March 3, 2006

Consumers Reports finds hybrid owners don’t recoup extra costs

Yonkers, New York – Consumer Reports has investigated all of the major ownership costs and financial benefits of six different hybrid vehicles, and reports that none recovered its price premium in the first five years and 120,700 km (75,000 miles).

The analysis found that extra ownership costs on the vehicles (a mix of sedans and SUVs) over five years ranged from US$3,700 to US$13,300. Even when the analysis was extended to cover ten years and 241,400 km (150,000 miles), it was not possible to recover the price premium for a hybrid vehicle. The magazine also reports that the benefits and costs of hybrids vary significantly depending on the model, and it is important for consumers to look carefully at all aspects of the vehicle before buying. The full report will be published in the Annual April Auto Issue, which goes on sale March 7, 2006.

The vehicles examined were 2006 models of the Ford Escape Hybrid AWD, Honda Accord Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid, Lexus RX400h AWD, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD and Toyota Prius.

The magazine reports that hybrids typically deliver the best fuel economy in their classes, and the most fuel-efficient models can save a consumer about US$660 in gasoline costs. They also emit less pollution, and in some states, hybrid owners can use special carpool lanes otherwise reserved for a minimum number of occupants. The magazine states, “These benefits add up to an inviting package for many car buyers who are willing to pay a premium for a hybrid. But for those who are considering buying a hybrid for purely financial reasons, the figures just don’t add up.”

Factors considered in the study included the purchase price premium, the difference in sales tax, savings from hybrid federal tax credits, fuel savings, and extra costs such as insurance premiums, extra maintenance, extra depreciation and financing costs. After factoring in federal tax credits and fuel savings based on gasoline prices rising to US$3 and US$4 per gallon, the calculations showed that the most cost-effective hybrids, the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius, still cost US$3,700 and US$5,250 more than the Civic EX and Corolla LE after five years. Models with the highest cost difference, the Honda Accord Hybrid, Lexus RX400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited ranged from US$10,250 to US$13,300 more.

Connect with