2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI - Click above for high-res image gallery

Car sales may be down, but people who are looking for a new ride would do well to consider diesel and hybrid vehicles if they want a lower cost of ownership in the long-term. IntelliChoice.com has released its fourth annual survey of eco-friendly vehicles and has found that standard gasoline cars, while often less expensive up front, just aren't a good deal when compared to clean diesels and hybrids.

IntelliChoice looked at 2009 model year diesels and hybrids and found that, after five years or 70,000 miles, these powerplants cost less than simple ICEs. The survey looked at overall maintenance costs and resale value in addition to fuel savings. Since hybrids and clean diesels are built and sold as top-of-the-line models, IntelliChoice says, they keep their resale value up. Of the 51 cars tested, 35 "deliver a cost-of-ownership that is somewhat or significantly lower than gasoline versions of the same vehicle," said IntelliChoice editor James Bell. Bell singled out the VW Jetta TDI and Mercedes Benz E320 as diesel vehicles that "perform even better than hybrids in saving thousands of dollars in costs and recouping their purchase premium."

CNBC pulls some numbers from the report that show that, for example, the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI may cost an extra $2,070 up front, but it will save the owner $6,210 over five years compared to the standard Jetta. A 2009 Prius costs $1,805 more than a new Camry, but the savings will be $4,930 during the half decade. You can download the study here (PDF).

[Source: IntelliChoice.com, CNBC]


IntelliChoice.com Survey Finds Hybrid and Diesel Cars Beat Standard Models on Cost

- 2009 Survey Shows Clean Diesel Models Beat Hybrids in Return on Investment-

IRVINE, CA (July 9, 2009) - IntelliChoice.com's fourth annual survey of eco-friendly vehicles, released today, shows that most 2009 hybrid and clean diesel cars, trucks and SUVs deliver a lower cost of ownership compared to standard versions of the same vehicles. IntelliChoice.com, a long-time observer of how environmental concerns are reshaping the auto market, is the leading source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis and is part of SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA.

The 2009 IntelliChoice.com Hybrid and Diesel Car survey explores the value of all 2009 model year hybrids and, for the first time, vehicles with clean diesel engines, by evaluating the major factors that determine a vehicle's cost of ownership over a five year period or 70,000 miles. Those factors include Fuel, Maintenance and Repair, Retained Value, Insurance, and Taxes and Licensing Fees.

"The survey this year once again supports what we have long argued-that most hybrid vehicles and now clean diesel vehicles offer superior value to standard models," said James Bell, editor of IntelliChoice.com. "Of the 51 hybrid and clean diesel models now on the market, 35 of them deliver a cost-of-ownership that is somewhat or significantly lower than gasoline versions of the same vehicle. The long-time knock against 'green' cars, trucks and SUVs is that their sticker prices do not justify the gas savings. The point we make is that it is not just about fuel. Buyers also need to consider costs such as maintenance and resale value."

Bell added, "The Obama Administration's recent announcement of unified and aggressive standards on Fuel Efficiency and CO2 Emissions puts even greater focus on the 'green' vehicles in our study. Many of the vehicles listed here will be 'make or break' efforts for their manufacturers as they work to meet new standards by 2016. In many cases, these vehicles already meet and exceed the standards."

Among the top-line findings from the survey:

Clean diesel has the potential to be a game changer. "Clean diesel cars like the VW Jetta TDI and Mercedes Benz E320 <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Mercedes-Benz/E320> perform even better than hybrids in saving thousands of dollars in costs and recouping their purchase premium," said Bell. "Make no mistake that clean diesel cars are now mainstream. The Obama Administration needs to reexamine the legacy of higher tax rates on diesel fuel, which were set long before the switch to the low sulfur formulation required for general consumer use. The time has come to put diesel on a level playing field with gasoline. The Administration could even promote it with lower taxation as is done in Europe."

Small cars, sedans and crossovers perform better than large trucks and SUVs. "No surprise here. The Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Honda/Civic> and even small SUVs like the Ford Escape Hybrid save their owners thousands of dollars over five years. When you begin to move into the larger vehicles, especially big SUVs, you may pay a few thousand dollars more in ownership costs for hybrid cars and clean diesel versions," said Bell.

The higher fuel prices go, the greater value hybrids and clean diesels deliver. "The survey uses a six-month running average of $3.20 per gallon in factoring fuel costs. We expect that gas prices will eventually go up, which increases the savings for hybrid car owners."

Hybrid and clean diesel cars come fully loaded. "Buyers should keep in mind that automakers treat their hybrid and clean diesel models as top-of-the-line products. As such, they are usually loaded with options, and are usually equivalent to the fully loaded versions of gas-powered models. This is because automakers will throw in extra features to justify higher prices."

The Survey IntelliChoice.com's 2009 Hybrid and Diesel Car Survey pits hybrid and clean diesel vehicles against their gas-powered counterparts in the five most important cost of ownership categories. For instance, the Ford Escape Hybrid is compared against the "regular" or gas-only Ford Escape. The list below is a sample of findings from the survey that demonstrates how cost of ownership can offset higher sticker prices.

2009 Model and Trim MSRP Premium 5-Yr Cost of Ownership Savings Volkswagen Jetta TDI <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Volkswagen/Jetta> $2,070 $6,210 Toyota Prius <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Toyota/Prius> (vs. Camry <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Toyota/Camry> ) $1,805 $4,930 Saturn Aura Green Line <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Saturn/Aura> $1,480 $2,185 Mercedes-Benz GL320 BlueTEC <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Mercedes-Benz/GL320> ($1,000) $4,645 Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 4WD <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Chevrolet/Silverado> $615 $3,821 Ford Escape Hybrid AWD <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Ford/Escape> $4,725 $2,123 Chevy Malibu Hybrid <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Chevrolet/Malibu> $3,050 ($250) Cadillac Escalade Hybrid 4WD <http://www.intellichoice.com/search/new/Cadillac/Escalade> $8,400 ($2,265)

About IntelliChoice.com, Source Interlink Media, and Source Interlink Companies, Inc. IntelliChoice.com, part of Source Interlink Media, LLC, is the market leader in automotive ownership cost and value analysis. Founded in 1986, IntelliChoice.com is committed to empowering consumers to make better purchase decisions by providing independent and essential automotive information and tools. Through the IntelliChoice.com web site, consumers get the help they need to research, compare, configure and price vehicles. The site also connects buyers to the buying alternatives of their choice, including vehicle manufacturers and an online car buying guide. Source Interlink Media is a subsidiary of Source Interlink Companies, Inc. (NASDAQ: SORC), a media and marketing services company. Source Interlink is one of the largest publishers of magazines and online content for enthusiast audiences and a leading distributor of home entertainment products, including DVDs, music CDs, magazines, games, books and related items. Learn more about IntelliChoice.com <http://www.intellichoice.com/> and Source Interlink <http://www.sourceinterlink.com/> .

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