Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hybrid as a sound investment

So I've had Wentworth for a solid six months, and financially, I could not be happier. The car is actually worth more by several thousand dollars than when I purchased it thanks to rising gas prices, even though I've driven it 7,000 miles. Everything's running smoothly, no costs in terms of repairs, and about $20 spent on changing the oil myself. Now here's the really cool part:

I've saved $857 in the last six months on gas alone. Check out the spreadsheet (edit: note that as of publishing I had saved $857. This spreadsheet will automatically update to provide the most recent figures).

There's a notable increase in gas savings the higher the cost of a gallon of gas, check it out in the last three months of the spreadsheet when prices skyrocketed.

And this is where I'd like to address a classic hybrid concern...

"But Mike, your battery is old technology, and will last a couple years at most. I hear it costs $5000 to replace, so your savings mean nothing."

This is adorable and all, the problem is that you might've heard that on TV somewhere by a talking head, and it is wholly untrue. Naturally, the fear of high costs and pricey repairs stick well with the public, but in reality, if it even does ever fail, the Prius hybrid battery typically lasts north of 150,000 miles. Recent failures I've read about on PriusChat have been closer to 200k miles, and a Vancouver taxi reported replacing theirs at 300,000 miles. So driving 15,000 miles a year, I'm really not concerned about a possible repair seven or eight years from now.

Even if there is early failure, reported prices at PriusChat for a refurbished battery shipped and installed come in under $2000. With literally millions of Prii on the road today as hybrids settle more into the mainstream, this price has nowhere to go but down. If this happens at 200k miles, you're paying a penny a mile. Hardly a concern, especially given I'll save that much in gas money after about 14 months of ownership.

Stop worrying about the battery, everyone - remember, your single biggest cost when owning a vehicle is gas, pure and simple. If you keep a vehicle for a reasonable life, it's quite possible you'll pay more in gas than what you paid for the car over that period of time.


  1. It's worth noting that gas prices are ONLY going to go up while battery technology is getting a huge injection of funding and research (battery replacements are likely to DROP over the life span of the car... hopefully by an order of magnitude). Alternative energy sources are also getting tons of funding too, but even if your home's power is supplied by a coal power plant (likely) they're still extremely efficient compared to a car engine.

    I also don't know what tax incentives there are for owning a hybrid but that's a factor.

    I think of the fear mongering less as talking heads and much more the result of a powerful oil and automotive lobby that likes things exactly as they were 5 years ago. Electric vehicles take a lot of power away from oil companies and give it back to the consumers (of course, you already know that). Consumers with power? What a horrible development.

  2. There are fewer tax incentives these days for normal hybrids but new ones funneled toward purchasing electric cars. The Prius Plug-In next year will benefit from that - despite (again) the media/anti-hybrid predictions of a $40k Prius, Toyota has clearly said they're trying to price it similarly to the standard Prius to promote sales, but enhanced by government incentives it will be even more attractive, and are currently planning to have all Prii be plug-in by 2014.

    Very true about oil/automotive lobby. Something like the Prius really is their worst enemy. It's reliable, uses way less gas, lasts a long time (no new car sales), requires R&D instead of mindlessly reproducing the same junk cars over and over, and even from a government perspective, contributes far less in road tax than any other vehicle.

    It's bizarre, since the consumer seems to be the only one coming out on top.