Dueling Views on Hybrids in Today's Detroit News

Hybrid cars are either a complete waste of money. Or the best example of how Detroit is finally producing the fuel-efficient cars that consumers want. These dueling views on hybrid cars played out in today’s Detroit News.

Detroit News columnist Manny Lopez cited disappointing hybrid sales numbers—down about 13 percent for the year—as final proof that hybrid cars are destined to remain a tiny niche in the car world. Taking his stand in the culture wars, Lopez accused “select members of Congress as well as Hollywood hypocrites” as being all wrong on hybrids. He wrote, “Gone, hopefully, are the days when the hybrid hype machine said the dual-powertrain vehicles would dominate the market and be standard offerings for most vehicles in every fleet.”

Lopez gives point-blank advice to automakers: “It makes no financial sense to put two drivetrains in one vehicle—one for the hybrid system and one for the gas engine. Automakers can’t afford to do that anymore.” And finally, he accuses legislator and activists of “grandstanding” to get carmakers to build hybrids, which people don’t want to buy.

One of those legislators, apparently, is US Rep. John Dingell, who in the same pages of the Detroit News points to the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, a mid-size hybrid that gets 41 mpg in the city, as evidence that Detroit is proactively responding to the needs of consumers clamoring for a new more fuel-efficient path. Dingell also calls out the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, the high-mpg Chevrolet Cruze, and Chrysler’s upcoming electric vehicles as “examples that Detroit’s automakers can compete with products made anywhere in the world.”

In November, Dingell was forced out of his position as chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee—a role, held since 1981, in which he fought against virtually any regulation that might impact the domestic auto industry. He was replaced by California Representative Henry Waxman, who’s been on the front end of environmental legislation.

Dingell’s opinion piece is a mea culpa for not putting more pressure on domestic automakers to be accountable for their inaction on energy efficiency—while he makes no apologies for fighting on behalf of Detroit autoworkers. Dingell envisions “a new outlook on energy” that goes beyond individual hybrid models to the creation of a homegrown hybrid-oriented auto industry. He laments the fact that the Fusion Hybrid runs on nickel-metal hydride batteries made in Japan, and calls for US government support to build hybrid batteries in Michigan and to stimulate development of advanced car technologies on US shores. “Only if we can produce alternatives to petroleum ourselves can we truly claim to be energy independent.”

So, while Manny Lopez accuses hybrid supporters of being out of touch with the interests of American consumers and car companies, John Dingell sees energy-efficient technologies as the savior for what ails the American economy and American workers. Lopez is reading short-term sales numbers to pronounce the death of hybrids, while Dingell is looking at the writing on the wall for American job and energy security, and champions the birth of an American green car industry.


  • sean t

    Who is Manny Lopez? He just repeats what Ford and GM’s policy makers said some years ago. Even Bob Lutz has changed his mind.

  • Bryce

    hybrids….though novel….don’t really make their makers much money. It is largely held by the automotive press that their is little….of any profit made on each Prius, and that they largely generate dealer floor room trafic pushing sales to things like the Yaris and Corolla. Dealers love em too because they can put big markups on them to gain dealer profit. Finally….it is a little silly to have to put two engines in one vehicle, however, being a fan of electric range extended cars and hybrids, I see it as an intermediary step until that day when cars can be charged rapidly. Until the days comes that a “charge-up” takes as long as a fill-up, I don’t see hybrids and electric cars being cost competitive with a car with a normal combustion engine….or even in some cases, strictly electric cars. I welcome government subsidies however so that we can spur this technology growth…..and maybe….just mabe…..EEStor works and we can all be driving cars with ultra capacitors in them. : )

  • my man fred

    Hybrids were down 13% for the year. What were the results for non-hybrids???

  • HVA

    Does Manny Lopez realize that fuel efficient hybrids brought up the fuel mileage of non-hybrids? Think, if auto companies did not want to install 2 powertrains, then they need to achieve better mileage with one!

  • Skeptic

    “Until the days comes that a “charge-up” takes as long as a fill-up,”

    A HAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HA HAHA.

