Ready for a hybrid yet?

Now that gasoline costs upwards of $4, buying a hybrid automobile–which typically costs around $3000 more than the all-gasoline model–makes economic sense. But you would need to keep your Prius for three and a half years to recoup that extra money. There are now many hybrid models from a wide range of manufacturers. The Wall Street Journal has a useful article comparing them, including the chart below. I am astonished, though, to see how little improvement there is in gas mileage from a normal car, except for the Prius and the Civic. Do any of your drive hybrids? Are they worth it?

hybrid chart

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com bror erickson

    I just took our Prius from Salt lake to the o.c. I don’t know what they mean by this break even bit. Frankly we ares saving about 14,000 dollars a year on my wifes commute alone, and that with gas at 3 dollars. But it wasn’t that much more compared to other vehicles in it’s class. One could buy a much more expensive car, with a ot less gas mileage.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.com bror erickson

    I just took our Prius from Salt lake to the o.c. I don’t know what they mean by this break even bit. Frankly we ares saving about 14,000 dollars a year on my wifes commute alone, and that with gas at 3 dollars. But it wasn’t that much more compared to other vehicles in it’s class. One could buy a much more expensive car, with a ot less gas mileage.

  • http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2008/06/to-live-with-christ-daily-devotions-by-bo-giertz.html Rev. PTM

    Check out the Atlantic’s latest issue. There is a fascinating article on the GM “Volt” and what it portends for electric cars. I think in a couple years the options will be even stronger. The third generation Prius is supposed to roll out in 2010 and have sustained gase mileage rate of 60-70 mpg; however, the Prius is not an electric car as the Volt will be. It’s really quite fascinating, and very encouraging, to see GM working very hard to identify vehicles powered via alternative energy sources. We have got to break our addiction to foreign oil. It is a national security issue.

  • http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2008/06/to-live-with-christ-daily-devotions-by-bo-giertz.html Rev. PTM

    Check out the Atlantic’s latest issue. There is a fascinating article on the GM “Volt” and what it portends for electric cars. I think in a couple years the options will be even stronger. The third generation Prius is supposed to roll out in 2010 and have sustained gase mileage rate of 60-70 mpg; however, the Prius is not an electric car as the Volt will be. It’s really quite fascinating, and very encouraging, to see GM working very hard to identify vehicles powered via alternative energy sources. We have got to break our addiction to foreign oil. It is a national security issue.

  • Sean

    Bror Erickson,

    I’m trying to do the math on how you are saving $14,000/year. That means you are saving $269/week. With gas at $3/gal that’s 90 gallons per week saved. At $4/gal, that’s 67 gallons/week saved.

    I have a 30 mile commute (each way) that I make 4 days a week. So I drive 240 miles a week (more like 300-350 with various side trips added in). I spend about $50-60/week for 15-16 gallons of gas.

    How much does your wife drive in order to save so much money? Does she have some sort of job where she is responsible for a large territory and spends much of each day on the road?

  • Sean

    Bror Erickson,

    I’m trying to do the math on how you are saving $14,000/year. That means you are saving $269/week. With gas at $3/gal that’s 90 gallons per week saved. At $4/gal, that’s 67 gallons/week saved.

    I have a 30 mile commute (each way) that I make 4 days a week. So I drive 240 miles a week (more like 300-350 with various side trips added in). I spend about $50-60/week for 15-16 gallons of gas.

    How much does your wife drive in order to save so much money? Does she have some sort of job where she is responsible for a large territory and spends much of each day on the road?

  • eric

    I do not own a Prius, but had two different opportunities to drive one for 7 days.

    The first time came in mid May when we road tripped to Nashville to visit family. My in-Laws loaned us their Prius. They bought one to replace a Chevy Lumina that was t-boned by a Teenager early in 2007. We drove just under 2000 miles in 7 days. We got an average 47.4 miles per gallon on the trip. That is the number the trip computer gave us. The car has a 10.6 or 7 gallon gas tank and the warning light sounded off right at 470 miles. Our family sedan probably gets about 25 MPG, so it did save us about 46 % on gas purchases. Thanks Mom and Dad!

