Why I Didn't Buy a Hybrid

| 2 Comments

As you may or may not recall, I had ordered a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid from my local dealer back in April, but it never arrived. Ford instead randomly selected 5 people from the 50 who had placed orders with the dealer, rather than taking names in order (we were the first on the list). At any rate, we've had a change of mind on the subject, and here's why.

1) Monthly Cost: By buying a Ford Escape instead of an Escape Hybrid, we're paying about $265/month less over 60 months. At $5/gal, that would be 53 gallons of gas per MONTH that I'd have to use in the non-hybrid in order to break even. That would be a lot of driving, and we simply do not plan to use this vehicle as our primary around-town car. (I recall doing a post on this a while back, but I can't find it now. Maybe someone will remember my chart and its associated post.)

2) Sticker Cost: We looked at a couple used Escape Hybrids at the dealer on Saturday before settling on the non-hybrid choice. The dealer is paying more than the original sticker price to bring these things into the region, where demand is through the roof. A used 2008 Escape Hybrid with nearly 15k miles was stickered at $35k and there would be no budging on that price. A slightly more appointed 2008 Escape Hybrid on the lot with around 25k miles was listed for even more. MSRP on these would have been in the $30-34k range a 12-18 months ago.

3) Total Cost of Ownership: I learned that for new Ford vehicles you can buy a maintenance plan up front that covers all regularly scheduled maintenance for x years up to y miles. In my case, $1390 gives me 6 years or 97,500 miles, which covers oil changes, brake jobs, transmission service, tire rotation/balance, power steering service, etc, etc, etc. Considering I spent about $800 this year alone on my Civic for the 50k miles service, I see a lot of value in that package. Ford has offered this service as a relatively cheap way to increase customer satisfaction and, ultimately, customer retention. At the same time, it lowers my TCO.

2 Comments

But... You didn't take into account the tax credit in your post. :)

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax_hybrid.shtml

Coming from a former "Chat'er" I know this was discussed a few times "Inside". The last point I made in the thread was that most people are less concerned today about the actual environmental impact, and more so on their pockets. With gas spinning out of control a few short months ago people were now considering hybrids for the cost savings, not the environment. At some level I think it's slightly sad, but #1 comes first right? It's hard not to see past the $$$ sometimes.

Me? I'll never buy an American made car for the rest of my life... Beyond all of the Deming process (a big reason why Japanese quality far surpasses American), I feel like American manufacturers are not innovative nor have alternative options at all on the radar. Sure, they put out a few E85 and hybrid vehicles, but for the most part the TCO and experience of driving a Japanese made car vs one built here holds no comparison in my mind. Realize that I am somewhat of a perfectionist though which is a big reason I can never get past the build quality...

But, interesting post none the less! :)

Just for reference my first Japanese product was a 1995 Civic in college. I had it for 4 years and put roughly 80k miles on it during that time. Traded it in for my much lusted after WRX in 2005 with 150k on it. I ended up getting $2500 for it at the time and outside of routine maintenance (synthetic oil -- why haven't 99% of people figured this one out?, tires and brakes) I had only one component on the vehicle fail -- which was an ignition coil. Cost to fix: $80 + 1 hour of my time. Now that's TCO and a great user experience.

--windexh8er

You're sort of right. The tax credit is only valid for *new* hybrids, so it wouldn't apply for used ones, and as of right now there's no indication we would have received our '09 in '08, after which the Ford tax credit expires (Toyota's have already expired). Still, a $2000 tax credit over 60 months is about $33, which still doesn't make fiscal sense. :)

I've generally agreed with your assessment of American cars, being a past and current Honda owner. However, the current crop of Hondas are not terribly inspiring and the sales service in the are has been absolutely terrible. Nonetheless, we plan to keep our '04 Civic (4dr) until we have run it into the ground. :)

As for Ford, I spent $1390 on a 6 years 97,500 mile maintenance plan that covers all regularly scheduled maintenance, including transmission, brakes, etc. Combined with the warranty (standard and extended), we're looking at about $3k additional cost to have almost no out-of-pocket on the vehicle for the next 6 years. After that, I'm fairly confident that this Duratec engine will hold up assuming no major abuse.

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