Hybrid vehicles use more energy than traditional petrol-powered cars and even some 'gas-guzzling' 4x4s, claims a new report published in the US.
CNW Marketing Research spent two years gathering US market data on how much energy a car uses over its lifetime, from initial development right through to disposal, then converted that energy usage into a cost per mile figure.
The report found that hybrids such as Toyota's Prius had an energy cost-per-mile figure of £1.83, while the Jeep Wrangler off-roader's was just 34p.
According to the survey, the most energy-efficient car was the Scion xB – a Toyota-owned American supermini – at 27p per mile, while the Maybach was the least efficient at £6.51.
The cost-per-mile figure includes transportation costs to the US, however – a key reason why the most energy expensive models were European and Japanese imports.
Development costs are also a factor, another reason why hybrids, still in their early years, could end up more expensive than conventional cars.
Art Spinella of CNW Marketing said: 'If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy or depleting oil supplies, then it is perfectly logical to consider high fuel economy vehicles.
'However if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional models over their lifetime.'
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