According to a recent study completed by Carnegie Mellon University, drivers with long commutes won’t necessarily be doing the environment any favors by spending the extra money on a hybrid vehicle.
This is the first time I’ve ever used this phrase, but, “Well, duh!” I’m glad that someone with more clout than I, and other millions with common sense, has completed a study that explains the obvious to the rest of those people with more money than sense. It is already well-known that a hybrid vehicle costs more than a conventional vehicle but, for some reason, customers don’t quite get what the EPA|DOT Fuel Economy and Environment window sticker is trying to tell them about the vehicle they’re looking at.
You see, the window sticker on a conventional 2012 Toyota Camry shows 28mpg combined in large letters but, looking at the small print, 25mpg city and 35mpg highway. On the other hand, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid shows 41mpg combined but, looking at the small print, 43mpg city and 39mpg highway. On the highway, the Camry Hybrid gets just 4mpg better than the conventional.
Another thing the study pointed out is that most people don’t know how to drive, that is, if you drive a hybrid vehicle like a fool, then you can actually get your fuel mileage down below a conventional vehicle. For electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Model S, you can wipe out up to 40% [that's somewhat conservative, I believe] by aggressive driving habits alone, even more if you drive over the speed limit, overload the vehicle, and ignore maintenance.
What’s the bottom line? Pick the right tool for the task. If you do more driving in the city, a hybrid vehicle will serve you well. If you have a long commute, consider how much more you’ll spend on the car than you will on fuel, perhaps a conventional vehicle will work out better for you. Finally, keep your vehicle maintained properly and drive responsibly.