Honda Jazz Hybrid Badge

Unmistakably green

How much extra do you have to pay to buy a hybrid car? A lot less than I expected.

Looking at sticker prices in South Africa, the difference is rather scary. Honda’s new Hybrid Jazz lists for R245,000, a full R20,000 more than the top-of-the line non-hybrid equivalent, the Executive Automatic Jazz. But for the moment, at least, the real difference is far smaller. I just purchased a bright green 2011 Jazz Hybrid demo for R181,000, considerably less than the Executive and approximately the same price as the basic Jazz Comfort automatic. (The Executive and the Hybrid are not exactly comparable—the Executive has a glass roof, for example—but they have many similar features.) Yes, my Hybrid has 6,000 kms on the odometer, but I hardly consider that used; it’s barely broken in.

I know I made a good deal, but you can get the same bargain right now, especially if you live in Durban. The Umhlanga Honda dealership has three demo Hybrid Jazz cars on the showroom floor, left over from the COP 17 conference. None of them has been driven more than 15,000 kms, and one of them was offered to me for the same price I paid in Gauteng.

And why look only at new hybrids? It’s almost always greener to buy a used product than a new one, especially a car, since manufacturing a new vehicle accounts vast quantities of energy and emissions. Manufacturing the average new car creates about three tonnes of carbon emissions according to Chris Goodall’s excellent book, How to Live a Low-Carbon Life. A quick look at www.automark.co.za shows that a low-mileage, used Toyota Prius can be had for about R150,000. Hybrids are only expensive if you lack imagination.