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Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 09:08 AM   #1
 
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Hybrids - False Economy

Because of the high cost of gas, the Toyota Prius is the hot-selling new car. You see a lot of news stories about how people are buying hybrids because gas is so expensive.

I'm all for using less gas, but financially, it makes no sense to buy a Prius to save money.

Assuming you drive 15,000 miles a year, and gas costs $2.50 per gallon, you will only save $305/year if you buy a Prius instead of a Toyota Echo (55 combined MPG vs. 38 Combined MPG). But since the list price of the Prius is $10,500 more than the Echo, you're not saving any money.

There may be other reasons to buy a Prius, but saving money is not one of them. Am I missing something, or are buyers just not thinking things through?
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 09:13 AM   #2
 
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

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There may be other reasons to buy a Prius, but saving money is not one of them. Am I missing something, or are buyers just not thinking things through?
No you're correct. I've often wondered this myself.

Renting vs. Owning for periods under 5 years also fall into this false economics.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 09:52 AM   #3
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

In SoCal, it's kinda "chic" to drive one.

My aunt bought the Honda Accord Hybrid. Really nice, all the bells and whistles come standard, but while it's a hybrid, it's gas mileage is not much better than a standard Accord. What really cracks me up in the funny/sad category is that new GMC truck with a hybrid engine: a whopping 19 MPG! :P
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 10:07 AM   #4
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Yeah, I came to the same conclusion. I really like the idea, but it would be a really terrible financial move for us... driving typically under 5k miles a year. If the price were only slightly more than the car we would otherwise buy (a nice inexpensive $10K Hyundai Accent) I could justify it as supporting a good idea, but not at more than TWICE what we'd pay for the car! Yikes.

(One of the many good things about paying cash for a car is that it makes you realize just how expensive they are...!)
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 10:39 AM   #5
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

By no means is this a real incentive to buy a hybrid but don't you get a tax break on it? I, personally, am happy with a non-hybrid vehicle with good gas mileage. I see the whole hybrid craze as more of a "new gadget" or trend than anything economical.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 10:54 AM   #6
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Of course, if the tax incentive stays in place, as economies of scale kick in and hybrids drop in price, it will only take one oil field in Saudi Arabia to run dry for them to be a steal! I seriously considered it when a local government agency was selling their hybrid fleet used, low mileage, for a real good price. The deal breaker was that the tax break was only good on new car purchases.

It is a question as to whether hybrids will have a long enough life cycle (i.e. will oil supplies last long enough) for them to ever be worth it as technology costs lower and gas prices rise. I'm betting they will, just not now. I salute all the early adopters for helping make my future vehicle cheaper!
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:02 AM   #7
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Quote:
By no means is this a real incentive to buy a hybrid but don't you get a tax break on it? *I, personally, am happy with a non-hybrid vehicle with good gas mileage. *I see the whole hybrid craze as more of a "new gadget" or trend than anything economical.
You can get a $2,000 tax credit for 2005 but it drops to $500 next year. Does anyone own or know anything about Chev new Equinox? It's similar to a Ford Escape and is advertised in my town for $19,800. I have one of the old GM credit cards which allows me to use the full amount of my card rebate on any new Chev vehicle which totals to about $2,700 right now. This mpg is advertised at 19/25 on the Equinox.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:06 AM   #8
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

My friends just bought one and they say the MPG rating must have been done downhill with a tailwind on 109 octane gas, because they haven't gotten anywhere close to it.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:17 AM   #9
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

There have been several articles criticizing the mileage claims for hybrids. The can manufacturers counter by saying the buyers are 'driving the car wrong'. Apparently you have to featherfoot them to get the good mpg. Super...then can we get a real comparison with the gas equivalent thats also been 'driven correctly'?

The same problem occurs when trying to get a diesel in a truck. I wanted one like you better believe in my expedition, but they wanted almost $4k for the diesel option...given that I've put a whopping 40k miles on the truck in over 5 years, I'd still be looking for a payback...

