All Green Cars are Not Created Equal

It is pretty much anticipated that over the next 20 years everyone will be considering a green car!  As more variety and styles become available more people are taking the leap over to the green-side!   Do green cars make sense – dollars and cents?

Jessica Anderson is an associate editor for autos at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

“It’s kind of a mixed bag depending on which green car you buy,” she says. “You may end up saving more money than the gasoline version of the car or you may not.”

For its September issue, Kiplinger ran the numbers – the cost of ownership for the average driver over a five-year period. The question: do the fuel savings make up for the higher sticker price of a green vehicle.

“We figure five years is enough because it’s the typical length of ownership for most people, and if you haven’t seen your gas savings by five years, you’re probably going to be very frustrated,” says Anderson.

She says they were surprised at how well the two electric vehicles, the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf did when compared to the closest gas-powered match. They compared the Volt with the Chevy Cruze LTZ and the Nissan Leaf SV with the Nissan Versa S Hatchback.

“And while both of them cost about $18,000 more than the gasoline models, the Volt comes within $1,500 of Cruze’s ownership costs over five years, and the Leaf is only $800 more than a Versa over five years because they do save so much,” Anderson says.

Hybrids are the most popular green machines. They do cut gas use. They are good for the environment. But what about your pocketbook? Anderson says they’re all over the place – depending on the model.

“You can be getting a really great deal like the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid. It’s actually the cheapest S-class that you can buy. And you save about $7,000 over five years. Conversely, another popular model, the Lexus LS600 hybrid, it costs more than $36,000 more than its gasoline counterpart and you lose all of that. It does not save money over the gasoline engine.”

After looking at all the numbers, Anderson tells me the decision whether to buy a green vehicle has a lot to do with what you want.

“If your goal is to be good to the environment, the premium and the savings is not going to be something that is ultimately a make-or-break situation for you. But if your goal is to save money, run the numbers, really do as much as you can to find out about the long-term costs because some of the green cars will save you a lot and some of them really won’t.”

Make sure to do your research and find not only a car that will help the planet stay green, but one you will enjoy driving!

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