    Man, have *you* got a long wait!

  • Samie

    Mr. Lopez reminds me of those folks who love to point out that there is no global warming when it is unseasonable cold. True hybrid sales should be weak for this year but does that make hybrids not important in say 5 years? The Big Three no longer controls what consumers choose and global competition will continue to grow. How efficient and cost effective will hybrids get? If hybrids continue to advance how can a car company ignore this despite the 2% market share of hybrids?

    As for GM they need to get the Cruze going soon if say Toyota responds to new pressures from Ford and Honda in the hybrid market GM will need a hybrid like sedan to compete due to the mixed results from their two-mode system. While I love the Malibu the Malibu Hybrid with the two-mode system may become outdated as other car companies continue to advance on technology and efficiency. Also I’m worried that the Volt will take say 5-9 yrs to develop on the market, leaving GM weak on the hybrid sector in the sedan and compact areas.

  • Samie

    Bryce wrote “I don’t see hybrids and electric cars being cost competitive with a car with a normal combustion engine….or even in some cases, strictly electric cars”

    Sorry I’m not sure I agree with you, that is if you won’t add consumer behaviors into your discussion of standard ICE vs Hybrids. Advancement is the key in standard hybrids as well as electric-long range hybrids and EV’s. If someday consumers see significant gains in regular hybrids, excluding plug-ins say 20 mpgs over the non hybrid model with a markup of 1-3K this may give consumers an incentive to pay extra for a hybrid. Part of the cost of hybrids should always be the discussion of convince to consumers and this could change future patterns in how consumers value or rate vehicles.

  • deek

    uh….think about a 4 min battery swap instead…about the same as a fillup…

  • autobob

    The success of the hybrid market is tied to the price of gasoline. When it was a $4 a gallon hybrids were selling like gangbusters. Toyota was going to produce the Prius in Mississippi. Then the economy when South Toyota is delaying production of the Prius in Mississippi. All segments of the auto industries and all Car companies are having a rough time. Gas will be back to $4 a gallon or more. The demand for hybrids will take off. That why the big three need to get their act together. The new 2010 Ford Fusion is a game changer. Hats off to Ford. Gm and Chrysler need a mid size hybrid. The Malibu Hybrid is not going to cut it. Gm needs a full hybrid. Chrysler cannot find its way past the Hemi.

  • woo

    Hybrids save time. With a hybrid I can drive in the carpool lane and save 15 minutes each direction in my commute. Plus I fill-up half as often, saving another 30 minutes. With what other investment can I pay a few thousand dollars (even with low gas prices) and recoup that much time!

  • Halo9x

    I have been driving my ’07 Prius for over a year now and been averaging 42-48mpg. When gas prices went to over $4.00 a gallon, the Prius did what it was designed to do. It saved gas and in turn saved us from spending a small fortune on gasoline. Now that prices have dropped to under $2.00 a gallon we save even more. Between my Prius and my wife’s ’07 Yaris Liftback our gasoline expenditures have have been very low which is great. Hybrid technology is here to stay and is a good way to cut our dependence on foreign oil. The only real problem is that there still aren’t enough Hybrid drivers to make the savings significant. We need more Hybrids on the road, not less.

  • Bryce

    Of course Samie….a vast majority of consumers would love get hybrids delivering those kind of numbers for only 1-3k…..but those kind of numbers usually require a markup of 8k……taking it a little bit beyond consumers comfort range. So now, they may not be for everyone and some people will find a Yaris or a Cruze a better buy. In the future though it may indeed become more economical. Looking at the hybrid Fusion and Insight, I see this move of cost efficiencies with the Fusions amazing 40+ mpg and the Insight’s below 20k pricetag. With time, hopefully the same cost efficiencies will be worked out of electric cars as well.

