Hybrid cars – should you buy or sell?
Looking for your next car might not be as easy as you first think, there used to be two choices, petrol or diesel, but nowadays with the advent of electric vehicles, you could be left wondering, should I buy or sell a hybrid?
After dieselgate, the world scrambled to find a cleaner alternative, there were a few hybrid vehicles on the market, Toyota’s Prius being the dominant force.
But since then the choice has exploded, manufacturers have either hybridised their whole range or have niches within their product line up to cater for hybrid buyers.
Hybrids offer a small amount of battery power which works in conjunction with the petrol engine to increase your miles per gallon by saving fuel.
It does this by taking over the running of most of the auxiliary power whenever it can, things like the radio, heating, power steering and even starting the car can be done via the hybrid battery.
Alongside that, every hybrid has a motor built into the drivetrain. This works at any speed and will take over whenever it can. It’s especially helpful in stop-start traffic when you’re often crawling along at a slow pace.
Under braking you’ll also recover energy from slowing down, this is because the motor is typically run in reverse acting as a brake and a generator at the same time.
This also means that brake wear is far less on hybrid vehicles.
But should you buy or sell a hybrid car? How do they compare to their petrol and diesel counterparts?
Buying and selling hybrid cars explained:
- Should I buy or sell a hybrid car?
- When does a hybrid car make sense?
- Should I sell my hybrid car?
- Are hybrid cars cheaper to run?
- What hybrid taxes are there?
- Will hybrid cars be banned?
- Making a final decision on buying or selling a hybrid car
Should I buy or sell a hybrid car?
Hybrids often make far more sense than diesel or even a pure electric vehicle. The reason for this comes down to the initial outlay, mainly how much they cost.
There are now quite a few manufacturers who have hybridised their entire line up, that means there’s little extra cost when choosing the hybrid option.
Comparing them to EV’s they’re substantially cheaper, and you don’t have the issue of worrying about where to charge if you get desperate when out and about.
You also often pay a premium for diesel engine cars, traditionally they were seen as being more efficient and giving higher miles per gallon, so that cost you extra at the dealership.
Comparing hybrids to diesels you find that they’re either on par, or a hybrid will cost a little more depending on what manufacturer you’re looking at.
As hybrids become more commonplace, their prices will fall further.
If you commute in stop-start traffic, you’re more likely see a benefit from owning a hybrid than if you were commuting up and down the motorway every day.
While hybrids have closed the gap when it comes to higher speed frugality, they still can’t match diesel on this particular factor.
When does a hybrid car make sense?
This is a tricky question, as arguably a hybrid car can make sense in every scenario, but let’s have a more in-depth look into the different situations and why a hybrid can be a great option.
Hybrids for urban driving
Hybrids are often at their best during slow, stop-start traffic – that’s why London’s Uber drivers all use Hybrid cars like the Prius. The low speeds mean the hybrid can kick in often, and many hybrids can be driven on pure electric alone.
You will, however, deplete the battery quicker because the petrol engine isn’t on and charging up the pack.
Hybrids for high speed, motorway driving
In this setting, hybrids will be less efficient in terms of MPG saved, they will, however, give you a nice healthy electric nudge when you need to overtake.
This makes them more efficient than a petrol or diesel which you’d have to rev harder to make that same manoeuvre.
Hybrids can also help you keep pace at higher speeds, you can often find the motors cutting in and out at speeds of 50 – 60 MPH.
Should I sell my hybrid car?
If you’re thinking about owning a hybrid or already do, then it’s worth taking into account its resale value and depreciation, also in recent times, we’ve seen how dramatically used car prices can fall with a change of opinion or bad news story.
It’s always a good idea to get a car valuation, just so you know if there are any outstanding amounts if you were to hand the car back earlier under a finance agreement, or if you’re in negative equity when it comes to a personal loan.
How fast do hybrids depreciate?
Unlike electric cars, which can hold their value or even see increases depending on where the car market is heading, as a result hybrid vehicles don’t really benefit from the same effects.
A brand new Hyundai Ioniq hybrid costs £22,785 in SE trim. You can find examples that are just a year old with 25,000 miles on the clock for around £14,000.
