Why Is Green Car Hire More Expensive?

Car exhaust pipe

I came across this article on The Guardian newspaper’s website recently, bemoaning the fact that green car hire (e.g. hybrids) is still more expensive than hiring a regular car.

It’s a bit of a shame the author of the article didn’t research it a bit more carefully. There are good reasons that hybrids and other specifically ‘green’ cars cost more to hire than conventional cars.

The main reason is that they cost more to buy. Let’s compare the list prices of the Toyota Prius (a green favourite with its hybrid powertrain) and the Ford Focus – a direct equivalent in size and quality but conventionally powered:

  • Toyota Prius – list price £17,932 – £20,832)
  • Ford Focus – list price £12,495 – £20,545)

(Prices as published on manufacturers websites 09/09/2008)

That’s right – a basic Prius costs a whopping £5,500 more than a basic Focus.

It’s no great secret that car rental companies get substantial discounts on list prices – but even they will have to pay more for hybrids and other super-green cars. On top of that, production volumes of newer, green models are often lower than for mainstream models, making them harder for car rental companies to buy in the kind of numbers they need.

The reality is that all new cars are getting greener – even with conventional petrol and diesel engines, many are now reaching emissions levels below 120g/km and offer exceptional fuel economy. These regular models are much more readily available from car rental companies than hybrids as they are being made in normal mass production volumes.

It’s also worth remembering that all those expensive hybrid battery packs will need disposing of in 5-8 years’ time and replacing at considerable cost – while most modern petrol and diesel vehicles will still be happily thrumming away on their original engines…

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