Hybrid car payback: Whom to believe

Hybrid car payback. Are hybrid cars cost-effective? It depends upon whom you ask?

Hybrid cars just about messaging?

The best hybrid car for the money

Inevitably, consumers are driven by cost-effectiveness. While between 2 to 3 percent of consumers will buy hybrid cars to send a message, most will not.

Still, is the Mercedes S400 hybrid really the only hybrid that pays consumers back after 5 years of ownership?

That's what a recent Canadian study found. After 5 years, a hybrid costs more than its conventional counterpart despite gasoline savings, except in one case, the S400 hybrid.

Time for Consumer Reports to go out of business?

Yet, according to Consumer Reports when factoring the “best or worst combination of performance, utility, and reliability for the money, considering all owner costs over a five-year period” the Toyota Prius and the Toyota Camry hybrid each make the Top Ten list.

So, which study is right?

I'm not sure. The wide variance found in such studies suggests that far too much subjectivity is involved in deriving such conclusions.

Nevertheless, consumers have strongly indicated that if payback isn't achieved very quickly – such as within a year or two – then the car simply isn't going to resonate on the sale's floor. Consequently, many hybrid cars might be more cost-effective than portrayed in this latest study, however, further cost-effectiveness is still required if hybrids are to ever achieve mainstream appeal.


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