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The Environmental Protection Agency, the crew that publishes the officially inaccurate gas mileage ratings, says that hybrid vehicles save drivers more money than many believe. The agency is so steadfast in its belief that it has created a hybrid savings calculator that it has posted on its drolly-named website, www.fueleconomy.gov

However, not everyone is eager to swallow what the EPA is offering. A publication, the U.S. News, did a comparison between various hybrids and their gas-powered competitors and determined that it takes anywhere from 2.2 years to more than 5 years of driving for a hybrid buyer to realize any fuel cost savings since hybrids are cost more. Many other auto-industry experts and consumer advocates have made similar findings.

When Is 118 MPG Not Worth It?

Honda Motors recently announced that the the 2013 Honda Fit EV is capable of 118 mpg, topping the figures set for its rivals the Ford Focus, Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The number is truly breath-taking, but is it really worth it?

The Fit EV needs 28.6 kilowatt hours of electricity to travel 100 miles. The average price of electricity per kilowatt hour is 11.6 cents, meaning that 100 miles will cost $3.30 to drive. The gas powered Fit costs $11.52 to travel 100 miles. That sounds like quite a savings until you factor in how much each model costs. The Fit EV has an MSRP that is nearly double that of the gas powered version. Given that the average American drives 13,500 miles per year, it will take 12 years to to recoup the initial difference in price even after the $7,500 rebate the government is offering.

Honda will be initially leasing the first 1,100 Fit EVs for $389 per month. A short term lease may help the higher priced car make more sense to a wider variety of buyers. That may be the only hope that Honda has to hang its hat on.

Chevrolet has announced that the 2013 Chevrolet Volt will have a single-charge range of 38 miles. This is a three-mile increase over what owners of the 2012 Volt get.

The increased range is possible due to slight changes having been made to the material composition of its battery’s chemistry. The new battery’s storage capacity increased to 16.5 kWh from a mere 16 and will, as a result, require longer charger times taking up to 10.5 hours to fully charge on a 120V charger.

Charged about the improved battery, Bill Wallace, GM director of Global Battery Systems Engineering, said, “The best way to explain what we’ve done at the cell level is to compare it to a cake batter recipe.  Sometimes if you use more sugar and less vanilla you get a better tasting cake. We’ve done some work at the cell level to modify the ‘ingredients’ to make a better end result. This attention to detail will allow our customers to experience more pure EV range, which is the true benefit of owning a Volt.”

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