Kelley Blue Books Says Now is the Best Time to Buy a Used Hybrid ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Kelley Blue Books Says Now is the Best Time to Buy a Used Hybrid

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kelley Blue Books Says Now is the Best Time to Buy a Used Hybrid

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) says now may be the best time ever to buy a used hybrid. That is, if your intent is to reduce emissions and greenhouse gases, but not necessarily if you want savings at the pump.

Used hybrid car prices have started to normalize, as consumers have more choices than ever. That means the appreciation of comparable segments have outpaced hybrid cars in the past year.

New hybrid sales are down (mostly due to the spike from the Cash for Clunkers program) and values have leveled off. Along with steady gas prices (higher gas prices mean more hybrids sold), more cars are getting 40+ mpg. That means there is more competition in the fuel efficient segment.

Put it all together and you get a good time to buy a used hybrid, although not necessarily if you're looking to buy a Prius (see below).  And consumers may be catching on.  Monthly traffic at Kelley Blue Book has increased by 10-20 percent.

"If shoppers are convinced to buy a hybrid today, they should keep in mind that it can take upwards of 10 years to recover the premium paid for a hybrid versus a comparable non-hybrid alternative (based on $3 per gallon fuel prices and 12,000 miles driven per year)," said Juan Flores, director of vehicle valuations for Kelley Blue Book. "For those consumers considering a hybrid purchase purely to save money, they must consider how long they intend to hold the vehicle."

KBB points out that the hybrid premium can take years to 'pay off'.

According to their analysis, "If a consumer were to consider a new vehicle, the time needed to recoup the hybrid premium is more than 10 years. A driver would have to rack up 160,000 miles on a Prius, or more than 190,000 miles on a Civic Hybrid, before simply breaking even on their hybrid purchase! If a consumer were wise enough to purchase a used hybrid vehicle, the time needed to break-even falls substantially. For the Civic Hybrid, the break-even point is realized just shy of five years down the road as opposed to the sixteen years required for a new purchase. This would require only 57,600 miles to be driven before the hybrid premium was recovered. This seems quite reasonable and this kind of mileage should be easily handled by the Civic. For those in the market for a hybrid vehicle, Kelley Blue Book's best recommendation is to consider buying a used vehicle first."

When buying used, consumers should consider purchasing the hybrid alternative of an existing nameplate as opposed to an all-hybrid vehicle like the Prius, since it takes twice as long to recover the hybrid premium for a Prius as opposed to a Honda Civic Hybrid in the used market. Over time, the Prius has acquired a large following that has lead to what is called a "Prius Premium," in addition to the already costly hybrid premium. By sticking to a hybrid vehicle built off an existing platform (Civic Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, etc.) a consumer has a far better chance of coming out ahead on the purchase of a hybrid vehicle.

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