Ok, We Were Wrong: Chevrolet Cruze Diesel Actually Takes 18 Years To Break Even*

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
ok we were wrong chevrolet cruze diesel actually takes 18 years to break even

Now that Chevrolet has revised their EPA mileage estimate for the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, from 42 mpg to 46 mpg, we need to revise our own estimates.

Initially, we called for a break-even period of 115 years, based on TrueCar’s formula for calculating the break-even period on fuel economy packages. For argument’s sake, we used TrueCar’s formula of driving 15,000 miles per year, though we used Chicago, IL as our sample for gas and diesel prices. The lowest prices found on GasBuddy at the time of the original article was $3.50 for regular and $3.80 for diesel respectively. For consistency’s sake, we’ll stick with that, though obviously the break-even point will change along with fuel price fluctuations.

Since city and combined figures haven’t been announced yet for the Cruze diesel, I decided to only use the highway figures for a similarly equipped gasoline 2LT . As the calculations show, the Cruze diesel does use a smaller quantity of fuel annually, but that’s offset by the price premium one is required to pay for diesel. Using the initial 42 mpg highway rating yielded a mere $22 in annual fuel savings and a $2,550 price gap. At that rate, it would take over a century -roughly 115 years – for a potential owner to “break even” on the Cruze diesel. But with the 46 mpg rating, the fuel savings grows to $142 annually. This shortens the break-even time to about 18 years; still fairly long, but much shorter than it would take compared to opting for a Cruze Eco. The reason for this is because at 42 mpg, fuel economy increases roughly 10 percent, while fuel costs rise by about nine percent. It’s a wash. But at 42 mpg, fuel economy improves by nearly 20 percent so you have a fuel-cost adjusted increase that goes from one percent to 11 percent, thus cutting the payback time by a factor of almost ten.

And now, to pre-empt some of the questions/criticisms from last time: yes, this analysis is incomplete due to only having the highway figure. I am aware of that, but I wanted to show that TTAC is not afraid to revise their predictions accordingly, in an open and transparent fashion. When the final numbers are released, we can do a proper comparison with the Jetta TDI (and maybe the Mazda6 diesel as well). I’m also aware that people buy diesels for the driving experience (low-end torque etc), but I’ll leave that one to Alex Dykes or whoever ends up reviewing the car.

Data below, for anyone interested

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2 of 127 comments
  • DenverMike DenverMike on Apr 19, 2013

    Diesels are a fetish at this level and a 335d, I can understand. It's clear the economics will never support diesel engines in anything not pulling a trailer heavier that the vehicle itself. Especially when you consider all expenses down the road and hopefully, no unscheduled (and out of warranty) maintenance. Yikers!

  • Philtimmes Philtimmes on Feb 11, 2015

    I beg to differ, and I have found the EPA numbers to be lacking, I regularly see numbers exceeding the EPA estimates, Currently showing 68MPG, and having a max MPG average for 50 miles, of 74.6MPG, I have put 28096 miles on my Cruze Turbo Diesel, and have used 777.8 Gallons of Diesel, and this includes hours at a time of Idling (I practically live in this car), putting my average fuel economy at 36.12MPG, including a logged 144 hours of idling.

  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)
  • Tassos And all 3 of them were ordered by Fisker's mother.Seriously, after Fisker's DISMAL record of UTTER FAILURE in the past, only a GOD DAMNED MORON would order this one.
  • RHD Any truth to the unconfirmed rumor that the new, larger model will be called the bZ6X? We could surmise that with a generous back seat it certainly should be!
  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.https://www.lhd.com.au/lhd-insights/australian-road-death-statistics/