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The rising price at the gas pump is prompting more and more Ontarians to consider making a hybrid their next vehicle purchase. For sure, there is plenty of emphasis on how much hybrid vehicles can save you in gas costs because of their fuel efficiency.
A hybrid basically operates on the combination of a conventional engine and a battery-powered electric motor. The battery-run electric motor relieves the engine of some of the workload. The result is a vehicle that performs like a traditional car with a smaller, more efficient engine. The hybrid car with the reputation for the most fuel economy is the Toyota Prius, which averages about 5.1 L/100km
But unless you’re motivated purely by environmental concern, fuel efficiency should not be the only consideration. Let’s look at the other costs or savings that apply to a hybrid.
While fuel efficiency is certainly a strong selling point for hybrids these days, that has to be weighed against the purchase price. The hybrid is a more expensive vehicle than its conventionally-powered counterpart. Even the least expensive hybrids start at $27,000 (for a Toyota Camry Hybrid or Honda Civic Hybrid). It will require a number of years for a hybrid buyer to recover their upfront costs.
As part of its goal of one in every 20 vehicles on the road being a hybrid by 2020, the Ontario government has been offering since 2010 an incentive program for consumers buying a plug-in hybrid electric or battery-fueled car. The incentive applies only to new cars.
When comparing online quotes at the website Kanetix.ca for the Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid, it turns out there is no discernible trend in the insurance rates for hybrids. When compared to their gas-guzzling counterparts, hybrid vehicles are not consistently more or less expensive to insure.
However, some Canadian insurers do offer a discount for hybrid owners. The availability of this discount indicates that at least some insurers favour hybrid motorists as a low-risk group.
Hybrids are perceived to be high-maintenance vehicles. In fact, this may or may not be so. Regular preventative maintenance costs for hybrids are comparable to those for gas-powered cars. If, however, a hybrid has mechanical problems with the charging system, this could be costly.
To counter the maintenance cost concern, some hybrid manufacturers offer warranties on their hybrid models that extend beyond the basic coverage. Toyota, for example, offers a 160,000 km warranty on their Prius and Highlander hybrid-related components.
In considering the cost implications of a hybrid with those of a conventional car, be sure to compare applies with apples. If you purchase an SUV-sized vehicle, no matter how fuel efficient it may be, it won’t match most of the conventional gasoline-powered sedans, simply due to their size, and the size of the engines.
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