Our Point of View: Hybrid Cost Analysis

by Irv Miller

We often rationalize large-ticket purchases based on price, and even more so when our pocketbooks are pinched. We see a lot of hybrid affordability comparisons these days. Here’s mine. So, let’s do the comparison.

The manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $22,000 for the all new third-generation 2010 mid-size Toyota Prius II is $1,806 less than the $23,806 median price of the mid-size sedan segment.

Compared to vehicles in its segment, the compact class Honda Insight LX (base model) is priced $1,400 higher (2009 compact car median price is $18,395) and has only a modest fuel-economy advantage.

Let’s do the math based on a Prius II (base MSRP of $22,000) versus an Insight EX (base MSRP of $21,300). These models are equipped the way most consumers want.

Using industry loan averages (60 month term, 7.45 percent annual percentage rate [APR], $2,400 down, tax, title and registration), the Prius has a monthly payment of $435 while the Insight carries a monthly payment of $420…a difference of $15. That’s just a couple of Starbucks double shot Grande Lattes a month.

Now let’s factor in annual fuel costs based on the EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 50 mpg (city and highway combined) for Prius and 41 mpg (city and highway combined) for Insight and 15,000 miles at $2.62 a gallon (national average as of 6/8/2009). The Prius will save you about $172 per year or $14 a month over the Insight.

Now the overall difference is just a little over a dollar. So for a buck more each month, you get a roomier vehicle that is a full hybrid with better mileage ratings, enhanced performance, vehicle stability control, driver’s knee airbag, beltless engine, rear disc brakes….well, you get the drift.

If you compare the Prius I (base MSRP of $21,000), due out later this year, to the Insight LX (base MSRP of $19,800), which is still not an apples to apples (size and equipment) comparison, the monthly payment difference including the fuel savings is only about $12.

So, when considering hybrid affordability, look beyond MSRP. When the bigger picture is seen, Prius definitely provides more value for your money.
 
 

Prius II

Insight EX

Difference

MSRP

$ 22,000

$ 21,300

$ 700

60 months term

     

7.45% APR

     

$2,400 down

     

tax

     

title

     

registration

     

total loan amount

$ 21,745

$ 20,977

$ 768

monthly payment

$ 435.20

$ 419.83

$ 15.37

combine mpg

50

41

9

annual fuel cost (15k/yr & $2.62gal)

$ 786.00

$ 958.00

$ 172.00

annual fuel cost diff in month

   

$ 14.33

diff monthly payment – gas savings

 

   

$15.37-$14.33

$ 1.04

   
       
       
 

Prius I

Insight LX

Difference

MSRP

$ 21,000

$ 19,800

$ 1,200

60 months term

     

7.45% APR

     

$2,400 down

     

tax

     

title

     

registration

     

total loan amount

$ 20,858

$ 19,529

$ 1,329

monthly payment

$ 417.45

$ 390.85

$ 26.60

combine mpg

50

41

9

annual fuel cost (15k/yr & $2.62gal)

$ 786.00

$ 958.00

$ 172.00

annual fuel cost diff in month

   

$ 14.33

diff monthly payment – gas savings

 

   

$26.60-$14.33

$ 12.27

 

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