Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for Fiat Chrysler, poses with the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, USA, 11 January 2016. Auto manufacturers from around the globe come to show off their latest models and concepts. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for Fiat Chrysler, poses with the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, USA, 11 January 2016. Auto manufacturers from around the globe come to show off their latest models and concepts. EPA/TANNEN MAURY

Are hybrids worth the cost?

Hybrids — which have both an electric motor and a gasoline engine — cost $1,200 to $15,000 more than conventional vehicles

Hybrid cars are taking up a growing share of new auto purchases as options increase and prices come down. But to figure out if a hybrid makes financial sense, consumers need to do some math.

Hybrids — vehicles with both an electric motor and a gasoline engine — cost anywhere from $1,200 to $15,000 more than their internal combustion cousins.

For example, the price difference between the hybrid and the regular 2019 Toyota Rav4 sport utility vehicle is about $1,400. But the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV starts at about $44,000, while the gas-powered version starts at $30,000.

“The number of compromises that you have to make can be very significant. And yet you pay more,” said Dennis DesRosiers, an industry analyst and president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

He cited everything from a bigger price tag to smaller trunk space.

Virtually every major update to a given gas-powered model produces an engine with 20 to 40 per cent more fuel economy, he said.

“The new Ford F-Series pickup truck was 35 per cent more fuel-efficient than the old one, so that’s more cash in your wallet.”

Hybrids also often have higher insurance premiums because they’re worth more than the gas-only versions.

The price of gas is a major factor. If you live in Vancouver, savings with a hybrid may be greater due to an average price of $1.35 per litre, according to GasBuddy.com. Gas costs an average of $1.13 in Ontario and $1.19 in Quebec.

Other key variables include location and driving habits. Hybrids generally save the most money for city drivers, where commuting distances tend to be shorter and stop-and-go traffic would suck up more gas.

ALSO READ: No crude, but still rude: BC Hydro survey reveals conflict at electric vehicle charging stations

British Columbia and Quebec also offer rebates on plug-in hybrids, making the green option more appealing.

Hybrids come in two basic types: Self-charging “mild” hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs). The self-charging variety draws on an electric motor for some acceleration and recovers energy while braking. Big-battery PHEVs run for 30 to 60 kilometres on electricity and recharge at an electrical outlet.

Matthew Klippenstein, an engineer who assists Electric Mobility Canada with its market analysis, said the longer you own your vehicle, the more you’ll drive and the more you’ll save.

That’s especially true, he said, for thirsty pickup trucks like the Ford F-150, on track to be Canada’s top-selling vehicle this year and, starting in 2020, one of the roughly 40 models that come in electric form.

“Yes, the plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles do cost more, but typically what the automakers have done is stagger their pricing, so that the high-end, all-gasoline version will be not too much less than the entry-level electric version,” Klippenstein said.

“Almost no one really buys the bare-bones combustion version. And realizing that there’s a higher price point, automakers tend to stuff in more features for hybrids.”

One way to calculate if a hybrid will save money is to divide the purchase price by the estimated difference in annual fuel cost. The final figure is the number of years needed to recoup the higher up-front cost.

The formula includes the kilometres per year, proportion of city driving, gas price and cost of electricity. For example, the Rav4 hybrid SUV could take less than four years to make up its extra cost in gas savings, assuming the buyer drives about 20,000 kilometres per year, with slightly more city driving than highway in Ontario.

To compare vehicles, drivers can head online to Natural Resouces Canada’s fuel consumption ratings search tool.

Consumers may also want to consider benefits outside of price.

A lower carbon footprint, whether your residence has a garage to plug in a PHEV, and access to HOV lanes and priority parking for zero-emissions vehicles might all be considerations.

“If you’re in a two-car family, then … I’d suggest that the main commuting vehicle could become an electric vehicle … because you’re likely not going to use it more than 100 kilometres on a day,” Klippenstein said.

Plus, he said, electric vehicles are a better ride.

“They’re quieter, they’re much torque-ier, they’re a lot more fun, basically.”

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pioneer Arena is closing for the season. Photo: John Boivin
Castlegar’s Pioneer Arena and Nelson Civic Centre closing for season

RDCK is closing the ice at two of its arenas due to financial concerns related to COVID-19

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

RCMP responded to a report early Friday morning of a suspect firing a gun at a Salmo home. Photo: Black Press
RCMP arrest woman who fired shots at Salmo home

The woman allegedly discharged a firearm early Friday morning

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

Four friends were heading to their home on Highway 6 just south of Silverton on the evening of Dec. 25, 2020, when the people in the front of the vehicle saw what looked like a “huge, man-like figure” on the side of the road. (Pixabay.com)
Possible Bigfoot sighting shocks, excites Silverton residents

‘I didn’t see the creature myself, I saw the prints’

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read