Home > Ask Gary > Ask Gary: Should I buy a Hybrid?

Ask Gary: Should I buy a Hybrid?

With gas prices on the rise again, lots of people are asking if they should switch to a hybrid vehicle.  People buy hybrids for lots of good reasons – like saving the environment and making fewer stops at the gas station — but saving money in the near term may not be one of them.

Our experience has shown that you need to consider the total ownership cost when comparing the purchase of a hybrid against a conventional, gas-powered vehicle.

It’s common knowledge that hybrid cars are more expensive than gas-powered cars, though that differential has narrowed recently.  So from a pure financial standpoint, you need to compare the fuel cost savings you will realize from driving a hybrid against the higher purchase price to determine how long it will take to “break-even.”

What many people fail to consider in this analysis, however, is that you will be paying close to sticker price for a hybrid.  These vehicles are more complex to make and are commanding a premium in the market, so there’s just less room for the dealer to negotiate.  At the same time, you may be able to purchase a gas-powered car at close to invoice.  This can increase the purchase price difference by thousands of dollars.

Add to that the fact that gas-powered cars are getting pretty good mileage these days and even with gas at $4 a gallon, it can take 5-7 years or more for the average driver racking up 12-15 thousand miles a year to make up the difference in purchase price between a hybrid and a gas-powered vehicle.  After that, you’re “saving” money.

So whether or not you should buy a hybrid depends on your driving style and what’s important to you.  Is reducing greenhouse gases from car exhaust a priority for you?  Do you want to cut your fuel costs today, and you’re willing to pay more up front to do so?  Or do you drive 30 or 40 thousand miles a year?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a hybrid vehicle may be a good choice.  If not, you may want to stick with a gas-powered vehicle.

Of course, all of this is hypothetical.  The best way to decide whether or not a hybrid is right for you is to drive one.  Here at Jaffarian, you can choose from a wide range of Toyota hybrids, including the market-leading Prius.  Then take a comparable gas-powered car out for similar test.  Compare how they “feel” to you and carefully assess how they meet your transportation needs.  Then we can help you work the numbers and make the choice that’s right for you.

– Gary

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