  • Boom Boom

    Manny and Bryce need a reality check.
    Manny is just repeating what the big three wish were true, and if it were true, they wouldn’t be driving to DC in hybrids to beg for money.
    Bryce needs a math lesson.
    Consumers Reports did the math and showed that most hybrids (even the US built ones…) pay off in 5 years or less once the tax credit is included. Some pay off in less than 5 years even without tax breaks. These calculations have been repeated elsewhere as well. Granted all this is at gas prices of $3 or more, but even at $2 some hybrids still payoff by the end of the 80/100,000 mile warranty on the batteries.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2008/10/affordable-hybrids/overview/affordable-hybrids-ov.htm

    As technology improves, prices will come down and the math will make more sense. But the bottom line is that there are already hybrid cars out there that pay back the initial premium in gas savings in less that 5 years. We don’t need to wait for any vaporware vehicles in the development pipeline.

  • Dan L

    Detroit has been telling me what kind of car I want for decades. And they have never been right yet.

    I want a car that burns less fuel. Partly this is to save money. But also, I don’t want to depend on foreign oil. Also, I want to reduce my carbon footprint.

    I also want a car that I can plug in at home and completely avoid the gas pump. This has nothing to do with money or even the environment and everything to do with convenience.

    So, maybe I am a niche consumer. Maybe it is not profitable to cater to my needs. Maybe they don’t want my business. Fortunately, they have competitors who do.

  • AP

    Contrary to what some think, the Detroit News is no lap dog of the Big 3. They agree with them when they’re right, and rip them when they’re wrong.

    The Consumer Report comparisons Boom Boom quotes are based on consumer price (which they should be), not on what the car costs to build. Even without tax incentives, the comparison does not take into account the real costs of the hybrid system. Manufacturers have been heavily subsidizing the cost of them, using profits from their gas-guzzlers (like Tundras and Sequoias) to make them seem favorable (I’ve even seen people say that hybrids are cheap to make!). Toyota has looked on it as good PR and punching their green card. Based on the blind eye given their non-green pickups (worst in class for fuel economy), it has been worth the money to keep people off their back, although I doubt the domestics could receive such favorable treatment by doing the same.

    If Toyota sold more hybrids, it would be less profitable – they would sell fewer profitable vehicles and more unprofitable ones. If the American automakers had dove into hybrids, they would probably already be bankrupt, because they couldn’t have subsidized them with other profits like Toyota did. Now, Toyota’s lowered profits (no subsidizing money), coupled with the lack of demand when gas is $2/gallon, made them shutter the US Prius plant (so they’re still 0% American content!).

    Many in the auto industry think that the Prius is meant to do to the domestics what the US did to the Soviet Union with the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). The technology may not have been worth the money on its own, but it made the USSR spend more money than it had, until it collapsed. Toyota probably knew that the hybrid made no business sense, but that enough Americans would come to think that it was “the only way” to do things, so the domestics would be forced to follow. Since they didn’t have money to burn Toyota did, it would kill them. That’s pretty much how things have gone.

    Chasing technology is stupid. We should be shifting taxes from income to gasoline to make the consumer demand fuel-efficient cars, and then then MPG results and consumer demand decide what’s best.

  • Boom Boom

    AP,
    I agree with only your last point. Raise gas taxes and let the market decide what people drive. Absolutely. However, the fact is that once gas is back at $3-$4 a gallon, people are going to want more fuel efficient cars and hybrids will lead the charge in that market. If, when that happened, the big 3 didn’t have viable hybrids, as AP recommends, that would just put one more nail in their coffin. R&D always costs money and new technology is always going to take some time to be profitable. Toyota got hurt by the market downturn, but not nearly as much as the Big 3. Why? Because they had hybrids and small, efficient, fun to drive non-hybrid cars that people shifted to. (Same goes for many other foreign makes.)

  • Fibb222

    Despite the lies told to the contrary, the Prius is not a loss leader for Toyota. They’ve made a good profit on every one. Give your head a shake, if you think Toyota isn’t committed to making more hybrids. They clearly stated, repeatedly, that they want every model to have a hybrid option in the future. They are not a charitable organization. Manufacturing their Hybrid Senergy Drive is dead easy as it is far less complicated than a regular transmission.

