Are Hybrids as Good as You Think They Are?

Physician's Money Digest, January 2006, Volume 13, Issue 1

Since filling up your car costs about asmuch as your malpractice premiums thesedays, hybrid vehicles have become a red-hotpurchase for consumers looking for abreak at the pump. But while hybrids mayget better overall gas mileage, are theyreally that much more economically soundthan their gasoline-only counterparts? Notexactly. As stated by, theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA),which tests vehicles in a highly controlledlaboratory setting, fails to properly mimic aperson's everyday driving habits, suggestingthat the miles per gallon (mpg) indicatedon the vehicle's sticker may not beaccurate. In a recent independent test, theHonda Accord V6 Hybrid, which the EPAstates should achieve 37 mpg in city driving,couldn't top more than 25 mpg, whichwas only 2 mpg more than a gasoline-onlyV6 Accord. Because the true difference ingas mileage is minimal, the hybrid versionmay not be worth the extra money. Forexample, say a hybrid vehicle costs$20,000 and gets 47 mpg, and its comparablegas-only equivalent costs $18,000and gets 34 mpg. If you drive 15,000miles a year, and gas costs $2.50 per gallon,you will save a little over $300 a yearwith the hybrid model, which doesn'tmake up for the $2000 price difference. Sowhile hybrids may be the future, there's noreal financial need to jump at purchasingone just yet.