Prius, once a green-statement in Silicon Valley and Hollywood, is now considered a practical car that happens to save gas (petrol) in the long run. More than efficiency, it is known for it’s outrageous design. However, lot of car buyers will give that up for the sake of savings. If you do a quick math for Hybrid cars, facts tell us a very different story.
While “Will Electric cars save the world” is a question for another time, Hybrids definitely would not. While there are many Hybrid hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs, Prius is among the most fuel-efficient cars you can get in the US. So without wasting any further time, lets go and do the math if Prius can actually save you any money.
Platform, Comfort, NVH levels, Power, Appearance
Toyota MC platform is shared between Corolla and Prius. Its not just the chassis, the horsepower & torque curves are very similar. Talk about comfort and NVH (noise levels) in cabin are also very comparable. While some will argue that any car looks better than a Prius (maybe Nissan Leaf is uglier?), but we’ll safely assume that Prius 2017 looks not better than Corolla.
Let’s start by comparing the prices for base-models: Corolla: $18,500 & Prius $23,500 i.e. a premium of $5,000 for getting a hybrid. How long will it take to break-even? For that let’s first consider their MPG numbers (miles per gallon).
Corolla (base engine): 30 city, 40 highway. Combined: 35mpg. Real-world: 33mpg
Prius 2017 (most efficient model): 58 city, 53 highway. Combined: 55mpg. Real-world: 50mpg
Taking the national average gasoline price of $2.4 per gallon, you’ll have to drive 200,000 miles to break-even.
(Here’s the math: (200000/33)*2.4 – (200000/50)*2.4 = $4945)
If you happen to live in states where gas is expensive e.g. California: $2.7 per gallon, it will take a little less to get there.
An average American drives 12k miles every year. At that pace, it will take 16.6 years to break-even. Let’s for a second assume that your Prius is still in working condition after 16 years. By the time you reach 200k mileage, your battery would’ve run out of its charging cycles at least thrice (best case scenario). If you add the extra maintenance of Electric motors and batteries, you’ll never ever break-even.
So there you have it: Prius will never save you ANY money.
Verdict: Life is too short to waste time on boring cars, get something that excites you.