Factory fuel economy packages, the special trims or option groups bundled with efficiency improving items such as low-rolling-resistance tires, aerodynamic tweaks and electric power steering, cost the consumer a few hundred dollars (or more) at the time of purchase but don't seem to add any resale value down the road, says a recent report from Cars.com.

Consumers are lured to the packages by the promise of an extra mile or two per gallon. While that does deliver minor savings on the monthly fuel bill (about five bucks, for the typical 12,000-mile annual driver), it is often nearly a decade before the initial investment pays for itself. Plus, experts say owners shouldn't expect to benefit from any price premium on their eco-equipped models when it comes time to sell.

As it turns out, calculating precise resale values on these special models is complicated. Not only are they low volume, but few are sold as separate trims (exceptions include models such as Honda's Civic HF and the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, pictured above). This means they aren't always differentiated on resale projections. Even when they are, the news isn't always good. In one resale study, the 2010 Kia Forte with the fuel-economy package was listing for $238 less than its standard sibling.

Further reducing the appeal of the high-efficiency trims is advancing technology. In most cases, redesigned vehicles deliver better fuel economy than their predecessors. Experts suggest that consumers consider fuel economy packages like upgraded audio components and navigation systems – expensive in the showroom, but obsolete and of little additional value down the road.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      pickles
      • 1 Year Ago
      I think it's interesting how often the 'how long will it take to pay for itself' argument comes up. How long does your steak dinner, upgraded cable, new TV, etc take to pay for itself? People typically buy more effecient cars because they want to be less impactful on shrinking icecaps, foreign oil dependency or maybe they just can't stand getting their hands dirty every time they have to re-fuel. The fiscal benefits to buying a new car compared to keeping your old one are almost always zilch. The reason we buy new cars is because we want them. Just like a nice dinner or more channels or a new TV.
      A_Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Automakers know that people will see the highest number on their site, ignore the asterisk (*Eco Trim), buy the car, and then tell everyone they get 42 mpg ...regardless if they got the Eco trim or not.
        foxtrot685
        • 1 Year Ago
        @A_Guy
        I never thought about it like that but its so true. At the very least, it gets consumers in the showroom.
        A_Guy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @A_Guy
        In other words, marketing ploy that isn't worth the money because people don't care when it comes to resale value.
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @A_Guy
        This is the absolute winning post of the day. Automakers used to do that all the time with their manual transmission models. They would splash the higher manual transmission MPG's all over the place, even though they knew the majority of buyers would get the auto. Then all the fanboi's would brag on the internet about the great MPG their model of car gets, leaving out the fact that they bought the auto and were quoting higher manual transmission MPG numbers. Toyota vs. Honda debates have been all over the internet dating back to the 1990's that are just like that.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Pfff. It depends on when you look. When gas hit $4/gallon in 2008 the price of crappy old Geo Metros went way up.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      Generally, don't buy a car as an investment. If you want the Eco package and it makes sense to you, then buy it. Is the Cruze Eco trim really that expensive? I guess it is, it's the same trim as a 1LT and it costs almost $1,000 more. You do get bigger rims, some would see that as adding some value. But even if it does, the trim is costing you $500 at least. fueleconomy.gov says you save $150 per year on fuel compared to the 1LT (1.4T) so I guess depending on how much you like those rims the package takes between 3 and 6 years to pay back.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        [blocked]
        foxtrot685
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Thats because the Cruze eco really does offer impressive real world gains over the non eco trims, which themselves are fuel efficient as well. Fuelly.com shows people are often getting hybrid-like real world average fuel mileage out of them!
        raktmn
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        If the resale value is $500-$800 higher whenever you sell it, the payback time is zero. You just save more money on gas every single month, and recoup the entire higher purchase price when you sell the car. Saving gas then is all 100% pure savings, and doesn't cost you anything. It is pure savings profit going into your pocket. (And don't get into "cost of opportunity over 500-800 bucks. That is pedantic).
      Mr E
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's entirely possible that the sample size is too small here, but I keep trying to figure out why the "eco" trims would actually sell for less than the base model. Equal, I could see, but the suggestion here is that they actually hurt resale value?
      foxtrot685
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just never got behind the idea of paying more money for 1 or 2 highway MPG; nearly identical, if not identical, combined MPG, and only a slight reduction in projected fuel costs if there is a reduction at all. Id rather put the money into gas and just drive efficiently.
      Joeviocoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      "It's entirely possible that the sample size is too small here, but I keep trying to figure out why the "eco" trims would actually sell for less than the base model. Equal, I could see, but the suggestion here is that they actually hurt resale value?" -Mr E Yep... Michael Harley trolling his readers
      OMS
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't mean to say this is true of everything, just my one experience, but my wife and I looked at a Honda Insight because she wanted to consider a hybrid of some sort (I wanted a V6 Mazda 6). Because we are the type of family who run cars into the ground before we buy a new one, I was concerned about the longevity of the battery. The Honda salesman told me that the battery would maintain a "useful" charge for 8-10 years, after which time, it would need to be replaced. He told me that he thought that, at today's prices, a replacement battery would cost around $2000. I assume this is true of most hybrids and electric cars at this point. If that is the case, I can see why these cars have poor resale value. Who would want to be forced to spend $2000 on a ten-year-old car, or buy one used with an effective limit on the life of the car?
      sirvixisvexed
      • 1 Year Ago
      The study seems to have focused on slightly gimmicky things, and an arbitrary blanket number for monthly savings of "$5". Full on regular hybrids DO get better resale than their same year, mileage, and trim level gas equivalent. (Escape vs Escape hybrid, fusion vs similarly equipped fusion hybrid etc...)
      DeathKnoT
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'll be looking for one of these used. I was surprised they price on the used car market. Not bad.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      thumerzs
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's because for the most part, the ECO trims add very little to the efficiency of real world MPG. People buying these cars tend to do the research and know the EPA projections are inaccurate. In the case of the Cruze Eco manual (not the automatic!) and the Volkswagen diesels, the extra investment actually pays off.
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