Average Cost of a Hybrid Car


Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

, Automotive Editor - November 11, 2013

Average Cost of Hybrid Car

With gas prices skyrocketing and a prevailing consumer desire to be environmentally conscious, the average cost of a hybrid car has been declining. During the same time period, the number of options from both foreign and domestic manufacturers has increased exponentially.

See our Top Picks for 2013 Hybrid Cars >>

Most Commonly Seen Hybrids on the Road

Japanese manufacturers were the first pioneers of hybrid technology, thus their hybrids have been around longer, bringing new innovation as well as cost savings to the consumer. Most of these are sedan models, ranging in MSRP price from around $23,000 to $35,000 for a brand-new model.

New Options for Hybrids

Many domestic and European car manufacturers have begun to produce hybrid versions of some of their top-selling models. Surprisingly, domestic SUVs go for prices not much more than their smaller Japanese sedan counterparts at around $30,000 to $45,000 MSRP. However, if you are looking for something a little higher-end, some European manufacturers have models that range in the high $60,000s.

Eventual Cost Savings

While the initial price of hybrid cars may be between $2,000 and $10,000 more than a gasoline-engined car, the ultimate savings make the purchase worth the investment. Hybrid cars run on a combination of electric power and gasoline, requiring fewer stops at the filling station and ultimately saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars in fuel costs.

Federal government programs have also catered to drivers of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles with multiple new car tax breaks and rebates. The credits for owning a green car often times offset the higher cost of the original purchase, making the car nearly as affordable as a traditional vehicle.

Also, in many urban cities where carpool lanes are in effect, drivers who own a hybrid car may be able to utilize those lanes when driving alone, as well as completely avoid paying bridge or highway tolls. This varies from state to state, however there are multiple green car driver programs already instituted.

Maintenance Isn't Much of a Cost Concern

Initially, new consumers of hybrid vehicles were concerned with potential problems they might have encountered when forced to make repairs to their cars, and the availability of maintenance shops carrying the appropriate parts. However, as more hybrid cars hit the road, more shops have adapted to these types of repairs with little increase in costs compared to dealing with traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles. The other upside to this issue is that hybrid vehicles tend to have fewer maintenance issues than normal cars on the road.

The confidence of hybrid car manufacturers is evident from the scope of their warranties. The majority of hybrid car manufacturers, including Honda, Ford and Toyota, are offering 8 to 10 years of warranty coverage on their various hybrids. For example, Toyota is offering a whopping 180,000-mile warranty for their battery packs, while Hyundai’s hybrid batteries come with a lifetime warranty.

See our List for the Best Hybrid Cars >>

As far as the maintenance of hybrid cars is concerned, most hybrid components do not require regular maintenance. Oil changes must be done just like with conventional gas autos. Another distinct advantage is the regenerative braking technology in hybrids, which captures energy created during braking and uses it to charge the batteries. The brake pads will last longer because of this technology.

Overall Total Cost of Ownership for a Hybrid SUV

At present, hybrid SUVs are still much more expensive than non-hybrid SUVs. Depending on the manufacturer of the SUV, prices for a hybrid version of a particular make and model may differ by as much as $10,000 to $12,000 over the price of the standard gas-engine version of the same SUV.

Many hybrid SUVs return 20 to 40 percent better gas mileage than the standard gas-engine version. However, many industry experts state that the average savings of a hybrid SUV over a conventional-engine SUV model generally translates to only about $300 to $600 per year.

Therefore, it is hard to justify the price difference of a hybrid SUV versus a non-hybrid version when savings on fuel costs amount to so little. While a person's driving habits will dictate how much he or she will save in fuel costs, industry experts project that the time required to recoup the added cost of a hybrid SUV will take between 7 and 15 years. Furthermore, many analysts project that many drivers would never be able to actually see a return on their investment with a hybrid SUV.

Because a hybrid SUV relies so heavily on its electric battery, hybrid SUV batteries are generally much more expensive than standard car batteries.

Related Questions and Answers

What are the Cheapest Hybrid Car Luxury Models?

The cheapest hybrid cars in the luxury category are the Lexus CT 200h and HS 250h, which sell for around $30,000 and $38,000, respectively. Hybrids and electrics in the luxury category range in price from $30,000 all the way up to $400,000, which will get you an all-electric super-fast Venturi Fetish. In the more affordable category, the aforementioned models are followed by another Lexus, the RX 450h. BMW also produces ActiveHybrid versions of some of its popular models, though they do not come cheap. Driving a luxury hybrid can be expensive, but the savings on gas will help you justify the big price tag.

Is the Price of Hybrid Cars Going Up or Down?

Since they were introduced, the price of hybrid cars has definitely come down. In recent years, things have leveled off and will probably stay around the same price level until hybrids gain a bigger share of the market. As more people buy hybrids the price will continue to fall, but at this point in time not enough are being sold for a big price drop to occur. In many cases, the most popular hybrids are hard to find. Also, there have been cases of people paying more than the MSRP price just to get their hands on one.

Is there anything Specific to Expect from Future Hybrid SUV Models?

As to future hybrid SUV vehicles, in the near term hybrid SUVs such as the Ford C-Max and Escape are shifting from nickel-metal hydride technology to newer and better lithium-ion technology. It is likely that future hybrids will be turning into fully electric vehicles as more Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric and other EVs win over consumers. Nissan's LEAF, a successful compact hatchback hybrid, is a boxy affair that will travel around 75 miles on an overnight electric charge from an extra-cost 240V home quick-charge station.

How Does Hybrid SUV Mileage Compare to that of Hybrid Trucks?

The truth about hybrid SUV mileage when compared with hybrid pickups is there isn't any difference in fuel economy. Unless you are constantly hauling half-ton loads of rocks in a Silverado 1500 Hybrid, the fuel economy is no different than in the Tahoe Hybrid SUV, built on the same chassis and with the same powertrain. The primary difference is that the Tahoe swaps the truck bed for an enclosed cargo area.

, Automotive Editor

Armaan Almeida was an Automotive Editor who produced buying guides and sneak previews, in addition to publishing daily news stories and tracking monthly deals, incentives and pricing trends from Toyota, Nissan and Lexus.

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