  • AP

    Boom Boom, my point is that we shouldn’t care what technology is best; although I seriously doubt it’s a hybrid. Much of what makes the Prius has nothing to do with its powertrain (it’s narrow, light, aerodynamic, low rolling resistance), but I bet no one would buy it if it was not a hybrid (although it would still get very good mileage, just not quite as good). The hybrid technology adds to the MPG, but that addition is certainly not worth the real cost (something like $5000).

    Fibb 222, dream on if you think that something being “easy” to make means it will be cheap to make. Between the neodymium magnet material, the needed Li-Ion batteries, the extra cooling system, the extra copper, and the expensive electronics required to handle large currents, there is still a steep price to be paid to make something a hybrid. The parts that Toyota eliminates with their transmission are dirt cheap – no savings there.

    As far as lies are concerned, Jim Press (when heading Toyota US) denied that the Japanese government had helped fund the Prius research, but after he left Toyota he admitted that the government had. This is common with Japanese companies. For example, they’ve regularly exaggerated horsepower ratings, making competitors choose whether to also lie (not good), or to be truthful and look inferior (also not good). It works great for them, since no one seems to care or question (too few good journalists?).

  • usbseawolf2000

    “It makes no financial sense to put two drivetrains in one vehicle—one for the hybrid system and one for the gas engine.”

    Why shift gears when you can shift between the two drivetrains?

    Mr.Lopez (three alphabets different with Lutz) does not understand the underlying concept of a FULL hybrid.

    A full hybrid utilizes electric drivetrain as “low gear” with plenty of torque and the gasoline drivetrain as “high gear” where it is the most efficient. This concept creates synergy between the two drivetrains.

  • Boom Boom

    Ap, I agree. If hybrids aren’t truly cost effective and full electrics or hydrogen or squirrel power is better, than use that. Based on the numbers in the consumer’s reports investigation, even at $5000 for a hybrid powertrain, $4 gas will make a hybrid pay for itself in around five years (depending on the car). I’m not sure that any of the other current alternatives can do that.

  • kdhspyder

    hybrids….though novel….don’t really make their makers much money. It is largely held by the automotive press that their is little….of any profit made on each Prius, and that they largely generate dealer floor room trafic pushing sales to things like the Yaris and Corolla.

    The automotive press has never been much more than cheerleaders for one brand or another. Would YOU make decisions based on the recommendations of a cheerleader????

    In addition this statement simply is just not accurate. How much each vehicle makes is a broad unanswerable question unless one is an insider at one of the vehicle makers in question. However some common sense mixed with a knowledge of accounting leads to a entirely different conclusion….they’ve been ‘profitable’ since the very beginning. Again it takes sometime to gather the relevant data and then to apply accounting principles to it. Would you entrust this type of analysis to a cheerleader??

  • Bryce

    hybrids…….are…..not….profitable….

    Not yet anyways. A appreciate your view Boom Boom that they will grow to be better for the companies making them and the consumers buying them….but for now…..that just isn’t so. Yes the payoff time is often 5 years or less…..but for the consumer….wouldn’t it be a better buy if there was no price difference and instead of payinig off a premium, it could actually save you money from day one. That day is not here, but it can’t come soon enough for us.

    Finally, Toyota’s profitability does not lie in its hybrids or small cars, both of which have smaller profit margins generally than larger vehicles. It’s profits derive from lower worker costs from workers relative to their American counterparts and a favorable currency exchange between American dollars and Japanese Yen. With this currency difference largely gone though, their profits are being eaten into and the days of extreme Toyota profitability are likely gone until the dollar regains its strength….otherwise their venture in the United States is in dire straits. With the renegotiation of labor contracts for the domestics, though, this labor difference is largely gone. This will lead to more profitable domestics willing to put more resources into small cars that were previously unforitable due to labor costs.

  • kdhspyder

    Manny doesn’t do a very good job of analyzing this situation. He notes that hybrid sales are down by 13% for 2008. As noted above this is far less than the rest of the market. But….WHAT IF….this reduction was INTENTIONAL????

