Thursday, July 23, 2009

Penny Wise and Pound Foolish, a continuing saga.

Several years back when Mayor/Senator Bill decreed that the city must buy Prii for all city employees to drive I did a little calculation and found that if the city were to buy Toyota's next most efficient vehicle (which they no longer make) that the city could buy Echos which at the time got something like 35 MPG in the city and a base price of right at $10K, and drive them for over 150K miles for the MSRP of the base model Prius, which at the time was claiming 60 MPG. Of course the EPA eventually revised the way mileage is calculated which brought the Prius down to 48 mpg which is a bit more realistic. It also brought the Yaris, which replaced the Echo in the line up down to 29 MPG. The price of gas, as well as the price of the various models has changed since then so I decided to revisit my calculations using today's numbers, and unsurprisingly, I found that things really have not changed that much.

Here are my variables: (source:

Toyota Prius Std 5 door (hatchback)
City MPG: 48
MSRP: $22,000 (base model price)

Toyota Corolla CE 4 door sedan Automatic
City MPG: 26
MSRP: $15,205

Toyota Yaris 5 door (hatchback) Automatic
City MPG: 29
MSRP: $13,305

I assumed an average price of gas at $2.25 per gallon which is fairly typical here in Houston. I did not account for oil changes every 3000 miles (assuming $20 for the price of an oil change), which would bring the total mileage down by about 10K miles I figure, but the actual calculation gets kind of involved so I decided to ignore that number for my analysis. Trust me, it won't make much difference in the grand scheme of things, as you will see.

Let's start with the Corolla.

$22,000-$15,205= $6795 difference in purchase price. $6795/$2.25 = 3020 gallons of gasoline at $2.25 a gallon. 3020gallons*26 mpg= 78520 miles the vehicle could travel on the price difference.

Now the Yaris.
$22,000-$13,305 = $8695 difference/$2.25 per gallon gas = 3864 gallons of gasoline * 29MPG=112,069 miles.

And of course for that money, the Prius hasn't even left the lot yet.
But what about the environment? Well, the Corolla gets 26 mpg vs the Prius's 48, so you do generate about 1.8 times the CO2 of the Prius. The Yaris generates 1.6 times.

But the question is, is the tradeoff really worth the price difference? Especially since the city can't even make payroll without borrowing money? When you are broke, can you really afford to spend money on extravagances like this? Is the mayor's conscience clear if he can't afford to put enough police and firemen on the streets and people die as a result, but he has kept the city from polluting a bit? How much does that extra crime or the loss of property taxes from the burned buildings or the loss of life, or the loss of business, cost the city in the process?

Addendum: If this information is to believed, which I do, then the value of reducing CO2 emissions is even lower than everyone thinks.

(prompted by a post by William Teach at Right Wing News.)


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