2010 Ford Fusion – Click above for to enlarge

For about the first 110 years of the automobile, the gold standard of eco-thriftiness was a car's miles-per-gallon rating. With the rise of hybrids, plug-ins, biofuels and the like, cost-per-mile might be the better measurement of road-going value. The idea is simple: if a car is powered by a Mr. Fusion or Dilithium crystals or the laughter of children and only costs $.01 per mile to operate but it carries a sticker price of $500,000, its efficiency is never going to balance out its initial cost.

Well, the San Francisco Chronicle has compiled a list of seven popular hybrids along with estimates of how long it would take for each car to pay for its higher cost compared to non-hybrid models in gasoline savings. The winner by a long shot is the Ford Fusion Hybrid at a mere 5.6 years. Which car fared worst? The Nissan Altima Hybrid at a whopping 21 years. We have to wonder, 21 years from now, will they still be making batteries for a 2010 Altima Hybrid?

In short, if you're going by gas savings alone, hybrids don't really pay in the short term. Then again, if gasoline taxes shoot up or peak oil really is right around the corner, the cost per mile of these vehicles could very quickly tip in their favor. Read the full article here.

[Source: San Francisco Chronicle]