Hybrid cars – should you sell?

With the recent announcement that the ban on new sales of fossil fuel cars, including some hybrids will be brought forward to 2030, you could be left wondering, should I sell my hybrid now?

After dieselgate, the world scrambled to find a cleaner alternative. There were only a few hybrid vehicles on the market, Toyota’s Prius being the dominant force.

But since 2018, choice has exploded, manufacturers have started producing more and more pure electric vehicles as technology and uptake have improved. The range of both hybrid and electric cars on offer improves every month with many now popular on the used market.

Should I sell A Hybrid Car
The Prius was the first mainstream hybrid car, but we’ve come a long way…

Hybrids offer a small amount of battery power which works in conjunction with the petrol engine to increase your miles per gallon by saving fuel.

Hybrids are a great middle-ground between a fossil-fuelled car and a pure electric car, with plug-in hybrids adding even more EV only practicality.

They aren’t as green as they could be though, they weigh a lot due to their combination of an engine, battery pack, and motors and the high purchase cost often takes years to recoup any fuel savings.

But should you sell a hybrid car? How do they compare to their petrol and diesel counterparts?

Should I sell my hybrid car?

  1. Are hybrid cars better than petrol or diesel?
  2. When does a hybrid car make sense?
  3. When should I sell my hybrid car?
  4. Are hybrid cars cheaper to run?
  5. What hybrid taxes are there?
  6. Will hybrid cars be banned?
  7. Making a final decision on buying or selling a hybrid car

Are hybrid cars better than petrol or diesel?

Hybrids often make far more sense than diesel or even a pure electric vehicle. The reason for this comes down to the initial outlay, mainly how much they cost.

There are now quite a few manufacturers who have hybridised their entire line up, that means there’s little extra cost when choosing the hybrid option.

Hybrid Engine Bay showing HV cables.
Cars with hybrid engines are seeing booming sales globally. The option to use fuel as well as eco power has given people an excellent option beyond going purely electric.

Comparing them to EVs, they’re substantially cheaper and you don’t have the issue of worrying about where to charge if you get desperate when out and about.

You also often pay a premium for diesel engine cars, traditionally they were seen as being more efficient and giving higher miles per gallon, so that cost you extra at the dealership.

When comparing hybrids to diesels you’ll find that they’re either on par, or a hybrid will cost a little more depending on what manufacturer you’re looking at.

As hybrids become more commonplace, their prices will fall further.

If you commute in stop-start traffic, you’re more likely to see a benefit from owning a hybrid than if you were commuting up and down the motorway every day.

While hybrids have closed the gap when it comes to higher speed frugality, they still can’t match diesel on this particular factor.

When does a hybrid car make sense?

This is a tricky question, as arguably a hybrid car can make sense in every scenario. But let’s have a more in-depth look into the different situations and why a hybrid can be a great option.

Hybrids for urban driving

Hybrids are often at their best during slow, stop-start traffic – that’s why London’s Uber drivers all use Hybrid cars like the Prius. The low speeds mean the hybrid can kick in often, and many hybrids can be driven on pure electricity alone.

You will, however, deplete the battery quicker because the petrol engine isn’t on and charging up the pack.

Hybrids for high speed, motorway driving

In this setting, hybrids will be less efficient in terms of MPG saved. They will, however, give you a nice healthy electric nudge when you need to overtake.

This makes them more efficient than a petrol or diesel which you’d have to rev harder to make that same manoeuvre.

Hybrids can also help you keep pace at higher speeds, you can often find the motors cutting in and out at speeds of 50 – 60 MPH.

Should I sell my hybrid car?

If you own a hybrid then it’s worth taking into account its resale value and depreciation. In recent times, we’ve seen how dramatically used car prices can fall with a change of opinion or bad news story.

It’s always a good idea to get a car valuation, just so you know if there are any outstanding amounts were you to hand the car back earlier under a finance agreement, or if you’re in negative equity when it comes to a personal loan.

Most car buying sites including Motorway can also give you an accurate estimated sale price with their valuation tools, and you can calculate any money likely to remain in your bank account after any finance or loans in place are cleared.

How fast do hybrids depreciate?

Unlike some electric cars, which can hold their value or even see increases depending on where the car market is heading, hybrid vehicles don’t really benefit from the same effects.

A brand new Hyundai Ioniq hybrid costs £22,785 in SE trim. You can find examples that are just a year old with 25,000 miles on the clock for around £14,000.

While that’s a superb 47.7% saving for a second-hand buyer, it’s not great if you’ve purchased your car outright and want to change to something else.

