Thinking about buying a hybrid car but you’re having reservations? That’s quite alright. There is no denying that hybrid and electric cars are growing in popularity, for example, Toyota is planning to have a hybrid version of each model available by 2025. Despite the many capabilities of this dual-engine vehicle, including high fuel-efficiency and being environmentally-friendly, many Aussies are still wondering if hybrid cars are worth investing in.
To help make up your mind, let’s look at the total cost of owning a hybrid car, including the upfront, running, and maintenance costs. Ultimately, this calculation will help you determine which option is cheaper in the long run.
Note that any comparisons mentioned between a hybrid car and a non-hybrid car are done on the same make and model.
The initial cost of a hybrid vs non-hybrid
In terms of upfront cost, hybrid cars are generally more expensive than cars with a combustion engine. Because they are more expensive to manufacture, car companies sell them with a marginal price to consumers. That’s why hybrid cars in Australia cost an average of $4,650 more than a non-hybrid car. If you’ll be getting a car loan, this implies that you’ll be paying higher interest for the vehicle.
This difference in price should go down in the future when the hybrid technology advances. But for now, the cost of buying a hybrid car is significantly higher compared to non-hybrid vehicles.
Unlike the upfront cost, there is no major difference between the cost of maintaining a hybrid car and a non-hybrid vehicle. You can expect hybrid cars to be just as reliable as non-hybrid cars, so you can’t judge whether hybrid cars are worth it based on this alone.
However, there are notable maintenance savings that you can make when owning a hybrid car. One is on the brake pads, which will last longer compared to those of non-hybrid cars. Another is on the insurance because discounted rates are offered by some insurance companies.
The last one is on the battery. Contrary to popular belief, hybrid car batteries are very reliable and will last throughout the vehicle’s life. That’s the reason most manufacturers offer battery warranty for up to 10 years and 10,000 miles of coverage. It’s unlikely that you will need to change the battery of a hybrid car.
Meanwhile, the average battery life of gas-powered cars in Australia is at 3.5 years and a battery replacement cost starts at $150. In 7 years, you can save at least $300 on battery maintenance. Then again, these are just minor maintenance savings compared to the overall cost of owning a hybrid car. So, let’s move to the next factor.
As mentioned earlier, Hybrid cars are very fuel-efficient, so you’ll save more petrol money by owning one. But your savings will vary on the price of petrol or diesel. If it goes up, then your savings will too.
For example, let’s compute the yearly cost of gas for both petrol and hybrid versions of the Hyundai Sonata.
A hybrid engine Sonata runs 18 km per litre while the petrol engine has a 12.5 km per litre average. On a rate of $1.50/litre, a Sonata Hybrid running at 20,000 km/year will make you spend just $1,667 annually on petrol. On the other hand, a gas-powered Sonata will cost you $2,400 on gas with the same rate and yearly mileage.
That’s a $733 cost of gas you’ll save yearly and $7,330 on a 10-year period, just by driving a Sonata Hybrid. If the furl price goes up, then your fuel savings will offset the money you spent more on buying a hybrid car over a gas-powered car.
Another factor to consider when deciding if hybrid cars are worth it is the presence of incentives. Just like with new gas-powered vehicles, dealers offer a cashback incentive when buying new hybrid cars. If you purchase a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid today, the dealership will give a $2500 cash back. On the other hand, you can expect a $2000 rebate from the purchase of Hyundai Sonata SE.
But other than getting a cash back, there are no other incentives given to hybrid car owners today. Government tax credits apply to pure electric cars and plug-in vehicles, but not hybrid cars. See our guide to electric cars for more information about the different types of electric cars.
Hybrids also still don’t have reduced registration costs, financing discounts, and operating incentives, all of which are currently applicable to electric vehicles (EVs).
However, there are non-monetary incentives for owning hybrid cars. First is being able to drive in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane and escape traffic. Second, you’ll get access to special parking space and other perks offered by some companies to hybrid car owners. The third is the time you’ll save by not going to petrol stations as often. And lastly, you’ll ease your conscience knowing you’re reducing emissions and protecting the environment.
Are hybrid cars worth it? There are two answers to this question based on the information we’ve given. In terms of the overall cost of owning a hybrid car, it would be a ‘No’. Although there are small savings you can make on brake pads, battery, and cash incentives; these aren’t enough to outweigh the huge upfront cost of buying a hybrid car.
Fuel efficiency is one of the advantages of hybrids, that’s true. But it’ll only make a difference if you’re keeping the hybrid car for a long time, 8-10 years at the least. However, this is not a financially sound decision. Vehicles of this age have already depreciated greatly, so it will only command a cheaper resale value. That’s why most Australians do not keep a car for more than 6 years.
Meanwhile, hybrid cars are worth it if you are more concerned about their non-monetary benefits like saving time from going to gas stations frequently and escaping traffic. Hybrid cars are also worth it if you want to minimise your carbon footprint. These can lead you to a less stressful and happier life. If the moral value is worth more than a couple of thousand dollars, then yes, hybrid cars are worth it.
Whether you are thinking to buy hybrid or fuel car, Call CarFinance.com.au today to speak with one of our finance experts and get the best financing for your new car.