Q: Since fuel prices continue to rise I am debating purchasing a hybrid car. However, I am unsure economically if I will get a return on my investment considering fuel costs. What calculations can I complete to compare a non-hybrid car with a hybrid car?
A: The actual calculations will depend on the types of vehicles selected and the price of fuel. I will give you two examples to compare. Let’s say that you are considering purchasing a 2016 Toyota Camry or a 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid – both have excellent fuel economy. A Camry Hybrid may cost around $27,000, while a comparably equipped Camry (non-hybrid) may run around $23,000. It is estimated that the hybrid will achieve about 41 MPG (combined highway/city), while non-hybrid Camry will achieve 28 MPG (combined highway/city) with an automatic transmission. If you only considered fuel costs the following would be true. At 100,000 miles the Camry Hybrid would have used about 2439 gallons of fuel while the non-hybrid consumed 3571 gallons. To calculate gallons, take the miles driven divided by MPG (e.g., 100,000/41 = 2439). If gas prices averaged $2.25 a gallon, the hybrid would have saved you about $2,547. Since the sticker price difference is about $5,000, it would take about 200,000 miles to make up the cost in fuel savings. However, the hybrid may still be a good choice if you are looking for ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption and decrease pollution. If you are looking to compare two vehicles side-by-side, FuelEconomy.gov has a nice online tool.