Are Hybrid Cars Really Worth the Extra Cost?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Japanese automakers Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) made waves in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they debuted their first hybrid vehicles in the United States, the Insight and the Prius, respectively. Boasting higher MPGs than had ever really been seen on a mass-production scale, the cars immediately found a niche with the green crowd, many of whom were still seething the loss of GM’s EV1.

Since then, hybrids have grown immensely, and virtually every major automaker has hopped on the bandwagon in one form or another. In fact, hybrid tech has become so advanced that companies like Ferrari, Porsche, and McLaren are using it in its $1 million-plus super cars — though decidedly not for fuel savings.

Yet, hybrids still cost a premium when compared to their non-hybrid counterparts (for cars that offer both hybrid and non-hybrid models simultaneously.) This premium, according to a recent study by MojoMotors, can be as much as 20 percent, and for good reason: hybrid systems are complex, the batteries aren’t cheap, and there’s a lot of engineering work involved that internal gasoline engines don’t require.

But it begs the question: Is it worth splurging the extra couple of grand up front to save on fuel over the life of the car? Many often wonder this, MojoMotors being one of them. “We evaluated car models that have both hybrid and non-hybrid trims,” the site said. “We built them with the same packages and then compared the difference in price. We then took the difference in MPG and figured how far you can drive until the savings in gas cancels out the difference in MSRP.” MojoMotors used a fuel price of $3.50 per gallon as its reference, though this will vary widely depending on your region of residence.