When it comes to cutting through all the bulls--t, there is no one better for the job than a nerd. With all the recent interest in hybrid cars due to the price of gasoline, I've heard a lot of chatter about the economics of owning a hybrid. NPR, Nightly Business Report (NBR?), Slate are a few amoung many new outlets talking about the savings (or lack thereof) when switching to hybrids. But who can really trust these media points whose conservative bias and liberal pandering cloud the analytic judgement as they slave for ratings. We really need to hear this from a nerd.
And the nerds have heeded our calls. Omninerd has posted what I perceive as the most thorough analysis of hybrid economics on the web today. Seriously good stuff here. I was always continuously frustrated by people comparing the Prius to a Corolla. The Corolla is a piece of s--t (I kinda like dashing out cuss words, as if you don't know what I'm saying) and one of the lightest cars on the road today, so of course it is cheap and gets better than average gas mileage... in my mind an unfair measuring stick. Omninerd compares multiple hybrids to regular cars across the board. They even consider the costs of loans, the economics of trade-ins, and driving habits for pete's sake (who's pete?) and really boil it down to what would it cost per month. Nice work all-in-all.
A Slashdot post made the results sound like bad news for hybrid fans. My initial reaction to the post was of course hybrids are not economically justified on the gas mileage. If they were, car makers would be giving away the green premium they can charge for them. Hybrids will never be this way until the general public's willingness to pay (...okay the green public's willingness to pay) is based solely on MPG. (Incidentally, the Slashdot posting cause so much traffic to the Omninerd site that the nice graphics in the article were taken down for a period of time last week.)
However, after reading the article I see hope in the nerdy analysis. There are choices for which the hybrid is economically better. In this graphic, Omninerd does the data a disservice by showing the Net Monthly Savings as a negative number. One would have to read a bit to understand that he is comparing a 1999 already owned Accord to buying a new car. Looking closely you can see that if you were comparing a 2006 Toyota Camry with a 2006 Toyota Prius, the Prius is actually more economical. I understand that many would object to compaing these two different "classes" of cars, but to me this shows that the economic divide is not so large as some imply. At any rate, hybrids will remain more expensive as long as people are willing to pay that much.
Now your job is to cut through my bulls--t and make your own conclusions. Be secure that you are backed by a nerd.