Burnaby, British Columbia – Hybrids will now be less cost-competitive in British Columbia, according to the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), due to the new harmonized sales tax and corresponding elimination of the provincial sales tax rebate on them.

Even with technical advancements and increased sales and model selection, consumers continue to pay a premium to purchase a hybrid, BCAA said, and most hybrid models continue to cost more to own and operate than their conventional gasoline-powered counterparts.

According to the association’s annual hybrid cost and savings analysis, conducted in July, several models come close to their conventional cousins when costs are compared over five years, but only the $105,000 Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid sedan is less expensive to own and operate compared to its conventional equivalent, at approximately $5,000 less to own and operate than a Mercedes-Benz S450.

The study compared 16 hybrid models and their conventional equivalents side by side and compared and purchase, financing and fuel costs over a five-year period, assuming a constant gas price of $1.17 per litre and driving 20,000 kilometres a year. The main differences between the 2010 and 2009 cost studies are the price of gas, which was $1.04 per litre last year, and the elimination of the provincial sales tax rebate and luxury vehicle tax.

The hybrids that came closest to their conventional counterparts in purchase and operating costs were the Toyota Prius, Camry and Highlander Hybrid, the Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid, and the Lexus HS250h. Over five years, the least-costly to own and operate are the Insight ($38,326), Prius ($40,324) and Civic Hybrid ($42,664).

The hybrids with the greatest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions advantage over their gas-powered equivalents were the Prius (55 per cent fewer GHG emissions), Ford Fusion Hybrid (38 per cent less) and Civic Hybrid (37 per cent less). The hybrids with the lowest overall GHG emissions, at kilograms of carbon per year, were the Prius (1,748 kg/yr), Civic Hybrid (2,070 kg/yr), Insight (2,162 kg/yr) and Fusion Hybrid (2,352 kg/yr).

“With the elimination first of the federal tax incentive, and now the provincial tax rebate, it appears it’s still going to be a while before hybrids offer a cost advantage over standard vehicles,” said Trace Acres, BCAA director of corporation communications and government relations. “What we are seeing, however, is manufacturers starting to offer price breaks for things like cash sales, so an environmentally-conscious consumer may still be able to make a hybrid purchase work financially by shopping around. BCAA’s research shows that cost is not typically the main motivator for someone looking to purchase a hybrid. We believe that many consumers are willing to pay a bit more to ‘go hybrid’ if it will reduce their carbon footprint.”

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