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Old 09-28-2008, 04:17 PM   #41
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Nope, this is well before the ear biting era.
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Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:18 PM   #42
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Why not buy a last year's model at year end? Those are pretty good deals, better than a $2000 rebate. Also, buying a Honda certified used car from the dealer is a way to get a used car that is reliable.
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:22 PM   #43
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This month's consumer reports has a nice article about the total 5-year cost of new vs used cars, and it also compares the 5-year cost of ownership of Civic vs Toyota hybrids. I'd go check it out at your library before making a major decision.

I do know that we've bought our last two cars new (Hondas) and that I've never regretted a penny spent on them. They're the right cars for us. I do know that I wish we had been able to wait a little longer so that we could have bought gently-used ones -- weirdly enough, Honda changed the cabin configuration on the models we bought, the year that we bought them, and provided significantly improved head and legroom. We wanted to buy gently-used cars, but the prior year models weren't comfortable for us. And waiting also wasn't an option (my car was unregisterable due to emissions problems, though still going strong at 23 y.o.; DH's car was about to die, at 18 y.o.) So it was new cars for us.

Me, I'm holding out for the Chevy Volt (or the Toyota/Honda equivalent). I really, really want a plug-in for DH's commuting vehicle.
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:31 PM   #44
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I hope you've checked your electric rates if you're looking at a plug in car.

At our usage level, electricity is at 31c a kw. Its probably a bit cheaper in other parts of the country, but unless you live near a nuke or hydro power you're probably looking at some serious change.

Too bad because a plug in with 15-20 miles of range would be perfect for me. A few times a week I go somewhere thats 30-50 miles away but 98% of my use is <10 miles.

But it'd cost me more in electricity than it does in gas.
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:35 PM   #45
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I hope you've checked your electric rates if you're looking at a plug in car.

At our usage level, electricity is at 31c a kw. Its probably a bit cheaper in other parts of the country, but unless you live near a nuke or hydro power you're probably looking at some serious change.
This is true. I would expect, though, that if PHEVs start really gaining market share, you'll see more of a push to "peak pricing" models which mean low rates for charging overnight. The more electric demand the utilities can move into the overnight hours when they have plenty of excess capacity, the more they can avoid needing to build new costly power plants. The utilities certainly have an incentive to want to shift demand into the overnight hours, and such a pricing model would convince consumers to do it.

Right now our electric rates are pretty much a flat 11 cents per kWh. Unlike a lot of Texans getting boned by deregulation, we don't have to deal with that since our city buys wholesale co-op power.
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:48 PM   #46
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Cool. Our basic rate is cheap but we've got a 5 tiered rate structure and our current use is just within tier 3, so any additional use is at that price.

We have a day/night plan, and I need to look at that. The one time I looked at it the day rates were really much higher than the regular rate plan but the night time rates were super cheap.

I'm sure some team of actuaries has made sure I'll feel molested when I get the bill, one way or the other.
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:02 PM   #47
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Even at your cost of 31c/Kw I suspect you would save.
Our cost for electricity is 8c/Kw so it is a no brainer for us (off peak is 5.7c/Kw).
As the only car I know the stats for is the Tesla Roadster, lets try that one.
Battery pack of 52Kw will take you 225 miles. So approximately 4.3 miles per Kw.
At 31cents a Kw you could go 43 miles for $3.10. Pretty steep but still less than gas for a vehicle that gets 43mpg.
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:06 PM   #48
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Since we're going down the alternative-fuel route, here's another option:
- A Ford Taurus powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) gets 21 miles per therm.
(this is a substantial car, not a wispy econo-box). (see this Kansas state comparison of alternative-fuel vehicles).
- The conversion of a standard gasoline car to CNG costs $4000 to $5000. These conversions can run on either gasoline OR CNG. USe the gasoline when you are on long trips away from your available high-pressure NG, and run off NG the other 95% of the time. The high-pressure pump to let you fill the car at home costs another couple grand.
- The average price for a therm of NG in the US is about $1.80 (see this chart. A therm = approx 100 cubic feet, the costs shown are for 1000 cu ft). So, your fuel cost would be approx 1.80/21 = 8.6 cents per mile.

