May wholesale used-vehicle prices indicate that 2005 hybrids hold more of their value than their 2005 gasoline-powered twins, according to price data from Black Book, a wholesale price guide.
For example, a used 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid had a wholesale price of $24,200 in early May, which was about 79 percent of its new-car sticker price. A used 2005 gasoline-powered Accord had a wholesale price of about $20,900, which was about 76 percent of its new-car sticker.
In early May, a used 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid had a wholesale price of $20,125, which was about 73 percent of its new-car sticker price. That compares with a used 2005 gasoline-powered Escape, which had a wholesale price of $16,150 -- about 67 percent of its new-car sticker price.
The Toyota Prius, which doesn't have a gasoline-powered twin, has retained its used-car value even more than the Accord or Escape. In fact, the wholesale price of a 2005 used Prius in May was more than its sticker price when it was sold new. A 2-year-old 2004 Prius in May had lost about $700 of it new-car value.
The Black Book value of the 2005 Prius in May was $22,700; the value of the 2004 Prius was $20,100. That compares with a new-car sticker price of $21,815, including shipping, for the 2005 Prius and $20,810 for the 2004.
Black Book Editor Ricky Beggs says the prices of hybrids are holding up well but notes that most of the vehicles are still fairly new.
He says one unknown that could dramatically affect used-vehicle prices in the future is the cost of replacement batteries. Hybrid vehicles operate by gasoline engine and a battery that charges and discharges when being driven.
Replacement batteries, which are not an issue at this point in the vehicles' life cycle, are expensive.
Toyota spokesman John McCandless says the company has not had any battery failures in its hybrids. The only batteries that have been replaced were those damaged when the vehicles were in accidents. The cost was covered by insurance, so the owner did not incur the direct cost.
The batteries are covered by warranties that span 10 years/100,000 miles in California and eight years/100,000 miles in other states.
He says a replacement battery would cost about $3,000 but predicts that by the time the first warranties expire, technological advances will have brought the prices down.
"The battery never fully charges and never fully depletes," he says. "That is by design."
Automotive Lease Guide, of Santa Barbara, Calif., which sets residual standards for the industry, does not release residual information on hybrids.
You may e-mail Arlena Sawyers at [email protected]