Are hybrids more competitive now?

I’ve been comparing costs of hybrids with similar standard models for several years. Usually the hybrids have cost more to buy and own, and sometimes they cost a lot more. The Prius is a bit of an exception, as are a few mild hybrids, when used for city commuting. For the occasional long distance driving I do hybrids don’t make sense.

A Green Car Congress commenter claimed that Prius, Camry and Fusion hybrid sales were up in August, 122%, almost 800% and almost 500% respectively. So I decided to check whether hybrids had gotten more competitive than similar standard ICE models.

The Clean Car Calculator calculates the Total Cost of Ownership over five years and the Total Greenhouse Gasses Emitted over five years. I used their default values except for choosing the state of MD.

Edmunds also calculates a TCO, True Cost to Own, with a different five year methodology that adds in costs and yields much higher numbers. I included Edmunds TCO as a comparison.

Toyota Prius vs Toyota Corolla (Manual, 1.8 L)

TCO 5 Years Prius $18,982 Corolla $17,714
TGGE 5 Years Prius 10,749 kg CO2e Corolla 17,919 kg CO2e
Edmunds Prius $42,346 Corolla $37,873

Corolla still beats the Prius for cost, but emits a great deal more pollution.

Toyota Prius vs Toyota Matrix (Automatic, 1.8 L)

TCO 5 Years Prius $18,982 Matrix $19,971
TGGE 5 Years Prius 10,749 kg CO2e Matrix 19,229 kg CO2e
Edmunds Prius $42,346 Matrix $41,438

Prius still beats the Matrix for cost and emissions.

Toyota Prius c vs Toyota Yaris (Automatic)

TCO 5 Years Prius c $16,780 Yaris $15,930
TGGE 5 Years Prius c 10,750 kg CO2e Yaris 16,631 kg CO2e
Edmunds Prius c $40,477 Yaris $33,005

Yaris costs less to own than the Prius c, but pollutes a lot more.

Toyota Camry Hybrid LE vs Toyota Camry (Semi-Automatic, 6 cyl)

TCO 5 Years Hybrid $21,734 ICE $25,217
TGGE 5 Years Hybrid 12,973 kg CO2e ICE 21,964 kg CO2e
Edmunds Hybrid $39,941 ICE $40,498

Camry Hybrid now costs less to own than the standard Camry, and emits far less. That would certainly explain the increase in sales.

Ford Fusion Hybrid vs Ford Fusion FWD (4 cyl, Semi-Automatic)

TCO 5 Years Hybrid $23,894 ICE $23,450
TGGE 5 Years Hybrid 13,818 kg CO2e ICE 21,329 kg CO2e
Edmunds Hybrid $47,253 ICE $47,253

Dead heat on price, and the hybrid emits a lot less. Again, that would explain the sales increase.

Chevrolet Volt vs Chevrolet Cruze Eco (Semi-Automatic)

TCO 5 Years Volt $26,183 Cruze $19,509
TGGE 5 Years Volt 22,557 kg CO2e Cruze 17,432 kg CO2e
Edmunds Volt $42,520 Cruze $42,682

Surprisingly, the Cruze Eco wins on price and emissions. The Volt is selling reasonably well, but unless you mostly run it in battery mode, the Cruze is actually better for the environment.

Based on these list price calculations, the Camry and Fusion have joined the Prius as worthwhile purchases. Caveat emptor though, because dealers have been called out for adding on huge markups to the prices of popular hybrids.

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