Buyers Saving Sooner on Hybrid Cars
April 29, 2007
If you've been toying with the idea of buying a hybrid car, the cost equation is tilting in your favor.
Until recently, buying a hybrid meant you were willing to shell out for a pricier car because you believed in helping the environment or because you liked to own the latest high-tech gadget. Auto-research firms found it could take up to 15 years, depending on the model, of gasoline-pump savings to offset hybrids' higher sticker price.
But now it's taking less time to break even, thanks to car makers' new deals on hybrids. Right now, the average incentive for hybrid models is about $1,638, according to Edmunds.com.
"Up until maybe a year or so ago, we were paying over sticker prices for hybrids," says Philip Reed, consumer-advice editor with Edmunds.com.
But now, "there are hybrids on car lots and they're being discounted. That's unusual. and it's also at a time when gas prices are high so people are going to want these cars," Mr. Reed says.
Those incentives are helping to shorten the length of time it takes to recoup a hybrid's higher sticker price. Last year, Edmunds.com found that it would take a bit more than two years to break even on buying a Toyota Prius, when compared with buying a gas-powered Toyota Camry LE. Today, that break-even period is less than a year, assuming you drive 15,000 miles a year.