A study has revealed several trends among hybrid buyers that imply hybrids may entice their owners to drive more, that hybrid owners receive more traffic tickets, and that repair costs are often significantly more expensive than conventional automobiles.
According to Quality Planning, the company that initiated the study, the cost of ownership of a hybrid vehicle is higher for multiple reasons, including two it claims are understudied: first, the driving behaviors of hybrid owners, and second, the cost of repairs.
The study found that the mileage for high-commute drivers--that is, drivers who commute more than 15 miles per day--was the same for hybrid and non-hybrid owners. But when taking into consideration everyday driving--what insurance companies call "pleasure driving"--the study found hybrid vehicle owners drive an average of 25 percent more than non-hybrid vehicle owners. That amounts to about 2000 miles.
"The additional miles driven by hybrid vehicle owners would seem to offset the net ecological benefit of owning a fuel-efficient vehicle. After all, a gallon of gas is a gallon of gas, no matter which type of engine is burning it," says Dr. Raj Bhat, the president of Quality Planning. "What we don't know is whether owning a hybrid vehicle encourages people to drive more miles each day or take more pleasure trips."
Quality Planning also found that collision coverage loss dollars and comprehensive coverage loss dollars were 13 and 17 percent higher, respectively, for hybrid vehicles than their non-hybrid counterparts. It cites the 2006 to 2008 Toyota Highlander and Ford Escape hybrids as specific vehicles with much higher collision losses than their non-hybrid alternatives--45 percent higher for the Highlander and 31 percent higher for the Escape.
Lastly, the study found that hybrid vehicle owners are more likely to receive a traffic ticket. Looking specifically at Toyota Prius drivers, Quality Planning found that Prius drivers get about 0.38 violations per 100,000 miles driven, about 65 percent more than the overall average of 0.23 violations. Quality Planning attributes this to the fact that drivers in urban areas--where hybrids are prevalent--generally receive more traffic citations.
Quality Planning sampled 359,309 vehicles from multiple manufacturers. Only hybrids and their non-hybrid counterparts were used for the study.
Source: Quality Planning