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Ferrari to release a hybrid car

The Ferrari's new petrol-electric hybrid 599 is seen displayed at the Italian pavilion at the site of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai on April 27, 2010. The Italian carmaker's 570 model will have two electric motors running alongside a 12-cylinder gas engine.

This final note today. The sustainable-minded among you who also like to drive really, really fast can take heart from Ferrari today. Businessweek reports the Italian super-car maker is coming out with a hybrid. Two electric motors running alongside a 12-cylinder gas engine.

Price tag: more than $850,000.

Which raises two questions. One: Do people who can pay $850,000 for a car really care how much they're paying for gas? And two: Does one of you have a spreadsheet that you can help me out with and figure out the payback period for this thing?

How long it would take to save on gas to make up for the sticker price?

Thanks.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
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All hybrids are not econoslugs. Adding electric motors to high performance cars, like the Ferrari 599, is intended to provide additional horsepower and torque for faster acceleration. Several F1 racers use this same technology to gain acceleration advantage over non-equipped competitors. Actually, my 2004 Honda Insight hybrid functions on the same principle, and over it's lifespan it has gotten 44 mpg.

The Honda Insight (in your case "Honda-Ferrari"), although innovative, was not designed with sport performance as the main goal.

2004 Honda Insight 1.0L, 67hp, 44mpg, 2 passenger + 16 cu.ft. cargo space. ~$20,250 - $1,500 gov. incentive [est.] = $18,750

For comparison:

2004 Hyundai Elantra 2.0L, 138hp, ~30mpg, 5 passenger + 13 cu.ft. cargo space. ~$14,000

Comparing these two cars, the break-even mileage is around 115,000 miles. At an average of 15,000 miles per year that's over 7.5 years to make-up the difference in price. Meaning your Honda only recently began saving you money. In addition, there is the interest lost to the initial $4,750 up-front cost.

In my opinion, enjoying the ride of a larger, more practical, and more powerful car, like the Elantra, seems to be a wiser (and more economical) choice. Plus you can bring your friends.

The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta (current most powerful Ferrari V12) is reported to achieve 16 mpg. A 40% improvement (as claimed by the Business Week article) would put the new hybrid Ferrari at ~22.5 mpg. Assuming it requires premium gasoline for the high compression engine, it will NEVER make up for the huge price tag vs. an economy car that averages mid to upper 20's mpg and uses regular gasoline.

However... for fun, comparing the hybrid Ferrari to a Chevrolet Suburban 2500 4WD (~$45,000), which is one of the worst performers at ~13 mpg average ---> the Ferrari's savings would break-even at around 7.7 million miles... if it never needs a tune-up.

To put it in perspective, this would require driving at 200 miles per hour continuously for ~4.5 years with no pit stops (or ~16 years at 55 mph).

I think it's a good argument to start the Indianapolis 7.7 Million.

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