# Hybrid or Gas Fuzzy Math

The CarTalk.com home page today has an article “HYBRID OR GAS?” which calculates that the break-even between a Prius C and a Yaris is 53,600 mi.
Using the same EPA averages (50 mpg Prius C and 32 mpg Yaris), I calculate 95,000 miles. Using recent averages from Fuelly.com of 48 mpg Prius C and 37 mpg Yaris, I get 173,000 miles! I used the same \$2.48/gal gas, and a \$2,660 premium for the Prius C from the article. Hmmmm…

I haven’t read the article, but gas here today is \$2.859 for regular unleaded. How do the numbers compare then?

For me the answer is right above. EPA averages 50 mpg for Prius C and 32 mpg for Yaris. That’s where the discussion should end. The Prius uses less gasoline than the Yaris. That’s why you buy one. The break-even point or other such arguments just cloud the issue.

You might as well talk about the break-even point of skiing or camping, or the return on investment of a set of golf clubs.

You might as well talk about the break-even point of skiing or camping, or the return on investment of a set of golf clubs.

Ooooookaaaaayyyy…

I got 95,000 miles, too.
And I would be interested in the breakeven point if I was comparing the two.

Today, oil futures reached their highest level in several years.
Despite the previous predictions of further gas price declines, this new development would seem to indicate that gas price increases are on the horizon.

My point in saying that was that driving a hybrid is a lifestyle choice much as wearing a certain brand of clothes or buying a type of house. And as such it has an intangible quality about it that is not able to be judged by looking at dollars and cents.

If you choose to only eat grass-fed beef (which costs more than corn-fed), how would you determine the break-even point?

Ase, as you know, I drive an Insight. I love it. What I do not like is inaccurate and misleading reporting appearing in a featured article on this site.

I drive a Yaris and I get much better than 32 mpg, usually 41-44. 32 mpg? Perhaps if you are one of those people who just has to race towards each and every red light.

“Today, oil futures reached their highest level in several years.”

What? Nope, no way, no how, they’re at \$47.85, a FRACTION of what they were 18 months ago.

Agree with both. I would hope the author and his/her editor and anyone else doing the math just didn’t know how to set up the problem and was not purposefully misleading.
It just shows me again that it’s really hard to economically justify many energy-savings purchases and it really comes down to a lifestyle choice.

Ahh, no, I wasn’t aware you drove an Insight. But that sure seems to fit your profile name.

My sister in law drove an Insight for a few years. She loved it too.

If you consider the loss of investment income from the difference in price between the cars that moves the break even point further into the future. Not of much interest ro me, I wouldn’t fit in either one.

Maybe they are considering other cost factors besides the initial price difference. Routine maintenance, repair costs, insurance, trade-in value, etc. Seems the article should have mentioned those factors though.

I would like to see a study where they ask the drivers’/buyers’ of the Prius C to see if they have done any calculations before buying their car. Also would want to know, even if you showed them financially the Yaris makes more sense, would they willing to change their mind.

I haven’t read the article, but one needs to also realistically consider depreciation differences. People are far more reluctant to buy a used Prius than a used Yaris because of concerns about the battery packs. That drives the resale cost way down.

Nomatter. I don’t believe people buy Priuses because of a perception of reduced long term costs. I believe they buy them because of a perception of reduced daily operating costs and/or a feeling of “doing the right thing” environmentally.

I didn’t read the article but that never stops me from commenting. To me its just a matter of practical and reasonable. I get 29-30 mpg with both my V6 Acura and Pontiac, so for 15000 miles a year I would use 500 gallons. If I had some kind of go cart that got 50 mpg instead, I would use 300 gallons for the same distance. The difference of 200 gallons a year at \$2.60 is nearly insignificant comparing the utility of the vehicle required to get 50 mpg. I probably use 50-100 gallons a year just on lawn mowers and snow blowers so really 200 gallons is nothing.

If you consider the loss of investment income from the difference in price between the cars that moves the break even point further into the future.

If I consider the loss on investment income from the money I spent taking my family out to dinner on Sunday, how do I decide whether to eat out or stay home?

even if you showed them financially the Yaris makes more sense, would they willing to change their mind.

I don’t think there’s a way to quantify which one makes more sense. The difference of a few thousand dollars spread over the life of the car isn’t particularly useful when there are so many other things at play. It’s like saying you should order chicken for dinner instead of fish because it makes financial sense and not taking into account what you want or like.

The choice between Hybrid and non Hybrid depends on more than just how quick you can recover the premium. Back in 2009 when my Mom finally got ready to buy a new car after 19yrs with the faithful Mazda (desiring things like A/C,cruise,and more than 40mpg on the highway) I showed her everything on the market at the time including the Prius and Insight and the only one that met all of her varied wants and needs was the 2010 Prius. My dad was the one asking about whether she would really drive enough to make the hybrid worth it but now he insists taking the Prius everywhere they go because it gets double the gas mileage of his car.

The extra \$2,000 or so to get the car that mom really wanted quickly was forgotten about and she’s had the car for just over 6yrs and really couldn’t care less if she’s reached some sort of break even point or not. The 50-60mpg she’s getting is a big reason she went hybrid over a Corolla or other car that didn’t really fit the bill. My dad figures the gas they save during the daily routine can offset the 80 gallons or so that the 26ft boat uses each season. It works for them.

I worked for someone who after owning almost nothing but huge Cadillac luxury cars, bought himself a Prius because one of his friends had one and allowed him to take it for a test drive. He was so impressed by the car itself that he went out and got one for himself.
The Yaris is a hair shirt of a car, a bare bones economy car, something you settle for if you can’t afford something nicer.
The Prius on the other hand is a really nice car and many would own one even if it got worse mpg than a Yaris.

I think comparing a Prius C and a Yaris may not be valid. Hybrid vs Not is best done with a car that comes in both flavor and is optioned at the same level. Then you get the real cost difference and can determine when fuel cost savings breaks even for the hybrid.

Edit: I took my own advice and looked up a couple of hybrid/not hybrid cars: Honda Civic and Ford Fusion. It seems that the hybrid is also about \$3000 more than the equivalent car without hybrid power plant.