New EPA Website Gives Hybrid 'Payback' Info
Site quickly compares long-term fuel savings between hybrid and nonhybrid models.
Although there are many different options when considering gas-sipping vehicles, hybrids have won the hearts and minds of many fuel-frugal car shoppers. And add "hard-earned money" to "hearts and minds," because hybrids are priced at a premium compared with their gas-powered counterparts -- and the "break-even" point, at which impressive fuel economy offsets the high purchase price, can stretch to years.
Now consumers have a way to calculate how long they'll need to own a hybrid before they recoup the vehicle's higher sale price at the pump. The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled a new website, Hybrids Can Save You Money, which estimates the payback period for hybrids versus cheaper gasoline models. (The site isn't perfect. Its calculations consider only fuel costs and the manufacturer's suggested retail price, not to mention that the selection of hybrids is limited to 18 models from the 2012 and 2013 model years.)
The calculator automatically pairs each hybrid with the nonhybrid version of the same vehicle, or a similar model from the same manufacturer. For example, pick the 2012 Prius c hybrid and it’s compared with the 2012 Toyota Yaris. Or plug in the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid and it’s matched with the nonhybrid Escalade. Users can then adjust a slider to indicate annual miles driven and input numbers for the percentage of city miles driven and local fuel costs per gallon of regular gasoline.
The comparison between the hybrid and nonhybrid is shown, along with the MSRP and combined fuel economy of the two vehicles. Below this you get The Bottom Line: how much more out of pocket you have to spend to get the hybrid as well as weekly, monthly and yearly fuel savings and the time in years of the payback period.
The site calculations don’t take into consideration other factors that affect the overall cost to own, such as insurance, maintenance, manufacturer incentives and resale value. Several sites are more comprehensive, such as Kiplinger’s Green Car Calculator, which include more models, and HybridCars.com Gas Calculator, which adds emissions information.
But if you’re looking for a quick comparison while on a car lot, the EPA’s site is easy to use. So those in the hunt for a new car may want to bookmark it on a mobile browser.
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