In a month when the cost of crude oil hits a record high and petrol prices are soaring, Honda IMA drivers, whose numbers are fast approaching 2,000, are enjoying motoring costs from over a decade ago.
The Civic IMA, with its petrol electric engine delivers diesel fuel economy, but at petrol prices, returning 57.8 miles per gallon.
Unleaded petrol would need to drop to 50p a litre - a price last seen in July 1994 - for a standard 1.6 petrol hatchback with a combined mpg of 35.3, to deliver the same cost per mile as an IMA over the standard 3 year 60,000 mile period.
*Source for Combined mpg - Test Drive Magazine November 2004
Fuel savings are set to rise further still over the coming months as some forecasters predict 90p per litre becoming a reality before the end of the year.
IMA drivers are not just saving pennies - the environment is also benefiting:
Linda O’Hara who runs the company cars for Budgens has bought 18 IMAs. These cars save nearly 26 tonnes - the equivalent weight of seven elephants of carbon dioxide every year based on 20,000 miles a year motoring. This is because the car produces ultra low emissions - 112 g/km compared to circa 165 g/km for standard petrol hatchbacks.
IMA vs Diesel?
Diesel advocates argue that when the depreciation, service and maintenance of the vehicles is taken into account, buying oil burners is still the most cost effective solution so it may come as a surprise to them that a recent report from Top Calc - a leading whole life cost provider - proves the IMA can beat the Golf, Focus and Astra diesel equivalents - in some cases by as much as £2,500 over 3 years 60,000 miles.*
Historically it has been assumed diesel cars, with a relatively high fuel economy, offered the cheapest form of motoring but new research by used car price experts, WiseBuyer’s has exploded that myth by pointing out that used car buyers have to pay between 8-12% more for a diesel vehicle - negating any initial fuel saving.
For company car drivers a 3% levy is also charged on their company car tax for driving diesel – unless the vehicle meets Euro 4 emissions - but with most manufacturers catching up with this target it seems inevitable that this caveat will disappear in the future.
The IMA is proving to be an increasingly popular option with fleet and private drivers alike, especially those who have to drive into London’s Congestion charge area because the car can travel in and out without paying the charge. With the boundaries likely to expand over the next few years the impact will become even greater. A driver who needs to enter the congestion charge area each day will save a further £1200 a year.
With the government looking to further reduce emissions and politicians backing hybrids as the most credible future before fuel cell transport becomes a reality, the future of Honda IMAs looks rosy - whatever the oil price.
Source for petrol prices: National Office of Statistics UK RPI - Unleaded petrol.
To read our in depth road test of the Honda Civic IMA [ click here ]Published 10 October 2004