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Are hybrid cars worth the extra cost?

By Lauren Leisk, Yahoo!7 Moneyhound Updated July 10, 2013, 8:00 am

If you're considering buying a new car, you'll want to know if a hybrid or electric car is worth the investment.

Fuel for thought: Will a greener choice save you any money, or for that matter, make the world any greener?

As fuel prices spike and transport costs increase, the economics behind hybrid or electric cars is sure to be questioned in 2013.

For those looking at vehicle upgrades this year, electric car shopping might be an expedition you didn’t see coming. Or perhaps you already expected everyone to be silently whirring around the streets this far into the 2000s.

The fact is that many electric car consumers already are. But as an alternative to your old gas-guzzler, how easy is the electric car on our hip pockets?

Are we buying electric cars?

The 2012 statistics are a resounding yes. Sales figures from Toyota show the company’s hybrid vehicles passed four million sales globally early in 2012. In Australia, more than 40,000 Toyota and Lexus hybrids have been sold since 2001.

In 2011, only 2212 of the hybrid cars sold in Australia went to private buyers, while the remaining 8820 went to fleet sales.

However, in 2012, Honda made history by boasting more than one million hybrid green car sales in a single calendar year for the first time. Not to be outdone, Toyota soon announced the same milestone.

Toyota’s flagship hybrid vehicle, the Prius, became so popular in 2012 that it is expected to make up more than three-quarters of total Toyota hybrid sales.

Compare: Top 10 car loans for car financing to find the lowest rates

Do the sums on hybrid consumers

Running costs of an electric vehicle are about 70 to 80 per cent less than their petrol-powered counterparts. Replacement batteries need to be taken into account, however, and require replacing every five to 10 years.

Related: Do 'green' cars save us any money?

On-road hybrid car results

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian passenger vehicles travel around 38kms a day. Most electric cars would need to hit the recharging station every fourth day. One report of hybrid mileage includes the 2011 Honda Civic, boasting an average of 4.6 litres/100km – that’s 5.2L/100km for city mileage, and 4.3L/100km for highway mileage.

Car reviews: Read car reviews at Carsales.com.au

Is depreciation putting you off the hybrid car?

You may need to realistically do the sums for depreciation on your own vehicle before scoffing at those for the hybrids. But when you do, compare the results to the $40,000 Prius. A five-year-old Prius might fetch you $20,000 back, but how much did you lose when you drove your gas-guzzler off the floor? You may be surprised.

Related: Buying a new vs. used car, pros and cons

Are we benefiting from hybrid cars?

According to Toyota announcements, worldwide sales of the company’s hybrid cars have contributed to a reduction in CO2 production of around 30 million tonnes, while also saving around 11 million litres of petrol.

However it really depends on if the electricity you'll putting into it is coming from a green and clean sustainable source. Using coal fired electricity to power your electric car instead of petrol just means that we are robbing Peter (of CO2 emissions) to pay Paul.

Related: 50 Ways to cut your power bills. Yes, fifty.

Whether you are hanging out for better electric options or eagerly diving into this sea of green, there’s no disputing that petrol prices will keep rising. As the cost of electric batteries continues to decrease, the hybrid movement is about to get more interesting.

Looking to finance a car loan? Moneyhound compares car loans so you can find the lowest rate in the market.

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