Social Cost of Carbon and the Pruis

Even when accounting for the social cost of carbon, the Prius doesn’t make economic sense versus the Honda Civic for my driving habits.

Gallon of gas produces: 0.00907 metric tons of CO2 (20 pounds)
Social cost of CO2 (low): $39 / metric ton (US Govt estimate)
Social cost of CO2 (high): $209/ metric ton (mean + 2 stdev of peer-reviewed study)
Extra gas used in Civic over Prius: (313 – 199) = 114 gallons/year
Extra CO2 produced by Civic over Prius = 144 * 0.00907 metric tons/gallon = 1.306

Extra social cost per year of Civic over Prius (low) = 1.306 * $39 = $51/year
Extra social cost per year of Civic over Prius (high) = 1.306 * $209 = $273/year

Over 5 years, the Prius costs $1600/more than Civic, which is $320/year. Even the high estimate for social cost of carbon ($273/year) doesn’t make up the difference.

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