This is a question I have asked myself numerous times. Hybrids typically carry a premium of a few to several thousand dollars over their conventions counterparts, causing one to wonder if the addition of said trim can be justified. Having read MojoMotors' excellent post on the subject, I decided to do my own analysis.
For our example, we will look only at the Honda Accord. In the United States, the base Honda Accord sedan has a starting price of $22,105 and when equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission (because racecar!) will deliver 24 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 27 mpg.
The Honda Accord Hybrid has three emblems differentiating in from the standard model. Each of these costs $31.75 for a total of $95.25. Having been unable to find the weight for these items, we will assume each weighs 2 ounces, including the adhesive necessary to affix it to the vehicle, for a total of 6 ounces or 0.375 lbs.
The standard Accord has a curb weight of 3192 lbs which brings our hybridized car up to a road-crushing 3192.375 lbs, an increase of 0.011748120301%. This will have an effect on fuel economy.
To simplify further analysis , we will take any additional aerodynamic drag from the new badges to be negligible and assume that fuel consumption is directly proportional to vehicle weight. The newly environmentally friendly Honda will therefor eke out 26.99682838012445 mpg on the combined EPA cycle.
If the average American drives 13,476 miles per year, our Accord hybrid will consume 499.16974728488007 gallons of fuel yearly, 0.05863617376896 gallons more than the base model, costing its driver 20.522660819136¢ every year.
As a result of all this, we must conclude that the hybrid trim is not worth the cost of admission in any situation and is perhaps best avoided altogether for fear of being mistaken for being mistaken as a smelly, tree hugging hippy.
Stay thirsty, my friends.