That’s the question I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Not just because of the gas prices rising, but also because I had a chance to shop for a car again.
My conclusion is that it is not the time for a hybrid right now. Why?
1. The gas prices are on the rise, which drives more people towards the hybrid cars. The hybrids are considered to have much better MPG’s and are regarded as gas-saving vehicles. People consider it as money saving as well, although it’s not necesserily so.
2. The earthquake and the tsunami in Japan left companies like Honda, Nissan and Toyota in a bad situation. The plants reduced production, some even halted. The plants in the US reduced production as well due to the shortage in parts coming from Japan. Toyota (with it’s Prius and Camry), Honda (with it’s Civic and Insight) and Nissan (with it’s Altima) are the main manufacturers of hybrid cars. Thus, the Japan disaster leads to a big shortage of new hybrids on the market. Try to get a new one from a dealership, even if they have it – you’ll pay above the sticker price.
3. The shortage of the Japanese cars leads to the greater demand on other hybrids – at some places you have to get into a waiting list or back-order a Ford Fusion Hybrid or Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Price might not be negotiable as well.
4. The shortages on the new cars market lead to a greater demand on the used ones. If you have one and considered selling – now is the time. It’s the hybrid sellers market.
However, is it justified?
Hybrid doesn’t necessarily mean economical. For example, the MPG for Toyota Camry Hybrid are no better than the MPG for Hyundai Elantra (non-hybrid).
Also, hybrids are much more expensive. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has MSRP of almost $2000 more than the fancy “Sport” version of the same car. Hyundai Sonata Limited, with features comparable to a Lexus, is priced at $25495, while the hybrid version is at $25795 – with less features.
Is the price difference worth it? How much gas do you need to buy to justify the difference? And if the MPG is the main goal, then there are gas-only vehicles with better mileages than the hybrids. As mentioned before, Hyundai Elantra has much better mileage than Toyota Camry Hybrid, and is comparable to Ford Fusion Hybrid or Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Price? Almost $10000 less than the hybrids.
Think about it. As it is right now – for the same money you can buy a much better equipped and newer non-hybrid model, or buy a similar non-hybrid model for a much lower price, compensating yourself for the higher prices at the pump.