    I will be returning my second Prius latter today. Last Thursday my Chevy Prizm was rear ended by an S10 during a heavy down pour. The Prius is a loaner from his Insurance company. After a week of City driving we are getting about 43.5 mpg.

    My wife and I are in love with the Prius. It is a very comfortable car. It would seat four adults comfortably. The cargo area is very spacious. It handled three suitcases and all the accoutrements a family with a one year old needs. If my 120,000 mile Oldsmobile dies we will buy one; if dealers do not gouge the price.

  • eric

    I do not own a Prius, but had two different opportunities to drive one for 7 days.

    The first time came in mid May when we road tripped to Nashville to visit family. My in-Laws loaned us their Prius. They bought one to replace a Chevy Lumina that was t-boned by a Teenager early in 2007. We drove just under 2000 miles in 7 days. We got an average 47.4 miles per gallon on the trip. That is the number the trip computer gave us. The car has a 10.6 or 7 gallon gas tank and the warning light sounded off right at 470 miles. Our family sedan probably gets about 25 MPG, so it did save us about 46 % on gas purchases. Thanks Mom and Dad!

    I will be returning my second Prius latter today. Last Thursday my Chevy Prizm was rear ended by an S10 during a heavy down pour. The Prius is a loaner from his Insurance company. After a week of City driving we are getting about 43.5 mpg.

    My wife and I are in love with the Prius. It is a very comfortable car. It would seat four adults comfortably. The cargo area is very spacious. It handled three suitcases and all the accoutrements a family with a one year old needs. If my 120,000 mile Oldsmobile dies we will buy one; if dealers do not gouge the price.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Bruce,
    Sorry, fog in my morning eyes I mistyped, I meant 1,400.00
    Her commute is about 40 miles one way, 5 days a week.
    But still, that is just in her commute, not to mention the trips I have to make to California once a month etc.
    We probably would not have just gone out and purchased a hybrid, but we needed a new car when the headgasket blew on my Civic. Now I drive her old gas guzzler to work, three blocks away. I know I should walk, but what if i have to go make a visit? After I run 5 miles in the morning i don’t care to walk anywhere.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com bror erickson

    Bruce,
    Sorry, fog in my morning eyes I mistyped, I meant 1,400.00
    Her commute is about 40 miles one way, 5 days a week.
    But still, that is just in her commute, not to mention the trips I have to make to California once a month etc.
    We probably would not have just gone out and purchased a hybrid, but we needed a new car when the headgasket blew on my Civic. Now I drive her old gas guzzler to work, three blocks away. I know I should walk, but what if i have to go make a visit? After I run 5 miles in the morning i don’t care to walk anywhere.

  • Joe

    Bror – I don’t mean to pick on you but this made me laugh:

    “Now I drive her old gas guzzler to work, three blocks away. I know I should walk, but what if i have to go make a visit? After I run 5 miles in the morning i don’t care to walk anywhere.”

    Doncha think you could walk the three blocks back home to get your car if you needed to make a visit? Just made me laugh. This is jsut as good as some of the rationalizing I come up with. ;)

  • Joe

    Bror – I don’t mean to pick on you but this made me laugh:

    “Now I drive her old gas guzzler to work, three blocks away. I know I should walk, but what if i have to go make a visit? After I run 5 miles in the morning i don’t care to walk anywhere.”

