Does a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle Always Save Money in the Long Run?

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These days more and more car buyers are asking themselves: Will I definitely save money if I buy an alternative car such as a hybrid or electric model? Unfortunately, you can’t really answer that question with any degree of certainty. Why you ask? Well the problem is there are just too many variables involved, and although you can use various available tools to get a rough estimate of your costs over a 5 or 10 year period, your actual costs could be considerably higher.

So what are these variables and why is there no definitive answer? Let’s take a closer look…

The main sticking point for many people when they go about the process is the initial cost. This is the same reason that some people choose not to switch from oil to gas heating. You have to pay a lot more up front and the savings is achieved over time. That’s a tough concept for some people for one reason or another.

A hybrid, or electric, or any alternative vehicle will cost you a bit more than a traditional gas vehicle, sometimes several thousand dollars more. But over time, with the gas savings, it should pay for itself and after a certain number of years you should be ahead. But this is not always the case.

Although there is a limited amount of long term data due to the relatively new introduction of these vehicles, it appears that some models will save you more in the long run than others due to different insurance and maintenance costs. So in addition to making the cost comparison between regular and alternative vehicles, you also have to compare one alternative vehicle to another. You have fully electric cars as well as half electric half gas, and there are even more types to consider as well.

There’s also the convenience factor to consider, which is difficult to put into dollars and sense. With a regular car, you just hop in and go. If you run out of gas, you pull into a gas station and minutes later you on the road again. Not so with most electric vehicles. Some of them take up to 12 hours to fully recharge. That’s a long time to wait and something that will certainly be a hindrance in an emergency.

In addition to the initial cost, you also have to consider maintenance costs. There are tens of thousands of great mechanics out there, but how many of them know how to work on hybrids and electrics? What if there is a big issue to contend with? You might have to shell out thousands for a specialized mechanic or part.

As alternative vehicles are becoming more and more popular, many of these concerns will no longer exist, as they will become cheaper and the costs of replacement parts and those specialized in fixing them will come down as well. But for now, you’ll need to figure all of this in and determine if an alternative vehicle makes sense for you right now. If not, opt for a traditional gas vehicle and perhaps make the transition the next time you’re in the market for new car.