Hybrid cars – should you sell?

    With the announcement that the ban on sales of new fossil fuel cars, including some hybrids, is now scheduled for 2035, you could be left wondering, should I sell my hybrid now?

    After dieselgate, car owners globally scrambled to find a cleaner alternative. There were only a few hybrid vehicles on the market, Toyota’s Prius being the dominant force for decades.

    But since 2018, choice has exploded, and manufacturers have started producing more and more pure electric vehicles as technology and uptake have improved. The range of both hybrid and fully-electric cars on offer improves every month with many now popular on the used market.

    Should I sell A Hybrid Car
    The Prius was the first mainstream hybrid car, but the market now offers a huge range of EV models to suit every driver.

    Hybrids offer a varying amount of battery power which works in conjunction with the petrol (or diesel) engine to increase your miles per gallon by saving fuel.

    Hybrids are a middle-ground between a fossil-fuelled car and a pure electric car, with plug-in hybrids adding even more EV-only practicality. They aren’t as green as they could be, though. They weigh a lot due to their combination of an engine, battery pack, and motors and the higher purchase cost can take years to recoup any fuel savings. Depending on how much it costs you to fill the tank and charge the battery, this could still be cheaper for you than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

    But should you sell a hybrid car? How do they compare to their petrol and diesel counterparts?

    Should I sell my hybrid car?

    1. Are hybrid cars better than petrol or diesel?
    2. Are hybrids better than fully-electric cars?
    3. When does a hybrid car make sense?
    4. When should I sell my hybrid car?
    5. Are hybrid cars cheaper to run?
    6. What hybrid taxes are there?
    7. Will hybrid cars be banned?
    8. Making a final decision on buying or selling a hybrid car

    Are hybrid cars better than petrol or diesel?

    Hybrids are generally understood to be a better option than diesel vehicles which are understood to pose a public health risk – and, as such, are being phased out quicker than petrol engine cars.

    As for petrol, it’s worth switching to a hybrid model so that the polluting emissions are cut. Typically, the price of electricity is lower than the price of petrol, so plug-in hybrids can be cheaper to run, subject to fuel prices. 

    There are now quite a few manufacturers who have hybridised their entire line up, that means there’s little extra upfront cost when choosing the hybrid option.

    Hybrid Engine Bay showing HV cables.
    Cars with hybrid engines are selling in higher numbers than fully-electric EVs.

    You also often pay a premium for diesel engine cars, because traditionally they were seen as being more efficient and giving higher miles per gallon, so that cost you extra at the dealership.

    As hybrids become more commonplace, their prices will fall further. If you commute in stop-start traffic, you’re more likely to see a benefit from owning a hybrid than if you were commuting up and down the motorway every day.

    Road tax, emission zone charges, and congestion charges all have variable rates based on what fuel type your vehicle is, and they are also all subject to change. Going for a hybrid over a petrol or diesel vehicle is the smart choice when looking to reduce the number of zoning and tax charges you could be liable for.

    Are hybrids better than fully-electric cars?

    Comparing hybrids to full EVs, they have typically been substantially cheaper – although that is changing now that major car brands are electrifying their whole ranges. 

    Thanks to regenerative braking, many hybrids can remain charged by harnessing the energy released while you drive, so you don’t have to worry about finding a charge point.

    Some drivers are more comfortable in a hybrid than a fully-electric EV since it’s more familiar and there’s less risk of getting stuck without a charger. However, fully-electric vehicles can be much cheaper to run than hybrids based on the price of fuel, running costs, and the fact that they’re more lightweight than a hybrid. 

    When does a hybrid car make sense?

    This is a tricky question, because 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 at their best during slow, stop-start traffic – that’s why London’s Uber drivers tend to use hybrid cars like the Prius, if they’re not driving a Tesla.

    The low speeds of city driving means a plug-in hybrid can drive mostly on electricity, and barely use petrol.

    You will, however, deplete the battery quicker this way because the petrol engine isn’t on, so you’re not charging up the pack through regenerative braking.

    Hybrids for high speed, motorway driving

    In this setting, hybrids will be less efficient in terms of MPG saved. However, they will 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 own a hybrid then it’s worth taking into account its resale value and depreciation. 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 track your car valuation. You’ll know the ongoing worth of your hybrid, and will be able to gauge whether you’re in positive or negative equity on your finance agreement, if applicable.

    Most car buying sites including Motorway can give you an accurate estimated sale price with their valuation tools, so you have a realistic idea of what your car could sell for.

    How fast do hybrids depreciate?

    Unlike some electric cars, which can hold their value or even see increases depending on where the car market is heading, 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.

    Lower than the Toyota Prius on MPG the Hyundai Ioniq still offers a lot for the money.
    The Hyundai Ioniq is a good value option but won’t do as many miles per gallon as the Prius.

    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 your 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 still typically sold at a higher price point than their petrol counterparts. 

