Advancing a Free Society

An Inconvenient Truth From the NYT on Hybrid and Electric Cars

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The venerable New York Times has been a reliable cheer leader for electric and hybrid cars in its A “news” section. Its "Business Day" section is for readers who base business decisions on what they read. They don’t want to be bothered with political correctness – just the facts. Except for a slip here or there, there is little difference between the Times Business Day and Wall Street Journalbusiness reporting. With its table “The Cost of Higher Fuel Economy,” the Times has blown the cover of the electric or hybrid car. They do not make economic sense even at much higher gas prices.

I see that Drudge has picked up this story. Now everyone will know the house of cards on which the Volt is built.

In its Payoff for Efficient Cars Takes Years (April 5), the Timespublishes a table that shows that buying an electric or hybrid car makes little business sense as compared to buying the closest conventional model from the same manufacturer. For example, a buyer choosing between a Chevy Cruze Eco and a Volt requires 27 years to break even. The best buy appears to be the Jetta TDI (which sells for only $500 more than the conventional Jetta) and breaks even in a year.

It takes much too long for the fuel savings to pay for the higher sales prices – even at $5 or $6 gas. It would take $12.50 gas to make the Volt a decent buy even after the $7,500 government credit.

The Times article concludes that people buy Volts and Fiesta SFE’s because it makes them feel better and more civic minded. That is not a very solid foundation on which to build a market.