The average cost for electricity in the US is 10.6 cents per kWh . So, if the Tesla roadster has a battery with a 56 kWh capacity, it costs $5.94 to "fill the tank", and it will go 225 miles. That's 2.6 cents per mile. Oh, wait, here's some small print we should see: The battery is good for "> 500 recharges". Yikes! That's supposed to be okay? Replacing the battery every three years is going to cost how much?

In comparison, a gasoline powered car (25 mpg, gasoline at $4) costs 16 cents per mile in fuel.

The CNG conversion can make a lot of sense if you want/need a real car (that can carry 4 people and groceries), if you might want to tow a light trailer, if you might want to take it on trips and be able to fill it with gasoline, if you'd like to save approx 1/2 in fuel costs, and be able to get it repaired at any regular mechanic. Total costs (conversion + high pressure pump) of about $6000 over the cost of a "regular" car (and the slight loss of utility from the space taken by the CNG tank). It would take about 75,000 miles of driving to break even for these costs--after that, it's all money in the bank.

It's not for everybody, but it could make sense for a lot of folks.
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:13 PM   #49
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Don't forget about safety in a newer car--side airbags and air curtains, etc. I'd buy a new one now.
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Old 09-28-2008, 08:22 PM   #50
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Oh, wait, here's some small print we should see: The battery is good for "> 500 recharges". Yikes! That's supposed to be okay? Replacing the battery every three years is going to cost how much?
The batteries are estimated to give you 100,000 miles of full performance driving (Tesla Motors - charging & batteries), with some degradation after that (so you would get a 200, 180, maybe 160 mile range).
Now, if you drive 100,000 miles in a three year period and want to have the full 220 mile range, yes, you would need to replace the battery by the end of the third year.
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:21 PM   #51
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The frontal airbags have gotten significantly better? We talking about the multi-stage/depowered ones? I wasn't aware that they made a big difference (not that I was looking).
No, I mean side bags in the doors, plus so called side curtain bags that are usually in the side posts and deploy to protect your head in a side impact. I think her 14 yer old car would likely have nothing besides front bags.

Ha
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:33 PM   #52
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Sorry - - I would say to buy now. My reasons are:
  • Should it break down and need major repairs, you would have little choice but to buy a new car immediately and you might not get the best deal under those circumstances.
I'd say that if he's planning to buy a hybrid, he won't be getting any "best deal" anyway. Those cars are in high demand and will go for sticker price.

Unless you drive a considerable number of miles a year, you won't make up the incremental cost of a hybrid (even with the rebate), although perhaps you're buying it to "make a statement" rather than for purely financial reasons.

I'd keep your car another year, and when it requires a repair greater than some threshold you set, go pay sticker for your new hybrid.

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Old 09-28-2008, 09:35 PM   #53
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No, I mean side bags in the doors, plus so called side curtain bags that are usually in the side posts and deploy to protect your head in a side impact. I think her 14 yer old car would likely have nothing besides front bags.

Ha
You may be right about that. My 8 year old car has side airbags in the doors but I think they were fairly new at the time.
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Old 09-28-2008, 10:14 PM   #54
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I think her 14 yer old car would likely have nothing besides front bags.
A 14 year old car might not even have passenger air bags.

My 14 year SUV had airbags but the prior year only had a driver airbag.
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Old 09-29-2008, 03:35 PM   #55
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A 14 year old car might not even have passenger air bags.
My 14 year SUV had airbags but the prior year only had a driver airbag.
As CFB hinted, I think airbags are intended to save people who wouldn't wear a seatbelt in the first place-- sort of an antidote to a strong Darwin-Award contender's lifestyle. But if you wear a seatbelt then I think airbags cause more problems than they avoid. They're an overrated safety feature and I wish they had a kill switch.

They encourage bad habits, too. Our kid's driving instructor taught her to put her hands on the wheel at 4 & 8 specifically to avoid breaking her arms on the airbag (or her nose when her hands were slammed into her face by the airbag). Then they push-pull the wheel to keep their forearms from going over top of the wheel and coming within the airbag's kill radius.