    What’s that you say? The largest volume seller is the Prius. At present how goes the Prius then goes the market. Why would the Prius be down in volume. Was there no demand for the Prius in 2008???

    Hardly. For 6 months there was a huge over-demand for it. For the better part of the Summer there were none to be had anywhere in the US. So how could sales be DOWN???

    Toyota decided NOT to ship enough vehicles here to supply the demand. Toyota actively decided NOT to ship as many Prius’ to the US this year as they did last year. Now why would they do that and short this specific market??

    Because batteries and components were limited to a finite number they could produce only so many hybrids. Ford and Honda were in the same predicament. So why wouldn’t Toyota ship as many to the US as they did last year? Did they make less? NO, they made the same number essentially maxing out production.

    So what’s up? Why are we in the US missing units of sales?? Currency!!!!

    This is where Manny has an epic fail. He didn’t even think about the international trade influences. He’s focused on NA only and missed the forest for the trees. ‘Our’ missing Prius’ that should have come here ended up in Singapore and the UK and Kyoto and other markets where the local currency was not so weak as the US$.

    Earf to Manny….the world is larger than Detroit.

  • kehspyder

    I have one and it’s ‘paid itself off in 3 yrs’. But that’s not the issue about profitability.

    Accounting the issue. You MUST understand accounting first before making any statement about the profitability of a vehicle. Nothing you or the OPs stated show any understanding of how costs are allocated and how the selling prices compare to the costs.

    The data is available and the analysis is available. The hybrids are all profitable from the very first one built.

    Yes the small cars like the Prius have much smaller profit margins than the trucks and SUVs. There is no question about this. But Toyota and Honda have always focused on the high volume low margin products. This is their bread and butter vehicles.

    Now as to the currency issue you do make a good point that until a new agreement with Washington is reached the imports from Japan will suffer in profitability. They may suffer so much that for a while until this new agreement is reached there few if any imports to the US. However….domestically-made vehicles will not be affected in anyway. As a matter of fact to make up for the shortfall in imports we might see Toyota and Honda INCREASE their respective NA operations as much as the market will bear. Fewer Prius and Yaris’ but more Camry’s, Corolla’s and Tacoma’s.

  • ACAgal

    I could buy a new car, but I won’t until I find a car that is clean, not gas or diesel dependent, safe and suitable to my needs.

  • Bryce

    well, it doesn’t matter where the vehicles are made for Toyota and other Japanese automakers becuase all revenues come back to Japan exchanged for Yen and given the curency excange…..that leaves them with a lot less money coming over.

    kehspyder, I was wondering what “agreement” you were referring to regarding Toyota…….currency exchanges are regulated by the market and not managed by any entity other than buyers and sellers of currency.

  • Samie

    Hybrids will always have a markup but the question is how much. We must look at this market so far, this market only accounts for 2-3% of all vehicle sales. So yes at low production levels, costs are naturally higher and I’m not sure about a statement above that claims higher production and assuming sales would lead to greater losses from Toyota when ramping up production conventional thinking would assume greater efficiencies or greater purchasing power for parts. I’m very curious with the quality of car that the Honda Insight will be if it is true that Honda has come up their hybrid system for about 2-3k why can’t other automakers do the same? This market as I said above is small which is foretasted to grow and is changing fast. Government regulations can play a large factor in this which may regulate forms of hybrid technologies like regulation of seat belts, or catalytic converters, that is policy maybe directed at some of the least fuel efficient vehicles. This could be true in some of the luxury sector where say hybrid tech for 2-3K more then likely won’t reduce profits too much on a vehicle priced at 60K.

  • AP

    ‘The data is available and the analysis is available. The hybrids are all profitable from the very first one built.’

    kehspyder, That’s quite a blanket statement. I wish you’d share this data source with us, so we could understand.