    Doncha think you could walk the three blocks back home to get your car if you needed to make a visit? Just made me laugh. This is jsut as good as some of the rationalizing I come up with. ;)

  • Bryan Lindemood

    $4.00 does hurt. I was chatting with the guys about the prius the other day (boy I’d much rather be chewing the fat over a hot new blue Ford Mustang GT with stripes and the new glass roof, but anyway) one of the guys has the first gen prius. He loves it, has been thinking of trading it in, but won’t right now because he says you have to wait to get a new one from a dealer around here till next March. Get your name on the list now.
    Personally, I’m thinking of selling my classic ’68 Mustang and buying a used rice burner. I’ll call it my boy-racer car!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    $4.00 does hurt. I was chatting with the guys about the prius the other day (boy I’d much rather be chewing the fat over a hot new blue Ford Mustang GT with stripes and the new glass roof, but anyway) one of the guys has the first gen prius. He loves it, has been thinking of trading it in, but won’t right now because he says you have to wait to get a new one from a dealer around here till next March. Get your name on the list now.
    Personally, I’m thinking of selling my classic ’68 Mustang and buying a used rice burner. I’ll call it my boy-racer car!

  • The Jones

    I drive a Hummer Hybrid, which is exactly like a regular Hummer, except I get behind it and push instead of driving. Even then, I only get 15 mpg.

  • The Jones

    I drive a Hummer Hybrid, which is exactly like a regular Hummer, except I get behind it and push instead of driving. Even then, I only get 15 mpg.

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    There’s an article that suggests buying a gas efficient used car. It’s suppose to save you even more money than the Prius.

    http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/05/the-ultimate-pr.html

  • http://www.meanderinglutheran.blogspot.com Ryan Oakes

    There’s an article that suggests buying a gas efficient used car. It’s suppose to save you even more money than the Prius.

    http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/05/the-ultimate-pr.html

  • http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2008/06/to-live-with-christ-daily-devotions-by-bo-giertz.html Rev. PTM

    What I find most attractive about alternative energy cars is that I’m not putting money in the pockets of people who would love to kill me, my family and destroy my country.

  • http://cyberbrethren.typepad.com/cyberbrethren/2008/06/to-live-with-christ-daily-devotions-by-bo-giertz.html Rev. PTM

    What I find most attractive about alternative energy cars is that I’m not putting money in the pockets of people who would love to kill me, my family and destroy my country.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    PTM (@10), electricity isn’t actually an “alternative energy” source, it’s just a method for conveying or storing energy generated through some other means. Some (though currently not much) electricity is generated using oil. If electric vehicles become commonplace, we’ll have to increase our power production to compensate — I sincerely hope the increase comes more from nuclear than oil, as the latter would not solve the problem, really.

    Also, blithely lumping together the people who own and sell us oil with the terrorists that live in their country seems a bit silly. Those who sell us oil obviously want us and our oil-mad country to be around as long as possible, so we can give them all our money. Many of those who clamor for the death of America or Americans are those who are poor, not wealthy from oil. And the Bin Laden family got rich from construction. Certainly, the money we pay for oil supports many things I don’t like, but what, specifically, are you referring to?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    PTM (@10), electricity isn’t actually an “alternative energy” source, it’s just a method for conveying or storing energy generated through some other means. Some (though currently not much) electricity is generated using oil. If electric vehicles become commonplace, we’ll have to increase our power production to compensate — I sincerely hope the increase comes more from nuclear than oil, as the latter would not solve the problem, really.

    Also, blithely lumping together the people who own and sell us oil with the terrorists that live in their country seems a bit silly. Those who sell us oil obviously want us and our oil-mad country to be around as long as possible, so we can give them all our money. Many of those who clamor for the death of America or Americans are those who are poor, not wealthy from oil. And the Bin Laden family got rich from construction. Certainly, the money we pay for oil supports many things I don’t like, but what, specifically, are you referring to?

  • Phil

    There’s a company in Toronto that makes an electric car caled the Zenn car. Very popular all around the world. Goofy thing is that you can’t actually buy it in Canada because Transport Canada doesn’t have any laws to regulate this type of car.

  • Phil

    There’s a company in Toronto that makes an electric car caled the Zenn car. Very popular all around the world. Goofy thing is that you can’t actually buy it in Canada because Transport Canada doesn’t have any laws to regulate this type of car.