I appreciate that new drivers have to drive a certain way to pass the road test, but she's more dangerous trying to steer the car than she'd be injured if the airbag deployed.

Imagine yourself cranking on the wheel to rotate it 360-720 degrees in a U-turn or a parking lot (or for other recreational reasons). Now imagine accomplishing the same feat with a 4&8 push-pull. You ol' pharts more experienced drivers should try a day of driving with your hands at 4&8, and push/pull never to exceed 3&9. It'll drive you nuts within six blocks of starting the car.

When she passes her road test, though, I'll teach her to steer with her knees. That should resolve most of the issues...

I'm a big fan of ABS and crumple zones, though.
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Old 09-29-2008, 03:39 PM   #56
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Get a newer, but not new car. Hybrids continue to be expensive, no dealing on those. Why not buy an efficient import that's not a hybrid?
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Old 09-29-2008, 06:42 PM   #57
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This is true. I would expect, though, that if PHEVs start really gaining market share, you'll see more of a push to "peak pricing" models which mean low rates for charging overnight. The more electric demand the utilities can move into the overnight hours when they have plenty of excess capacity, the more they can avoid needing to build new costly power plants. The utilities certainly have an incentive to want to shift demand into the overnight hours, and such a pricing model would convince consumers to do it.
Our rates are $.13/KW in the tier we're currently in. The other part of this dream is to have a PV modules on the roof and a grid-tied system, making a plug-in's cost more tied to our electricity use than the grid's rates. PVs are not currently cheaper than buying from our company, but they're getting closer, and producing our own electricity is something that DH and I would love to do, so fits well with our overall individual energy-independence plan.
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Old 09-29-2008, 07:07 PM   #58
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Buy a "toy" for your people transportation and keep the old clunker as a safety-new vehicle. Since we bought our 3-years old BMW Z4 convertible we've put very little mileage on the 2002 Toyota Camry. And the Beemer gets 30 MPH highway.

I'm quite conservative and think that it's the pioneers who get filled full of arrows. I'll wait several years for other people to get some extended term real-world experience with hybrids. I well remember the gas crunch in the mid 1980's. Several of my co-workers and neighbors bought diesel cars because diesel was much cheaper than gasoline. You can tell how successful that was by counting the number of diesel cars that you see on the road today.

I'm really wondering what will happen to electric rates when 10% of Californians are plugging in their car every night. And what they are gonna do when they get hit by rolling black-outs.
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Old 09-29-2008, 07:32 PM   #59
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I'm really wondering what will happen to electric rates when 10% of Californians are plugging in their car every night. And what they are gonna do when they get hit by rolling black-outs.
Well, if more cities in CA required PV modules on the roof of government buildings, tied to the grid (and more people did the same as well), electric production would go up, so cost might actually come down or stay level, even with increased usage.

As far as the "rolling blackout" thing goes -- usually they give us a heads-up. So people could plan. OR,

They could fill the car up with gas, since it's a plug-in hybrid we're talking about. It's an electric engine, but can be fueled with straight juice from the grid OR with dino-juice from the pump, which then powers a generator that produces electricity.
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Old 09-29-2008, 10:39 PM   #60
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I was in a very similar situation 2 years ago, car was getting old, tax credits were still pretty high on the Prius for CA. I went ahead and got the new Prius (and a carpool sticker, that they ran out of soon after I got mine). But I did sell my old car to someone who works in my building, and I'm still seeing it being driven on a regular basis 2 years later.

One thing I found is that as soon as the tax rebates started to disappear, the sticker prices went down. Can't guarantee that, but it's possible. Also, demand for Priuses is pretty high again, so it might be hard to get one.

If I had to make the decision today though, the biggest factor for me would be that the plug-in's are supposed to be coming out in late 2009 or 2010. I do want a plug-in, so I would probably be seeing what I could do to stretch the extra time. If you don't want a plug-in, that would probably push me to getting a new car sooner.

You can't see the future and know how long your current car will last. Any decision is somewhat of a gamble. Are you more concerned with getting every penny worth out of your old car, or will you enjoy the new car and feel safe enough that the small amount of money won't bother you?
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