $   3,683  $   (2,675)
Infiniti Q70 Hybrid  $   5,695  $   4,993  $   (2,392)
Kia Optima Hybrid  $   4,314  $   3,070  $   (2,154)
Lexus CT 200h  $  (3,153)  $   6,185  $     7,632
Lexus ES 300h  $   3,063  $   4,455  $     1,179
Lexus GS 450h  $ 11,854  $   4,087  $   (8,155)
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid  $      485  $   3,468  $     3,252
Mercedes-Benz E Class Hybrid  $   4,510  $   1,042  $   (4,646)
Toyota Camry 2014.5 Hybrid  $   3,019  $   3,043  $     1,075
Toyota Camry Hybrid  $   5,360  $   3,043  $   (1,198)
Toyota Avalon Hybrid  $   2,272  $   4,455  $     3,356
Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid  $   6,699  $   2,806  $   (2,531)

Sport Utility/Crossover Vehicles

Make Model Hybrid Price Premium  Hybrid Fuel Cost Savings Hybrid Total Cost of Ownership Savings
Audi Q5 Hybrid  $    (295)  $   3,169  $     2,611
Infiniti QX60 Hybrid  $   3,905  $   3,529  $        191
Lexus RX 450h  $   7,954  $   3,431  $   (3,988)
Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid  $   2,618  $   1,948  $      (221)
Porsche Cayenne Hybrid  $   6,575  $   2,736  $   (3,185)
Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid  $   2,944  $      876  $      (999)
Toyota Highlander Hybrid  $   5,956  $   3,716  $   (3,093)
Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid  $ 11,661  $   1,807  $   (7,538)