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How Much Does a Hybrid Really Save You?

Is a hybrid car worth it?

In theory, the idea of purchasing a hybrid sounds great—they are known to be fuel efficient vehicles that benefit the environment, and that's why more and more people here in Sacramento, CA are purchasing hybrids for those very same reasons. Hybrid vehicles combine the benefits of a gasoline engine and an electric motor, which saves car owners money when powering their vehicles and reportedly cuts emissions by 25 to 35 percent.

Most hybrids are more economical than the comparable non-hybrid version when it comes to fueling up, but usually costs several thousands of dollars more to purchase. The question we wanted to find out here at Shanahan's Auto Body & Paint was this—do hybrids really pay off over time?

The United States Department of Energy recently produced a very handy table that is included on its website www.fueleconomy.gov. It shows a selection of hybrid vehicles and the non-hybrid version of the same car with similar equipment. It compares their EPA combined miles per gallon (MPG), the price difference to purchase the car, the amount you will save in fuel with the hybrid, and the number of years it will take for those savings to exceed the cost of buying the hybrid version. Will a hybrid save you money in the long run?

The figures shown are based on driving 15,000 miles a year, 55 percent in the city and 45 percent on the highway, and paying $2.25 per gallon for regular gasoline and $2.72 per gallon for premium.

The table will give you a really good idea of the hybrid that will pay off the quickest.

For a few of the models, like the 2016 Buick LaCrosse, there is no difference in price between the hybrid and non-hybrid models and you’ll save about $370 per year in fuel costs.

However, many of the vehicles will take several years to pay themselves back. For example, the 2016 Lexus ES, which I happen to own, will take 5.2 years to pay back the MSRP difference of $2,920. The good news is the annual gasoline savings of $562 and that the car will travel 40 MPG, compared to the non-hybrid model which is just 24 MPG. That means there are less trips to fill up the car.

The bottom line is to take the time to do your research. Not all hybrids are created equally and just because the vehicle is a hybrid, doesn’t mean it is necessarily as fuel efficient as you might expect.

Sources: US Dept. of Energy, EPA and Wikipedia

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