Green Car Payback: When Will I Break Even?

Depending on the price of the car and the cost of gas, investing in a green car may pay off faster than you think. Check out this chart to find out the green car payback for several of today's leading models. 

GUIDE TO GREEN CARS, Summer 2012

By Jim Motavalli and Tabitha Alterman 

Find additional details about green car payback, including information about how to calculate your own, in The Green Car Payback Question.

Green Car 

Comparable Model  

How Long Will It Take to Break Even if Gas Costs ... 

Mitsubishi-I-160-100 

Mitsubishi i (Electric)
112 MPGe - $22,475

Mitsubishi-Lancer-160-100 

Mitsubishi Lancer GT
26 MPG - $21,640

      $3: 7.8 months
      $4: 5.7 months
      $5: 4.4 months
      $6: 3.7 months

Nissan-Leaf-160-100 

Nissan Leaf SV (Electric)
99 MPGe - $28,550

Nissan-Altima-160-100 

Nissan Altima 2.5 S
27 MPG - $23,490

      $3: 4.4 years
      $4: 3.2 years
      $5: 2.4 years
      $6: 2 years

Ford-Fusion-Hybrid-160-100 

Ford Fusion Hybrid
39 MPG - $29,495

Ford-Fusion-S-160-100 

Ford Fusion S
26 MPG - $22,495

      $3: 12.1 years
      $4: 9.1 years
      $5: 7.3 years
      $6: 6.1 years

Honda-Civic-Hybrid-160-100 

Honda Civic Hybrid
44 MPG - $26,020

Honda-Civic-HF 

Honda Civic HF
33 mpg - $20,225

      $3: 17 years
      $4: 12.8 years
      $5: 10.2 years
      $6: 8.5 years

 Toyota-Camry-Hybrid-LE 

Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
41 MPG - $26,660

Toyota-Camry-LE 

Toyota Camry LE
28 MPG - $23,260

      $3: 6.7 years
      $4: 5 years
      $5: 4 years
      $6: 3.3 years

 Toyota-Prius160-100 

Toyota Prius
50 MPG - $24,760

 Toyota-Corolla-LE-160-100 

Toyota Corolla LE
29 MPG - $18,670

      $3: 9.3 years
      $4: 7 years
      $5: 5.6 years
      $6: 4.7 years

Our Assumptions

  • The figures for mpg are city/highway combined.
  • Annual fuel costs assume 15,000 miles driven, with a ratio of 45 percent highway/55 percent city driving.
  • Electric car prices include the current $7,500 federal tax credit.
  • All vehicle prices combine the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the destination fee.
  • For the sake of comparison, we have assumed that electricity rates will rise in tandem with gas prices, and that if gas costs $4/gallon, then electricity costs $0.12/kilowatt-hour (kwh); if gas is $5/gallon, then electricity is $0.14/kwh; and finally, if gas is $6/gallon, electricity is $0.16/kwh.

 

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