The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Vehicles
In a previous article, we discussed the various different types of hybrids, how they operate, and how they differ from one another. In this article, we’ll dive into some of the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid vehicles as it relates to your fleet.
Pro: Fuel Savings
One of the most obvious benefits of acquiring hybrid vehicles is reduced fuel costs. The impressive fuel economy numbers boasted by hybrid vehicles are attractive to those who spend a lot of time in their vehicles. More so, the fact that hybrid vehicles can often operate solely on battery power at lower speeds helps save even more fuel for anyone who regularly suffer the unpleasantness of bumper-to-bumper traffic on their daily commute.
But how much could a hybrid vehicle save you? Let’s use the 2018 Toyota Camry LE as an example. According to FuelEconomy.gov, the combined MPG for that vehicle is 32 miles per gallon. Compare that to the 2018 Toyota Camry LE Hybrid where the combined MPG is 52 miles per gallon. Assuming an annual mileage of 20,000 and a fuel price of $3.00, the hybrid vehicle will save $722 per year. Extrapolate that over the number of vehicles in your fleet and you could be looking at quite large savings.
Pro: Improved Corporate Image
Another benefit of acquiring hybrid vehicles is the boost that they can provide to your company’s corporate image. We live in an age where topics such as global warming and carbon footprints are often discussed on the nightly news. The federal government has even taken notice as legislation surrounding required fuel economy gets crafted and implemented. With such visibility on the topic, fleets that elect to introduce alternatives such as hybrid and electric vehicles into their business are seen as environmentally responsible and forward thinking. Embracing alternative fuel vehicles is good for your brand and gives your company another piece of positive news to market.
Con: Acquisition Cost
One of the main drawbacks of hybrid vehicles is that they tend to be more expensive than their gasoline-only counterparts. This often serves as a barrier for entry to a lot of fleets as the increased cost simply isn’t justified by any potential savings in fuel. Let’s look at the same 2018 Toyota Camry LE and LE Hybrid from the example above. The standard gasoline model of that vehicle invoices for approximately $23,000. The LE Hybrid model invoices for just over $26,600. That’s a difference of $3,600. Based on the fuel savings we calculated of $722 annually, it would take nearly 5 years for the fuel savings to equal out with the increased purchase price. Since many companies prefer to cycle their vehicles every 2-4 years, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to opt for the hybrids.
Additionally, while in the past there used to be significant federal and state incentives for purchasing hybrid vehicles, those typically now only apply to plug-in and electric vehicles. Standard hybrid vehicles oftentimes no longer qualify.
Con: Lack of Infrastructure
This applies more to plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, but is worth discussing. While the advent of Tesla and their supercharger network has certainly help spur along the infrastructure needed to support plug-in vehicles, the fact remains that for many drivers, they are not quite there yet. Oftentimes, fleet drivers are covering large territories on tight schedules. Plug-in hybrids require the added burden of planning your route around available charging stations. While most plug-in hybrid vehicles can be charged on nearly any electrical outlet, the size of the outlet is going to determine the speed at which the vehicle charges. Unlike a standard gasoline vehicle where a fill-up takes a couple minutes at most, plug-in vehicles are going to require a much longer period ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to multiple hours. That’s a lot of wasted time that could be better spent elsewhere.