    For example, the VW Golf in the Style trim is available as a petrol engine car or a plug-in hybrid. A side-by-side comparison shows exactly how this affects the car’s performance and efficiency.

    While the petrol option costs just over £27,000, the hybrid comes in at over £35,500. 

    The efficiency class of the hybrid is B, whereas for the petrol engine version it’s G.

    The hybrid achieves 314 MPG while the petrol engine clocks in just 51 – both the WLTP figures). 

    The petrol version also emits over six times more CO2 emissions than the hybrid. 

    The range of the hybrid when it runs on electricity alone is 43 miles, which for short city trips is fairly efficient. 

    Over a year, driving 10,000 miles, the petrol-only Golf will cost you £1,470 to run based on the price of 158p per litre of petrol.  

    Whereas, the hybrid can achieve the same range for just £239 in petrol costs.

    The Golf Style eHybrid has a 13kWh battery which can power the car for at least 43 miles on electricity alone, before the petrol engine kicks in. Normally, electricity is a much cheaper fuel than petrol, and, of course, full battery-electric vehicles have a much larger range than hybrids. 

    Using a standard three-pin plug would take about five hours to charge the car. A 7.4kWh charging point at home, like a wallbox, which costs about £1,000 to install, would take under four hours to charge. The car’s battery doesn’t have the capacity to support a special ‘rapid charger’. 

    Certain energy providers have an ‘off peak’ time during which it costs just 10p/kWh to charge your EV. So, charging up your battery to full range would cost just a couple of pounds; more if you’re charging it from a source set at the current electricity price cap of 34p/kWh. 

    The time it would take to account for the difference in upfront costs between the petrol and plug-in hybrid Golf is highly variable at the time of writing since both fuel and electricity costs are elevated. However, with grants for EV and wallbox purchases, exemptions from taxes and local charges, and the 2035 switchover looming, it’s clear that hybrids are an obvious switch for anyone selling their fossil-fuel engine car.

    The new Yaris GR Sport adds side skirts and a rear spoiler for that sportier look.
    If you aren’t going to drive your car a lot, or keep it for a long time, a hybrid may not be for you.

    Will hybrids save you money in the short term?

    The above example is considered a reliable and affordable hybrid, although cheaper models are available on the market.

    While you stand to save a lot on fuel costs, you’ll have to work out your proportion of electric driving to fuel driving (e.g. how much do you drive at full speed on motorways versus stop-start city trips?) to have a clear picture of the exact cost to fuel your car. 

    Depending on your car usage, it could take a few years to save the difference between purchase costs of an ICE vehicle and a hybrid.

    Servicing costs for hybrids tend to be the same as fossil-fuelled cars, but you will probably need to change your brake discs and pads less as regenerative braking lightens the load when coming to a stop.

    What hybrid taxes are there?

    In the 2022/23 tax year, cars registered after 2017 that are zero-emission pay no tax in the first year. The ‘alternative’ rate applies to them in ensuing years, which is £155 (a £10 discount off the standard rate of £165). 

    For hybrids that were bought at a value over £40,000 including factory-fitted options, there is an expensive car supplementary tax of £355, which is the same level as any other fuel type.

    From the tax year of 2025/26, road tax for EVs and hybrids is increasing to match the level of ICE vehicles. In the first year, this will be £10, and thereafter the standard annual rate of £165 will apply.

    Until that next tax year starts, fully-electric EVs will still be road tax-free.

    The introduction of ULEZ in the capital could change the cars Londoners are buying
    The expansion of ULEZ in the capital will change the cars Londoners are buying.

    Will hybrid cars be banned?

    The UK Government announced in February 2020 that it will ban all sales of new fossil-fuelled vehicles, including hybrid cars by 2035, this means now could be a good time to sell as hybrids will only become more and more unpopular as 2035 approaches.

    Making a final decision on selling a hybrid car

    Hybrid cars aren’t necessarily the magic fuel-saving option 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 to cover a lot of around-town miles or just be invested in producing less CO2. Sadly, when the upfront cost of the car comes into that argument, many just end up buying petrol.

    Toyota have updated the RAV4 to give it a full hybrid powertrain.
    Could a hybrid SUV be the right option for you?

    If you need a small town runabout there are plenty of frugal three-cylinder petrol engines which emit low amounts of CO2.

    For long-distance driving, bigger diesel vehicles used to be the top recommendation. With popular brands such as Nissan and VW coming out with hybrid and fully-electric SUVs now, it’s getting easier to switch your heavy-duty family vehicle for a greener option.

    Either way, if you’ve purchased a hybrid new, you’re likely to lose out when it comes to selling due to their quicker depreciation. So far, pure electric cars hold their value better – possibly due to policy changes such as low emission zones, and changes to EV tax rates, that favour fully-electric vehicles over some hybrids.

    Is it time to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from finding buyers, to negotiating a good price, and completing payment safely.