There was a nice review of the new toyota highlander hybrid by one of the local newspaper writers. He was getting mid 30's mpg in regular, possibly 'incorrect' driving and said the performance was great. Mid 30's with a big v6 is pretty decent. IIRC the cost was in the low to mid 30's for the truck, so not a huge uptick in price over the gas model.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:24 AM   #10
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

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My friends just bought one and they say the MPG rating must have been done downhill with a tailwind on 109 octane gas, because they haven't gotten anywhere close to it.
That figures. It's just hard to get super gas milage out of a v6. In theory new cars are suppose get better milage after a break in period. I've never been much on theory though. Maybe I will just keep my old clunker.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:27 AM   #11
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Same sort of false economy applies to solar power...people talk about it as a "green" resource but manufacturing the cells is extremely energy-intensive, something like 50% of the total lifetime output of the cell. Where did that energy come from? Plus there's all the chemical byproducts that are produced during the manufacturing process...
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:28 AM   #12
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Quote:
My friends just bought one and they say the MPG rating must have been done downhill with a tailwind on 109 octane gas, because they haven't gotten anywhere close to it.
Laurencewill:

This is your 16th. post already today!
All done on different subjects, and by the way, mostly very articulate.
I don't want to discourage you from posting, because mostly you make good sense, especially for your age.
Just a note to let you know to never quit your job.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 11:54 AM   #13
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Caught me, ex-Jarhead! Running network scans leaves me with some downtime. I guess I could organize my desk, it's a little messy! I did fix the department fax machine and a printer today, so I haven't been totally shiftless!
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 12:24 PM   #14
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

I've been looking at the Toyota Highlanders - I like the vehicle anyway, so I might go ahead and buy the non-hybrid model. Haven't decided yet.

Part of the cost-benefit analysis is in the perception, for me. I can better stomach an extra outlay once and be done, than be reminded every time I pay $30 to fill my tank of how much money I'm burning up.

Also, no one mentioned the altruistic if mostly fruitless aspect of doing your part to save the planet. The do-gooder feel-good effect?
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 12:44 PM   #15
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Always drive a full size pickup-truck. Not much on gas mi., 17-18mpg. Once I got used to throwing everything in the back and hauling "stuff" it was a "must have". Use it constantly. Usually drive them till they fall apart (170K on current one). Having it paid for the last five years greatly improves the economy of driving it.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 01:09 PM   #16
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Sheryl...I'll save you the 'free registration' at the local newspaper...this was AP broadcasted so I dont think this is a copyright violation...

MARK GLOVER: New Toyota hybrid SUV gets mileage, power
The Sacramento Bee
Last Updated 11:54 am PDT Tuesday, April 19, 2005
(SH) - Tree huggers of the world: Rejoice, your sport-utility vehicle is here.

Well, maybe not. There certainly are dedicated environmentalists who probably would not be caught anywhere near an SUV. But I submit that many would be tempted by the 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid.

A week in a preproduction THH convinced me it would be the vehicle most likely to roll off the assembly line if the Sierra Club were in charge of production at Toyota Motor Corp.

However, I don't think Sierra Club's crew would have slapped a price of - deep breath now - $33,030 on a midsize SUV capable of transporting seven. That's the hefty starting price on the two-wheel-drive version that I tested. Opt for the four-wheel-drive Highlander Hybrid, and the starting fare climbs to $34,430.

Considering the good gas mileage and super-low emissions, isn't that too much money for this vehicle? Given what's in it, no. In fact, it's a comparative steal, compared with the Toyota Prius that starts at a shade less than $21,000.

Like the Prius, the Highlander Hybrid has Toyota's wondrous Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain technology.

But where the Prius has a comparatively wimpy 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, 106-horsepower gas engine, the Highlander comes with a stout 3.3-liter V-6 with 208 horsepower. Two electric motor-generators on the front-wheel-drive SUV can boost peak horsepower to 268.

What does that mean for drivers? For one, it means dusting off other passenger cars and trucks trying to run you off the road as you attempt to merge into freeway traffic. I couldn't get enough of this. I somehow resisted the temptation to lean out the window and scream, "Green power!"

Performance is enhanced by the presence of variable valve timing in the V-6 and a sophisticated electronic throttle control system that wrings the most out what's under the hood.

