I previously assessed the economical merits of driving a hybrid car. The vehicles I reviewed were more wallet friendly and not frequently seen in communities whose annual income exceed $200,000. Mazdas and Priuses aren’t typically considered luxury cars. If you cruise down Highway 101 in the greater Los Angeles area, the luxury cars you see are Teslas, Mercedes AMGs, Hummers, Maseratis, and high-end SUVs. If you stroll down any of the tree-lined neighborhoods of Boston, you’ll see Range Rovers galore. Among this wide range of luxury vehicles, only a handful reflect consideration to the environment. This leads up to our next question: if you can afford to splurge on a luxury car, should you aim to be environmentally responsible as well? After all, wealth and environmentally conscious is always morally superior, right? ? This is where hybrid vehicles and electric cars come in. Is it worth it to buy a luxury environmentally conscious vehicle?
I recently received a flyer in the mail advertising the new BMW X5 xDrive 40e Hybrid SUV from our local BMW dealer. They were willing to deliver the SUV to your doorstep to test drive! Business must be tough these days, especially with sub $2/gallon gasoline in most of the country (not in California!) This level of service for luxury vehicles is actually not rare at all—Ferrari dealers will deliver your vehicle and pick it up for service from your doorstep. However, I never considered BMW’s to be in that league. Nothing screams more of moral superiority than a 5000 lb luxury hybrid SUV delivered to your doorstep.
I looked into the specifications of this monstrosity: luxury German parent company, assembled in South Carolina, $63,000 base price tag, with fancy Bang & Olufsen speakers. Acceleration from 0-60 is less than 7 seconds, and the electric motor can clock in somewhere between 13 to 18 miles. Prominent logo in the rear hatch that proudly reminds others on the road that this monstrosity has an electric engine as well.
Does this car save you gas?
A driving range of 13-18 miles on electric power sounds absolutely horrible. While I hate commuting, I still ended up living about 13 miles away from my workplace. If I owned that car, I’d still have to eat some gas on every roundtrip commute. If I travel between offices and the hospital, I’d run out of electric power halfway through the day. You have to recharge your charge every single night to make sure the battery stays charged.
BMW says that the average errand involves running to the grocery and department stores and is less than 10 miles so the X5 Hybrid is covered. While this may be true, why should anyone ever need to haul 5000 lbs of vehicle to buy groceries? No one should ever lug around that much weight to buy groceries even if you’re buying 100lbs of dog food!
You’d be better off driving a smaller, more fuel efficient car if your sole aim was to save gas.
Who should own this car?
All practicality aside, the BMW X5 is actually a very nicely designed SUV. The engine under the hood and the interior design exudes luxury. This car makes one of two statements about its driver:
- I am filthy rich and enjoy luxury cars or
- I am in over my head and paying for this car’s lease through my biweekly pay check.
I’d say that if you’re going to drop $60+k on a luxury SUV, there are far worse vehicles (read less reliable and less practical) to spend your money on. The hybrid aspect of the car isn’t going to save you much money, but sounds a whole lot more practical than driving a hybrid Porsche.
Since I am a firm believer of stealth wealth, I would probably not own this car under any circumstance. With a fancy car, I’d want to make sure to keep it in the garage to protect it from the elements. I’d be wary of it being in the supermarket parking lot, lest some careless customer slams their car door onto mine. I’d worry about people breaking into the car, since a luxury car attracts attention.
If this car does strike your fancy, make sure that it represents a relatively minor portion of your wealth. Any luxury splurge like this shouldn’t exceed 1% of your total net worth. For a $60,000 car, this means that you should have at least $6 million of net worth. I understand that this is an incredibly conservative assessment, but this is a pricey splurge.
Would you buy a BMW X5 Hybrid?