While that’s a superb 47.7% saving for a second-hand buyer, it’s not great if you’ve purchased your car outright and want to change to something else.
Plug-in hybrids score a little better, but not much. Taking the same Hyundai Ioniq as a benchmark, a new PHEV version costs £29,895. A used, year-old model with 25,000 miles under its belt is just £18,500, or 47% less than new.
Whether you purchased or financed your hybrid and how, determines whether now is the right time to sell.
Above all, you can see that hybrids depreciate as fast as any regular car, some brands fair slightly better, but on the whole, they plummet so it’s probably worth hanging on to you hybrid for as long as possible.
Remember that on average it takes five years or more to recoup the initial outlay in fuel savings for regular buyers.
Are hybrid cars cheaper to run?
Hybrids are always going to be more expensive to purchase than their regular petrol counterparts until everything is hybridised and the playing field is level.
As an example, let’s look at the current Toyota Yaris, you can pick either petrol only or hybrid, both have the same 1.5-litre petrol engine.
The automatic petrol-only model costs £17,770, add in the hybrid and the price rises to £19,340.
MPG for the petrol model is quoted at a minimum of 44.8, the hybrid is 56.4 (these are the new, real-world WLTP figures). That’s an increase of just 11.6 MPG.
Over a year, driving 10,000 miles, the petrol-only Yaris will cost you £1,258 with fuel costs of 124p per litre. Compare that to the hybrid and the cost of fuel per 10,000 miles is £1,010.
That’s a saving of just £248 a year. Meaning it will take you about six years and 60,000 miles to make up the £1,570 difference between the petrol and hybrid.
Hybrids won’t save you a fortune in the short term
The above example is between one of the cheapest hybrids on the market. Consequently in terms of a numbers game while you will save fuel, you won’t actually be saving any money until you’re into the sixth year.
Even at the best MPG for both vehicles (58.8 for the hybrid and 47 for the petrol) it would still take you just over six years to make the back the difference in fuel savings.
Therefore make sure you do the math before you commit. To work out if you’re better off you only need your average miles per year, the current cost per litre of fuel and the MPG of the hybrid you’re looking to buy.
Servicing costs tend to be the same as fossil-fuelled cars, but you will probably need to change your brake discs and pads less as the regenerative braking lightens the load when coming to a stop.
So, while a hybrid may well be cheaper to run because they’ll save you fuel, it’s not a massive amount in the grand scheme of things. Are you really going to notice £250 over the cost of a year’s motoring?
What hybrid taxes are there?
Hybrids used to get away with £0 road tax, but that changed in 2017 and means that only pure electric vehicles pay no road tax.
If your hybrid costs over £40,000 you’ll have to pay the vehicle ‘premium tax’ which has to be paid from the second year to the sixth at a rate of £320 a year.
Standard road tax is £135 a year for all alternatively fuelled vehicles under £40,000, they’re granted a £10 a year reduction compared to fossil-fuelled cars.
In London, your hybrid needs to emit less than 75g/km to be Congestion Charge free.
Will hybrid cars be banned?
There’s been a lot of scaremongering relating to the ban of petrol and diesel cars in the next few decades.
The UK wants to ban all sales of new fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2040, this means the car market will probably switch to at least some mild form of hybridisation to skirt around this blanket ban.
Currently, there are no plans to ban hybrid cars in the UK.
Making a final decision on buying or selling a hybrid car
Hybrid cars aren’t the magic fuel-saving bullet you’re always led to believe, as we demonstrated above they require a significant commitment to reap the savings they can offer.
You either need cover a lot of around-town miles or just be invested in producing less CO2. Sadly, when cost comes into that argument, many just end up buying petrol.
Going down the used hybrid car route can make much more sense, hybrids often fall to within a few hundred pounds of their petrol counterparts on the second-hand market.
Higher mileage examples will also help narrow the difference.
Is a hybrid not for you?
If you’ve decided that a hybrid car isn’t for you then take a look at our other guides, we look at both petrol, diesel and electric vehicles.