Lower than the Toyota Prius on MPG the Hyundai Ioniq still offers a lot for the money.
The Hyundai Ioniq is a good value option but won’t do as many miles per gallon as the Prius.

Plug-in hybrids score a little better, but not much. Taking the same Hyundai Ioniq as a benchmark, a new PHEV version costs £29,895. A used, year-old model with 25,000 miles under its belt is just £18,500, or 47% less than new.

Whether you purchased or financed your hybrid, and how, determines whether now is the right time to sell.

Above all, you can see that hybrids depreciate as fast as any regular car, some brands fair slightly better, but on the whole, they plummet so it’s probably worth hanging on to your hybrid for as long as possible.

Remember that on average it takes five years or more to recoup the initial outlay in fuel savings for regular buyers.

Are hybrid cars cheaper to run?

Hybrids are always going to be more expensive to purchase than their regular petrol counterparts until everything is hybridised and the playing field is level.

As an example, let’s look at the current Toyota Yaris, you can pick either petrol only or hybrid, both have the same 1.5-litre petrol engine.

The automatic petrol-only model costs £17,770, add in the hybrid, and the price rises to £19,340.

MPG for the petrol model is quoted at a minimum of 44.8, the hybrid is 56.4 (these are the new, real-world WLTP figures). That’s an increase of just 11.6 MPG.

Over a year, driving 10,000 miles, the petrol-only Yaris will cost you £1,258 with fuel costs of 124p per litre. Compare that to the hybrid and the cost of fuel per 10,000 miles is £1,010.

That’s a saving of just £248 a year. Meaning it will take you about six years and 60,000 miles to make up the £1,570 difference between the petrol and hybrid.

The new Yaris GR Sport adds side skirts and a rear spoiler for that sportier look.
If you aren’t going to drive your car a lot, or keep it for a long time, a hybrid may not be for you.

Hybrids won’t save you a fortune in the short term

The above example is one of the cheapest hybrids on the market. Consequently in terms of a numbers game, while you will save fuel, you won’t actually be saving any money until you’re into the sixth year.

Even at the best MPG for both vehicles (58.8 for the hybrid and 47 for the petrol) it would still take you just over six years to make back the difference in fuel savings.

Therefore make sure you do the math before you commit. To work out if you’re better off you only need your average miles per year, the current cost per litre of fuel and the MPG of the hybrid you’re looking to buy.

Servicing costs tend to be the same as fossil-fuelled cars, but you will probably need to change your brake discs and pads less as the regenerative braking lightens the load when coming to a stop.

So, while a hybrid may well be cheaper to run because they’ll save you fuel, it’s not a massive amount in the grand scheme of things. Are you really going to notice £250 over the cost of a year’s motoring?

What hybrid taxes are there?

Hybrids used to get away with £0 road tax, but that changed in 2017 and means that only pure electric vehicles pay no road tax.

If your hybrid costs over £40,000 you’ll have to pay the vehicle ‘premium tax’ which has to be paid from the second year to the sixth at a rate of £320 a year.

The introduction of ULEZ in the capital could change the cars Londoners are buying
The introduction of ULEZ in the capital could change the cars Londoners are buying.

Standard road tax is £135 a year for all alternatively fuelled vehicles under £40,000, they’re granted a £10 a year reduction compared to fossil-fuelled cars.

In London, your hybrid needs to emit less than 75g/km to be Congestion Charge free.

Will hybrid cars be banned?

The UK Government announced in February 2020 that it will ban all sales of new fossil-fuelled vehicles, including hybrid cars by 2030, this means now could be a good time to sell as hybrids will only become more and more unpopular as 2035 approaches.

Making a final decision on selling a hybrid car

Hybrid cars aren’t the magic fuel-saving bullet you’re always led to believe, as we demonstrated above they require a significant commitment to reap the savings they can offer.

You either need to cover a lot of around-town miles or just be invested in producing less CO2. Sadly, when the cost comes into that argument, many just end up buying petrol.

Toyota have updated the RAV4 to give it a full hybrid powertrain.
Could a hybrid SUV be the right option for you?

If you need a car for long-distance driving, one which will achieve far higher MPG than a hybrid, diesel is still your best bet.

Or, if you need a small town runabout there are plenty of frugal three-cylinder petrol engines which emit low amounts of CO2.

Either way, if you’ve purchased a hybrid new, you’re likely to lose out when it comes to selling up due to their quicker depreciation. Pure electric cars hold their value better.

Is a hybrid not for you?

If you’ve decided that a hybrid car isn’t for you, take a look at our electric car guide.

Also check out these handy guides on related topics: