I will be upfront with you; we don’t own a hybrid car. This is mainly because of where we live, which is on a dirt road, surrounded by dirt roads, which get full of foot-deep mud and snow for 4 months out of the year. Were we still living in California, where weather changes amount to which way the single cloud is moving that day, our next car would have been a Prius, for sure. We could have bought an SUV hybrid (which is kind of any oxymoron if you ask me), but we don’t need an SUV and it would have been a waste of money. So instead we bought a Subaru Forester that gets 30MPG, which I am quite happy about. But I digress – let’s talk about hybrids.
Lately, because of the fall in gas prices, there have been several articles written about how the extra cost of hybrid vehicles is not worth it. For example, this article at Kiplingers says stuff like “savings at the pump rarely make up for the $3,000-plus hybrid premium”. This is exactly why NOT to buy a hybrid car. Sure, if gas prices are $5 a gallon, you might save money on gas. (Trust me, gas will be that high again – and soon) But most people who buy hybrids do not buy them because they can save money on gas; if that was the case, these same people would buy tiny little econoboxes that get 35-40 MPG and only cost $13,000, instead of the $22,000 for a Prius. Now THAT would amount to some serious savings! Rather, most people who buy hybrids do it for one of two reasons:
1. They want to do the right thing and use less gasoline and emit less pollution.
2. They want to scream out to the world that they are doing the right thing (OK, that one was a little snarky).
My reason for wanting to buy one, if we could, would be because I want to use less gasoline and pollute less. That’s all. I like saving money as much as the next guy, but I would not buy a $22,000 car in order to save money. It just makes no sense whatsoever. However, that being said, what if you bought one for one of the reasons listed above and gas prices went up to $5-$6 a gallon? Well, that would just be an added bonus for you! Hybrids also hold their value better than many cars (other than our Mini, which did really well), which adds to their long-term value.
But please, enough with the articles about how paying a premium for a hybrid just isn’t worth it because gasoline is cheap right now. If that is the only determining factor you use to make a car-buying decision, than sure – it’s a waste of money. Buy yourself a Hyundai for $13,000 and put the extra $9,000 in the bank. Most people who buy hybrid cars do it because they want to do the right thing – use less gas and emit less pollution. That’s all. If it was only about saving money, there are plenty of better options available.