  • wfseube

    I have a Prius, and my wife and I LOVE IT. It is a fantastic car – roomy, cute (in an odd way), dependable, and AWESOME mileage. The mileage meter is sitting at about 51MPG right now, mixed driving over about 4-5 tanks of gas. I usually get about 550 miles on an 11 gallon tank.

    We’ll be buying another one when our Camry bites the dust (which may be a while, since they’re pretty much indestructable).

    We got ours on an employee discount (bro works for Toyota), so the “premium” was nonexistent.

  • wfseube

    I have a Prius, and my wife and I LOVE IT. It is a fantastic car – roomy, cute (in an odd way), dependable, and AWESOME mileage. The mileage meter is sitting at about 51MPG right now, mixed driving over about 4-5 tanks of gas. I usually get about 550 miles on an 11 gallon tank.

    We’ll be buying another one when our Camry bites the dust (which may be a while, since they’re pretty much indestructable).

    We got ours on an employee discount (bro works for Toyota), so the “premium” was nonexistent.

  • Dan

    I might consider a prius if the price wasn’t so high for such a small vehicle. I bought a 2001 Toyota Echo 7 years ago and it has been great. It gets about 40 miles to the gallon. Not a huge difference from a Prius and it’s paid for.

  • Dan

    I might consider a prius if the price wasn’t so high for such a small vehicle. I bought a 2001 Toyota Echo 7 years ago and it has been great. It gets about 40 miles to the gallon. Not a huge difference from a Prius and it’s paid for.

  • http://joeburnham.com Joe Burnham

    With the exception of the Prius and Civic, our Honda Fit gets better city mileage (we live in downtown Denver so most of our miles are city miles) than any of the other hybrids get on the highway.

  • http://joeburnham.com Joe Burnham

    With the exception of the Prius and Civic, our Honda Fit gets better city mileage (we live in downtown Denver so most of our miles are city miles) than any of the other hybrids get on the highway.

  • Joe

    Joe Burnham – as I understand the technology (which may be incorrect) the real savings on a hybrid are city miles. The electric motor does all your accelerating and the gas motor does all the steady cruising and idling. Thus, if you are a city driver you would actually benefit more from an hybrid than a person with a long highway commute. Am I wrong on this, anyone?

  • Joe

    Joe Burnham – as I understand the technology (which may be incorrect) the real savings on a hybrid are city miles. The electric motor does all your accelerating and the gas motor does all the steady cruising and idling. Thus, if you are a city driver you would actually benefit more from an hybrid than a person with a long highway commute. Am I wrong on this, anyone?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Now what would happen to the break-even points if the tax subsidies went away, and we started taking the opportunity cost (lost interest) into account? What if we account for likely subsidies for hybrids (acceptance of lower profit margins) and the likelihood of battery replacement after 100k miles ($$$)?

    My estimate is that none of those hybrids pay for themselves until gas reaches $10/gallon, if then. Keep in mind that the cost of motors and batteries goes up with the price of making them, too.

    As an engineer, I should love hybrids. Reality, though, is that the promise is far more than the delivery.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Now what would happen to the break-even points if the tax subsidies went away, and we started taking the opportunity cost (lost interest) into account? What if we account for likely subsidies for hybrids (acceptance of lower profit margins) and the likelihood of battery replacement after 100k miles ($$$)?

    My estimate is that none of those hybrids pay for themselves until gas reaches $10/gallon, if then. Keep in mind that the cost of motors and batteries goes up with the price of making them, too.

    As an engineer, I should love hybrids. Reality, though, is that the promise is far more than the delivery.

  • Ruthie

    How come, in my high school days, I drove a 1980 toyota tercel, that got 45 mpg??? I loved that car. Where are they now?

  • Ruthie

    How come, in my high school days, I drove a 1980 toyota tercel, that got 45 mpg??? I loved that car. Where are they now?


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