Saving The Environment And Your Money With Hybrid Cars

As the number of hybrid cars continues expanding in Malaysia, comparing them becomes even more daunting. For a regular drive, trying to make sense of all the numbers can be akin to understanding brain surgery.

However, has done the homework and simplifies the task for you to help you make the decision of purchasing a hybrid car much easier.

Zooming in to Malaysia

In Malaysia, sales of hybrid cars have been growing ever since the elimination of import and excise duties on hybrid vehicle models below 2,000cc. The policy was introduced under Budget 2011 as part of the Government’s initiative to help reduce the Nation’s carbon footprint, and is effective until 31 December 2013, which is about two weeks from now – until further notice.

To better understand how the move had benefited hybrid car buyers in Malaysia, you’ll only have to look at the price of a Toyota Prius, which used to cost approx. RM175,000 before the exemption and is now RM139,915.30 – about a 20% drop in price.

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According to figures from the Malaysian Automotive Association, the total sales of hybrid cars in Malaysia had surged drastically from a negligible 322 units in 2010, to 8,403 units in 2011 and 15,355 units in 2012 following the introduction of the duties exemption.  Though car makers are now calling for the duties exemption to be extended beyond 2014, there has been little news from the Government to date, though a formal announcement is expected to be made with the release of a new National Automotive Policy by the end of 2013.



As for car buyers who do not wish to take chances and are actively seeking to beat the duties exemption deadline and get a hybrid car before 31 December 2013, it may be worthwhile to note that in 2012, the three largest marques in hybrid car sales in Malaysia were Honda (8,712 units), Toyota (5,653 units) and Lexus (979 units). The present line-ups of hybrid car models under 2,000cc from these “Big Three” are as follow:

hybrid prices
* price with insurance

** price without insurance


Key takeaways:

  • Not all hybrid cars are exempted from import and excise duties. To benefit from the duties exemption, you need to buy a hybrid car under 2,000cc.
  • Honda, Toyota and Lexus are by no means the only car makers offering hybrid cars in Malaysia.  But if you’re one of the car owners who believe the most popular the car, the better the economy of scale for maintenance and services; you may wish to consider the “Big Three” for now.
  • Unless otherwise stated by the Government, the duties exemption will expire at the end of 2013. If you are looking to get a hybrid car, you may want to take action now.

How long until your hybrid pays off?

Is buying a hybrid car more “worth it” than buying a conventional car? This is the most common question asked by people considering a hybrid car.

For those seeking a holistic formula to help answer the above question, you may be disappointed to learn that it is actually more complex than you think.  But if you would like to attempt to calculate the financial implications of buying a hybrid car against a conventional car, these are the steps you could take:


Step 1: Calculate the cost difference between the hybrid car you desire and the conventional car you would buy should you decide against a hybrid car. 

Example: If you are considering between a hybrid Toyota Prius C (RM97,313) and conventional Toyota Vios 1.5G (88,500), what is the cost difference?

 RM97,313 – RM88,500 = RM8,813.

Step 2: If you wish to, you may want to take into consideration the cost to replace a hybrid car battery. However, hybrid car batteries are reportedly built to last for the cars’ lifespan, so this may not be necessary.

                         Cost to replace hybrid car batterieshybrid battery table

Information on Honda based on official published rates. Other information obtained directly from show galleries.

Step 3: Calculate how much you can save on fuel each month using the difference in fuel consumption between your desired hybrid car and conventional car. As most car makers in Malaysia do not list fuel consumption figures online, and you may have to secure the required data directly from the car showroom personnel.


Fuel consumptions of Prius C is 25.6 km/l, while a Vios is 15.8 km/l.

Average mileage per month: 1,000 km



Step 4: Now, you can calculate how many months you’ll need to recoup the extra cost you’ll spend on a hybrid car compared to a conventional car by dividing the costs from Steps 1 and 2 by the monthly fuel savings from Step 3. If you intend to own the hybrid car for longer than the calculated results, it’s financially worthwhile to get the hybrid car.

How long will it take to recoup the cost of a Prius C, compared to a Vios 1.5H?

RM8,813 ÷ RM71.40 = 123.4 months


How long will it take to recoup the cost of buying a Prius C compared to a Vios 1.5H and the cost of replacing a hybrid car battery at least once?

(RM8,813 + RM7,200) ÷ RM71.40 = 224.3 months

Key takeaways:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all formula to ascertain if it makes more financial sense to buy a hybrid car or a conventional car. For accurate comparison, you need to size up the exact hybrid car model against the conventional car model of your choice, just as you would if you’re considering two conventional car models.
  • Generally, you will recoup the extra money you fork out to buy a hybrid car faster when:

–          there is smaller cost difference between the hybrid car and conventional car you are considering;

–          there is larger fuel economy difference between the hybrid car and conventional car you are considering; and

–          you drive longer distance (i.e. the more you drive, the more fuel savings you get from your hybrid car).

  • For even more accurate comparison between a hybrid car and a conventional car, you should ideally be using figures encompassing the prices of the cars with their respective bank loan interests. To get updated loan rates for some of the most popular car models in Malaysia, go to

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