Yesterday I concluded that purchasing a Toyota Corolla was the most economically efficient decision given my circumstances. However, I also suggested that it still might make sense to purchase a Prius under certain conditions.
It turns out that buying a Prius makes sense if I were to use the vehicle for 20,000 or more miles annually, and if gasoline prices remained at or above $4.00. The following table shows the time to breakeven in years for a Prius at various gas prices and annual miles. The chart highlights the results in yellow when the time to breakeven is less than 10 years.
It never makes sense to purchase a Tesla Roadster.
It is important to note that this analysis assumes a constant marginal electricity cost of $0.40 per kWh
It also makes never makes sense to buy a Chevy Volt.
To be fair, my analysis assumes that I will always use both gas and electricity to power the Volt. However, it does not account for any behavioral changes associated with higher gas prices. For instance, once gasoline prices reach a certain point, users will stop using gasoline and, instead, rely entirely on battery power by limiting their average distance per trip to remain in electric-only mode. I may include this important nuance in future analyses for the Volt so that my conclusions are a bit more realistic.
The Nissan Leaf has the most binary outcome.
At low gas prices, the Leaf never breaks even. However, at extremely high gasoline prices, it takes fewer than two years to cover the price premium one pays for the Leaf relative to a Toyota Corolla.
Again, this is not the end of the story.
Tomorrow, I will run the numbers for a range of gasoline and electricity prices.
Click here for the next installment of this series.