Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Message for "Green" Auto Buyers

From this paper:
[T]he Honda Accord Hybrid has an Energy Cost per Mile of $3.29 while the conventional Honda Accord is $2.18. Put simply, over the “Dust to Dust” lifetime of the Accord Hybrid, it will require about 50 percent more energy than the non-hybrid version.

One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package. And while many consumers and environmentalists have targeted sport utility vehicles because of their lower fuel economy and/or perceived inefficiency as a means of transportation, the energy cost per mile shows at least some of that disdain is misplaced.

For example, while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 cents per mile, the Hummer H3 (among most SUVs) was only $1.949 cents per mile. That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile.

“If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high-fuel-economy vehicles.... But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost ... more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime.

“...Basing purchase decisions solely on fuel economy or vehicle size does not get to the heart of the energy usage issue.”

More generally, as I say here:
All costs matter; one cannot make good economic decisions by focusing on one type of cost, such as the cost of energy.