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April 03, 2005
Hybrid Car Economics
The technologist in me thinks hybrid cars are cool and they should be slightly more efficient for both the way people buy and then actually drive cars. However, this article from the NYT got me thinking about the raw economics.
The key assumption in my quickey excel analysis is that a Prius costs about $3K more than an equivalent standard gas car and comes directly from the article. My car isn't a direct comparable on price or power, but because it has higher horsepower then the comparable, it ought to show an even bigger benefit of lower cost of gas utilization against the hybrid.
I calculated that I drive about 230 miles a week 50 weeks a year for a yearly total of about 11,500 miles. Thats a touch high for my actual experience but not far. I know that my car gets about 21 miles per gallon. My car requires premium, but for apples to apples, I will act like I use regular unleaded and thus assume a gas price in the Bay Area of $2.25. That means I currently use about 10.95 gallons of gas per week. For the Prius I used an eyeball average efficiency based on the article of 50 miles per gallon (of which I'm skeptical but I can be conservative here and still show my point.) That means that I would use 4.6 gallons per week with the hybrid - a net savings of $14.29 cents per week.
How many years do I have to drive the car before I get my $3K back? 4 years.
All you seem to be doing when you buy a hybrid is prepaying for gasoline. When do the batteries on the hybrid wear out and how much do they cost to replace? If I wouldn't actually average 50 mpg and instead got a more realistic 42 mpg, it would take 4 years and 8 months to recoup my initial cost.
Assuming $2500 from the article for the plug in addons make the numbers worse and lengthen the recoup cost out to 5 years and 5 months at 100mpg ignoring the overnight electricity costs. Potentially nuclear power could drive this cost down but this stuff looks like a fad for now.
Update: Went to the pump today and noticed my price of gas may be low. As such, I ran this at $3 a gallon and the two lengths to recoup were still 3 years and 6 months for the regular Prius and 4 years for the battery enhanced Prius.
Posted by hoffmang | April 03, 2005 12:35 AM