According to the French research organization IFP, making lithium-ion powered hybrids makes economic sense right now for both the carmaker and the buyer.

The research company came to this conclusion after extensively researching a true cost of ownership over the lifetime of a vehicle.  Their comparisons show that lithium-ion plug-in hybrids do not cost significantly more over the entire life of the vehicle.

For the comparison, they pitted a compact diesel against a 16 mile electric only range plug-in hybrid.  The diesel came in at $21,500 to purchase.  Adding the cost of fuel and maintenance over the 124,000 mile life of the vehicle would result in a total out of pocket expense of $41,523.

The plug-in they choose is a hypothetical vehicle that achieves a 16 mile electric only range before using gasoline.  The battery pack for this vehicle adds $8,591 in up front costs to bring the purchase price to $30,091.  The fuel (some of which is electricity) and maintenance costs bring the total out of pocket expense for the life of the vehicle to $42,953.

The difference in costs for the two vehicles is a paltry $1,430.  Quite insignificant when spread out over say 10 years, adding an additional expense of only $143 per year.

Maybe automakers will take notice and move production schedules up for plug-in vehicles.  If car buyers are aware of the true ownership costs, they may be more willing to spend additional money up front.

Source:  Wards Auto (Login Required)