Five MORE Big Myths About Green Cars And Gas Mileage, Debunked

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Yep, Big Oil is definitely scheming and plotting to destroy the electric car. Everyone knows that. Right?

[sigh] Time for more mythbusting, it seems.

The surprising success of our first debunking of five green-car myths led us to look at five more relatively common ideas and explain ... well, as they say: NOT.

MORE: Five Big Myths About Green Cars And Gas Mileage, Debunked

Some are about saving money on gasoline, others are more general in nature. They come from our readers and from articles we've read that propound rather, errrr, creative ways of looking at green cars, vehicles in general, the auto industry in specific, and the world energy industry.

Here we go.

2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius

2012, 2013, and 2014 Toyota Prius

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(1) Any green or high-MPG car will save you money.

This is often the case, but it's far from universally true. It's the flipside of the notion that high-efficiency cars cost so much more than comparable gasoline cars that you'll never make back the additional cost.

Both notions require you to combine the initial costs and difference in gas mileage--or cost-per-mile for plug-in electric cars--with your assumptions about how long you will own the car and what will happen to the price of gasoline.

If you compare a 2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco, at 35 mpg combined, to a 2014 Toyota Prius at 50 mpg, the additional cost for the Prius (using the base price of each model) is $5,500.

If you own the car for five years and drive 10,000 miles a year on $3-per-gallon gasoline, the Corolla will cost you $1,287 more in gas. So it saves you money against a Prius that costs $5,500 more.

On the other hand, since the Prius is technically a mid-size car, compare it to a 28-mpg non-hybrid 2014 Toyota Camry, at a price difference of just $1,725.

If you drive 15,000 miles a year on $4-per-gallon gasoline, and keep the car six years, the Camry costs you an extra $5,656. The Prius is a clear winner there.

In other words: You have to do the math.

2014 Chrysler 300

2014 Chrysler 300

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(2) Owning one vehicle is always cheaper than owning two.

Once more, it may be true, but it's not always the case--depending on your circumstances.

One brand-new but very inefficient car--an 18-mpg 2014 Chrysler 300 AWD with the 5.7-liter V-8 engine, for example--there are cases where a 50-mpg Prius Liftback and a 50-mpg Prius C subcompact could save you enough in gasoline to offset the second car payment.

If your household has to cover 25,000 miles a year--not unusual with long commutes--then using the pair of Priuses for five years will save you 889 gallons of gasoline a year. At $4 a gallon, that's $3,556 each year--or almost $300 a month.

Which could be enough to cover the $6,440 difference between the Chrysler ($36,840) and a Prius ($24,200) plus a Prius C ($19,080) over five years' worth of car payments, plus the insurance for that second car.

This is just one example; your own circumstances, mileage, and personal preferences will obviously play into the calculations.

But again, you have to do the math. (As Barbie notoriously said, "Math is hard!")

Oil well (photo by John Hill)

Oil well (photo by John Hill)

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(3) Big Oil is working quietly and nefariously behind the scenes to kill plug-in electric cars and keep the world enslaved to petroleum transportation.

We tend not to believe in conspiracy theories here, but this crops up again and again and again: Despite the valiant efforts of electric-car advocates, Big Oil is working quietly behind the scenes to crush the very idea of plug-in electric cars and prevent them from coming to market altogether.

Sometimes the theory comes with the eager assistance of the world's car companies, who also want to keep their customers enslaved to gasoline.

Here's why it's not true.

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