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 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. 


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 (Electric)
112 MPGe - $22,475


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 SV (Electric)
99 MPGe - $28,550


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
39 MPG - $29,495


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
44 MPG - $26,020


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
41 MPG - $26,660


Toyota Camry LE
28 MPG - $23,260

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


Toyota Prius
50 MPG - $24,760


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.


Post a comment below.


6/22/2012 4:31:43 PM
I'd be curious to see how much each of the cars will save you on gas per year, or month, versus how much a typical loan for the car would cost per year or month. Instead of comparing the cars to a specific car, you could have a comparison to a few different gas mileages - i.e. the Prius would save you $xxx/month compared to a car that gets 18, 22, 26, 30, and 34 mpg. That would make it even easier to compare each green car to any car you might buy.

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