One thing I never got used to was starting the vehicle. Turn the key in the ignition, and you're greeted with complete silence. No matter how many times I did this, I was sure I had broken the gas-electric SUV.

The only tip-off that everything is OK is a little dash light that reads, "ready." The silence is the result of the Highlander Hybrid not wasting energy until it's time to roll. And if you roll slowly, the electric motors do the work quietly. The gas engine kicks in only when the power curve becomes too much for the electrical propulsion system alone.

Like other full hybrids, the gas-electric Highlander's regenerative braking system and coasting enable its electric motors to function as generators, pumping some kinetic energy into the SUV's 288-volt nickel metal hydride battery pack.

Other mechanical goodies include an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission - which operates seamlessly - electronically enhanced brakes, vehicle stability control and traction control - all standard.

While you're computing what you might save as gas prices ascend ever nearer to $3 a gallon, it's worth noting that the Highlander Hybrid's $33,030 starting cost also includes a long list of standard convenience features. On the list: air conditioning with a cabin filtration system, power windows and door locks, a six-speaker sound system, remote keyless entry, a tonneau cover, cruise control, a roof rack and rear privacy glass.

The "green" Highlander also has standard equipment that is either optional or not available on a conventional, gas-powered Highlander - including an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar supports, front-seat side air bags and an engine immobilizer.

The tester looked good, too, with chrome accents front and rear and a nicely sculpted cargo-loading area.

Here's the scary part: The gas-electric Highlander is rated at 33 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway (when the gas engine does the hard work), but my combined average for the week came in at 34 mpg.

It's not in my nature to baby a test car, and maybe this preproduction model had some extra engineering. But a 34 mpg average in a midsize SUV is almost beyond belief.

One thing you should not do in the Highlander Hybrid: Transport seven people.

Yes, Toyota is loudly broadcasting the fact that this is the auto industry's first seven-passenger hybrid SUV, but I'm urging you to resist the temptation. It's a squeeze, enough to make me wish they had thrown out the third row seat. Happily, however, it folds flat to the floor to make ample room for cargo.

Toyota had to boost production of its Prius passenger car to handle its high demand in the United States. Expect the Highlander Hybrid to be just as popular when it starts showing up in numbers in June.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 01:42 PM   #17
 
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

I'm a bit of a minimalist, as I imagine many other of you ER folks are, so the other thing that bothers me about hybrids is their added complexity. Essentially they have two complete engine systems. That's too much stuff to go wrong.

I see hybrids as a stop-gap measure that will work until we have electric, hydrogen or some other single-fuel cars available. I hope our Toyota Echo lasts until I can buy a super-simple electric car that plugs in at night.

If there is a move towards a different technology, the resale value of a hybrid would drop pretty fast.
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 01:50 PM   #18
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

The only problem with all electric vehicles is that theres probably a coal fired plant somewhere making the electricity...and the way electric rates have gone up here in CA, I probably wouldnt find it much of a panacea.

Hydrogen costs more to extract and deliver than the energy it produces. We need some strong technical improvements there to make it viable. Besides, do you really want all the moron drivers we see every day driving miniature hindenbergs?

I guess the good news is that since its flat as a pancake where we live for about 30 miles in any direction, I could probably get by with a bicycle or an electric skateboard as a second vehicle, and with our annual mileage running less than 7k none of it matters too much...

I was reading an interesting article regarding fuel cells...they sure have their issues but the idea this particular author had was intriguing...you'd have a good sized fuel cell in your mid size SUV and when you got home you'd plug the house into the car and the car would provide the bulk of your heating, cooling and power requirements. Some sort of smaller backup system in the house would keep things moving along while you werent home. Works great for people who arent home during the day but perhaps not so well for a situation where one stays home and one goes to work...
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 02:40 PM   #19
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Here's how to make this worth the money: EBAY!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...category=43925


Anybody know a good mechanic?
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy
Old 04-26-2005, 02:45 PM   #20
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Re: Hybrids - False Economy

Heyyyyy...its just fine...just never look at the right side of it.
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