Sunday, July 1, 2007

Hybrid Evaluation and Two Car Families

With gas prices in excess of $3.00 gallon, fuel economy should be a relevant factor in any car purchase.

For me, I have decided to purchase a mid-sized SUV. The focus of my attention is the Toyota Highlander. With a hybrid available, I decided to do some simple math to determine the cost effectiveness of the hybrid v. the traditional models.

Basically, it is no-brainer against the hybrid. Assuming 12,000 miles driving in mixed hwy/city driving, the normal vehicles will burn approximately $1,700 in fuel. They hybrid would burn $1,250. Depending on options, the Hybrid version costs $4-7 thousand more then the I-4 and V6 models.

Bottom line – the hybrid Highlander is not a good financial option for most people.

Commentary: While Toyota (and Honda) deserve a lot of credit for pushing the hybrid technology, they deserve some criticism for their execution of hybrid technology.
1. Instead of optimizing the vehicles for MPG, they optimize the vehicles to make them faster. As a result, they don’t get the most MPG improvement possible.
2. To maximize profits, many hybrids are loaded with lots of options increasing the price.

Two Car Strategy: When my sister got married, they had a two car strategy. One car was a Honda Civic Coupe. Taking advantage of its low operating costs, they drove it until it died. The other car was a Camry. As their family grew, the Camry became a minivan. In the age of carseats (often more then one), bigger cars become a necessity.

In my case, my GF and I both have very small, fuel efficient vehicles 28mpg and 30+mpg. To save money, I am doing the landscaping on my house. Unfortunately, neither vehicle has the trunk space or towing capacity I need. By getting the Highlander, I can store most loads inside the cargo area or tow a small trailer. Since my commute is short, I should be able to keep the fuel costs under control. We are going to use her car for all long trips.

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