One of the main issues with hybrids is their larger upfront cost compared to regular gas powered cars. When the Prius first came out (and gas was alot cheaper), the payback period – the amount of time it took when the amount saved in gasoline equaled the initial higher cash paid – was four or five years. However, Consumer Reports is saying in their latest issue that they payback period for several hybrids is now just one year.
You’ll need to subscribe (or buy it on the newstand to see the full article), but according to the Consumer Reports abstract, six of the twelve affordable hybrids they looked at pay back their price premium after one year. These hybrids are the Prius and the hybrid versions of the Chevy Malibu and Tahoe, the Ford Escape, the Saturn Vue, and the Toyota Camry. Three other hybrid models (the hybrid versions of the Honda Civic, the Nissan Altima and Saturn Aura) need federal tax incentives to come out ahead after one year – the first six don’t need the incentives for the one year payback period. The remaining three hybrids – the Lexus GS 450h and RX 400h, and the Totota Highlander Hybrid still cost alot more than their non hybrid counterparts even after five years.
The estimates were based on gasoline at $4.00 per gallon and 12,000 miles driven per year.