Hybrid vs Diesel: what is more cost efficient?

    Apart from the benefits of being more refined and less polluting, we address the burning question if hybrids have any financial advantage over diesels.

    Published On Oct 15, 2022 07:00:00 AM


    With a handful of mass-market hybrid cars and SUVs now on sale, buyers now have the choice of another engine option with low running costs before taking the inevitable plunge into full electric vehicles in the future. Hybrids, however, also command a significant premium over petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles, which then begs the question – how cost-effective are they to buy and run over their period of ownership?

    To answer this, we have taken the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder (the more affordable strong-hybrid of the Maruti-Toyota duo), and for some perspective on efficiency and running costs, pitted it against the Kia Seltos diesel-automatic. We have also factored in the Honda City hybrid and diesel for a more like-to-like comparison. So, do hybrids really make financial sense over diesel cars and SUVs? Let’s find out.

    Toyota Hyryder, Kia Seltos and Honda City: powertrain, fuel efficiency

    But first, let’s get the tech specs out of the way. Refer to the table below for a detailed look at the powertrain and specifications of each model.

    Technical specifications
    Hyryder HybridSeltos dieselCity hybridCity diesel
    Engine type1.5-litre, 3-cyl hybrid1.5-litre, 4-cyl1.5-litre, 4-cyl hybrid1.5-litre, 4-cyl
    Engine power92hp115hp98hp100hp
    Engine torque122Nm250Nm127Nm200Nm
    Electric motor power80hp-109hp-
    Electric motor torque114Nm-253Nm-
    Combined output116hp-126hp-
    Gearboxe-CVT6 ATe-CVT6 MT

    We recently road tested the Maruti Grand Vitara for its fuel efficiency and achieved 23.77kpl in the city and 20.39kpl on the highway, giving an average of 22.08kpl. Given that the Grand Vitara and Hyryder are identical under the skin and weigh exactly the same, these fuel economy figures are indicative of the Hyryder as well. The Seltos, meanwhile, managed 12.90kpl in the city and 17.80kpl out on the highway for an average of 15.35kpl.

    The Hyryder’s staggering fuel efficiency is credited to the fact that it can run in pure EV mode under light loads. In fact, Toyota claims that 50-60 percent of city commutes in the Hyryder can be done in pure EV mode. However, at highway speeds, the combustion engine is active a lot more often, resulting in lesser fuel economy than in the city.

    The Honda City Hybrid returns a fuel efficiency of 19.8kpl in the city and 22.5kpl out on the highway, giving a combined fuel economy of 21.15kpl. However, unlike the Hyryder (and Grand Vitara), the City Hybrid cannot be put in EV mode manually because its system automatically shuffles between EV and hybrid modes. The City diesel, meanwhile, returns 16.2kpl in the city and 19.2kpl on the highway for average fuel efficiency of 17.7kpl.


    Toyota Hyryder, Kia Seltos and Honda City: running costs explained

    With petrol costing Rs 96.72 per litre and diesel being Rs 89.62 per litre in Delhi as of October 14, 2022, the average fuel cost per kilometre works out to Rs 4.38 and Rs 5.84 for the Hyryder and Seltos, respectively. The Hyryder, therefore, has a cost advantage of Rs 1.46 per km over the Seltos diesel.

    The Hyryder and the Seltos in their top-spec V and GTX+ trims cost Rs 18.99 lakh and Rs 18.35 lakh, respectively (ex-showroom). Therefore, the initial premium that you need to pay for the Hyryder over the Seltos diesel is Rs 64,000. So, even though you save Rs 1.46 per km, you’ll have to drive the Hyryder for 43,835km to recover the initial premium over the Seltos diesel-AT. It is only after this point that you’ll start benefitting from the lower running costs of the Hyryder considering that fuel prices remain a constant factor.

    In the case of the City, the hybrid version has an average fuel cost per km of Rs 4.57, while the diesel version costs Rs 5.06 per km. The difference in running cost works out to be just Rs 0.49, but the difference in price of the hybrid (Rs 19.89 lakh) and top-spec ZX diesel (Rs 15.52 lakh) is a massive Rs 4.37 lakh. Therefore, to recover the initial premium with the City, you will have to drive a staggering 8,91,836km to reach the breakeven point.

    Cost Analysis: Hybrid vs Diesel
    Hyryder HybridSeltos dieselCity HybridCity diesel
    VariantVGTX+ ATZX e:HEVZX MT
    Price (ex-showroom)Rs 18.99 lakhRs 18.35 lakhRs 19.89 lakhRs 15.52 lakh
    Premium over dieselRs 65,000-Rs 4.57 lakh-
    Cost of fuel (14 Oct. 2022)Rs 96.72kplRs 89.92Rs 96.72kplRs 89.92
    Running cost per kmRs 4.38Rs 5.84Rs 4.57Rs 5.06
    Cost/km advantage over dieselRs 1.46-Rs 0.49-
    Breakeven point43,835km-8,91,836km-

    Petrol-Hybrid vs diesel: what makes more financial sense?

    As you can see from the analysis above, the decision essentially boils down to the premium you pay for the hybrid, how much you drive and the period of ownership you are looking at. If your annual usage is about 10,000km on average, it will be at least four years before you start benefitting from the lower running costs of the Hyryder over the Seltos diesel. In the case of the City, however, an owner is unlikely to recover the initial premium for the hybrid given the unreasonably high mileage one has to cover before reaching the breakeven point.

    Essentially, the decision to choose a hybrid car over diesel makes sense if you are able to recover the premium over the period of ownership of the vehicle, and perhaps then some more due to lower running costs. This aside, hybrid powertrains are a lot smoother and offer a more refined driving experience over diesels. And being relatively less polluting, it gives owners the satisfaction of doing their bit for the environment, which is where the City hybrid also manages to make a case for itself over the diesel.

    Also See:

    ‘ICE, EVs to co-exist for at least 20 years in India': Heavy Industries secretary

    Honda City Hybrid real world fuel economy tested, explained

    Toyota Hyryder vs rivals: price and specifications compared

    Copyright (c) Autocar India. All rights reserved.

    unknown - 611 days ago

    As it stands now, Hybrid is having a very heavy premium over diesel cars and neither does it have the mid range punch to give the satisfaction while driving and the hybrid power train will become noisy when extended as in an overtaking maneuver...and neither will anyone recover the cost, all this boils down to govt not giving tax sops for getting a hybrid and tax it heavily...

    Vikas Kolambkar - 613 days ago

    the break even point will be around 80000km in maharashtra state considering price difference between petrol and diesel, so it will be better if you perform analysis based on average cost of fuel across the country, as i feel this analysis is applicable for delhi region only

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