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Survey Finds US Hybrids and Diesels Beat Gasoline Models on Full Cost of Ownership

An survey finds that most 2009 US hybrid and clean diesel cars, trucks and SUVs deliver a lower total cost of ownership compared to gasoline versions of the same (or comparable) vehicles.

The 2009 Hybrid and Diesel Car survey explores the value of all 2009 model year hybrids and, for the first time, vehicles with clean diesel engines, by evaluating the major factors that determine a vehicle’s cost of ownership over a five year period or 70,000 miles: fuel; maintenance and repair; retained value; insurance; and taxes and licensing fees.

Of the 51 hybrid and clean diesel models now on the market, 35 of them deliver a cost-of-ownership that is somewhat or significantly lower than gasoline versions of the same vehicle. The long-time knock against “green” cars, trucks and SUVs is that their sticker prices do not justify the gas savings. The point we make is that it is not just about fuel. Buyers also need to consider costs such as maintenance and resale value.

—James Bell, editor of

The 2009 Hybrid and Diesel Car Survey compares hybrid and clean diesel vehicles against their gas-powered counterparts in the five cost of ownership categories—e.g., the Ford Escape Hybrid is compared against the conventional, gasoline-fueled Ford Escape.

Among the top-level conclusions of the survey:

  • Clean diesel technology, in its first year of wide availability in the US, poses the first significant challenge to hybrid dominance. Clean diesels are generally priced at a lower premium and still offer significant fuel economy.

  • “Green” vehicles hold their value better than traditional cars, trucks and SUVs. Most alternative-fuel vehicles have a retained value four to five percent better than traditional vehicles, though some hybrids and clean diesels, such at the Prius and Jetta TDI, are dramatically higher.

  • Tax credits matter. Of the 50 alternative-fuel vehicles in this year’s survey, 34 have a lower overall Cost of Ownership compared to traditional or gasoline-only vehicles. This number drops to 23 without the Hybrid Tax rebate, concentrated primarily among small cars and sedans.

  • Alternative-fuel vehicles provide a strong hedge against a jump in fuel prices. If gas goes up to an average of $4.00 per gallon, 41 of the 50 alternative-fuel vehicles in the survey would have a lower overall Cost of Ownership compared to the gas-powered version of the same vehicle, assuming the other ownership costs stay the same. In addition, as fuel costs go up, hybrids and clean diesels tend to see an increase in retained value.



The Goracle

Clean diesels are generally priced at a lower premium and still offer significant fuel economy.

Yes, significant in that diesels get BETTER mileage than hybrids. Significant. Plus hybrids destroy the environment due to the manufacturing and mining process for the battery packs. And good luck paying for the replacement battery pack. Many cost more than an engine replacement.


This is a bit sudden.

Or because this is a survey, not a study, am I missing something?

What's survey mean?

If this is true, the "smart money" as well as those who ape them, will turn to hybrids and diesels, en masse.

Our worries are over.

Surely the increased demand will not drive prices up for long. I can buy a hybrid without feeling like I bought a toy.

I can buy one and save all around.

- If this is true.

I smell a rat. It's too sudden.

Who are these people; IntelliChoice?


Diesels and hybrids may have a greater sticker price but they also have better residuals as well, in terms of less depreciation.

Much is dependant on the price of fuel. Last year for example, the price of diesel in the UK nudged £1.36 per litre ($10.33 per US Gallon based on the $2 exchange rate at the time), whilst gasoline was £1.16 ($8.81 per US gallon) - a big difference due to wholesale fuel costs and, in the UK, extortionate tax levels (which have increased since for government budget, not environmental reasons - i.e. greenwashing). This meant that diesel was not competitive. Diesel prices in the UK are now at parity with gasoline, both at £1.03 per litre (now $6.60 per US gallon). This makes our 1997 Audi A6 2.5 TDi, which can reach highway milages of 50 mpg(US), much more attractive to use for roadtrips than our 1999 1.8T gasoline Passat which gets up to 36 mpg(US) highway mileage.

My next car will be a Diesel, not a hybrid, as the claimed mpg figures aren't usually borne out in everyday driving compared to conventional diesel engines, not to mention more weight, less power and having something that looks pretty ugly and has that 'smugmobile - look at me i'm saving the planet' image.


The big problem has been that few diesel vehicles were available to US consumers in recent years because of stringent environmental rules particularly in California and certain Northeastern States.


Goracle, you are such a troll.

Never heard a positive or introspective idea from your postings. Batteries do not have to have a deterimental effect if the proper procedures are put in to handle them. Lead batteries are taken care of quite well and have a high rate of recycling. By attacking batteries, you are also attacking EV's. Battery packs have come down significantly in price and virtually all of them are covered. I've read a person doing his own insight battery replacement for only around $400.

Diesels have problems as well. There are particulate studies that show they increase certain health problems. Diesel is a higher energy content fuel. That is why it gets a higher mileage but it comes at a cost of producing less gallons of diesel for every barrel of oil.

Lastly quantitative comments like a hybrids ugliness do nothing. Looks are personal. They aren't general. And claiming what other people feel is more projection than reality. Big cars and trucks were smug too for some people. Just in a more selfish manner. People with strong feelings are more willing to invest in the price differential and pay the opportunity cost and likely have strong feelings associated with the purchase. Its not an absolute and as the price goes down and become more mainstream, they will likely exhibit the standard feelings.


My monthly driving miles are 90% city and 10% highway. 10% of that route is up and down hills of which at least one is an 1/8th mile 65-80% grade. With my particular situation, diesel would be terrible and hybrid would be the only reasonable vehicle.

...of course I still drive a 10yr old gasoline vehicle I bought brand new, but if I do get a new vehicle it will be a hybrid because I just hate burning up my brakes and throwing away all the energy expending ascending that hill.


Oops i meant qualitative not quantitative. Qualitative is subjective, quantitative is measurable. Hence my dislike like smug or ugly or whatever which are subjective evaluations.

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