  • ItMakesSense

    The new Honda Insight hybrid goes on sale in April 2009 for $19,000. The third generation Prius (160hp vs 110 in 2nd gen and still gets 50mpg plus) is unveiled in January 2009. The Ford Fusion hybrid and Mercury Milan hybrid are rated to average 39 mpg and come out in 2009. Why would someone who cares about fuel-efficiency buy a hybrid in Dec 2008, when there is going to be leaps forward in Honda and Toyota performance just a few months later? Why would someone who cares about price buy a hybrid in Dec 2008 when there is going to be all this competition for their hybrid purchase just a few months later?

    Think people!

    First of all, I make my car payments over time – just like I pay my gas fillups over time. So aside from figuring in the finance charges, how is the purchase price an “upfront cost” any more than my gas?

    I bought a Camry hybrid in July 2007 and based on Edmunds Total Cost of Ownership, realized that taking into consideration all car payments, gas, insurance, etc. combined, even at $2.85 gas this Camry hybrid would cost me the same or less than ANY “LX” trim V6 sedan over the next five years. Currently gas prices are projected to reach level of $3.00 or $3.50 again later in 2009 once demand and supply re-adjust. Since I pay same or less, purely as a bonus I get fully-loaded Camry XLE features such as awesome 10-speaker JBL stereo with 6-CD changer and 2 “cig lighter” outlets for iPod etc, separate passenger and driver climate controls, heated side mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view, and smart key so I just put my hand on door handle and don’t have to fish for my keys in my pockets with bare hands in cold months. Automatic braking system and traction control are standard. Almost everyone who rides with me is amazed how quiet the ride is (Camry sound-insulation quiet plus hybrid equals REALLY quiet) so I can fully enjoy either the stereo or the conversation. During warm months May-Sept I average 36-39mpg in mostly city driving. Camry hybrid is rated above average reliability by Consumer Reports. Many U.S. Camry hybrids are assembled in the States (Georgetown Kentucky and Lafayette Indiana). Battery and all hybrid powertrain components under warranty for 10 yrs/100,000 miles and I’ve never put that many miles on a car before I sold it (I kept my last car from 1999-2007, longer than most people). All this for the same or lower TOTAL monthly cost over five years as the more basic “LX” trim level V6 sedans sold by Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc. The only downside I can see is a trunk with the same capacity as a Honda civic (10.5 cu ft vs. 14 or 15), because this car wasn’t designed from the ground up as a hybrid so the battery takes up some trunk space. If that’s your issue, the Prius (with battery under rear seat) or new Honda insight offer more cu ft of storage than most V6 sedans.

    A few hybrids like Saturn Aura hybrid doesn’t pay for the hybrid premium – ever. (My previous car was a 89 Saturn, but beginning with Ion both Saturn’s gas mileage AND their acceleration have suffered).

    However the best hybrid designs out there are a great value. My car reduces greenhouse gas emissions and gas usage by 30-40% over any V6, tailpipe emissions are just 20% those of the average new sedan, I get nearly equal acceleration to many V6 models (8seconds 0-60mph), and an XLE trim level – ALL for the same or lower total cost than ANY LX trim level V6 sedan.

    Explain to me again how is it that two engines don’t make sense? Next I suppose someone will tell me two-stage snowblowers “just don’t make sense.”

  • Highway Capable Registered Electric Vehicle Owner

    If Bryce is correct, all the more reason for all of us to rush out and buy three hybrids each. Who wouldn’t want a car at a lower price than it costs to make? However, I suspect that Bryce doesn’t understand the differences between fixed, variable and marginal production costs, the concept of economic profits, and strategies of halo products, loss leaders or special sauce that result in net overall profits. It’s simply not possible to make 1,000,000 vehicles, among the top 10 best selling cars in the US, at a loss for a whole decade and make an overall profit every single year without a successful, working business plan that includes that vehicle.

    Sure, hybrid sales are down now, but less than vehicle sales in general are down now. The real problems for the entire auto industry – market saturation for all vehicles, a long recession, lost housing equity and wealth for consumers to borrow on and a credit crunch in which lenders are not lending and/or charging very high rates. Gasoline prices – not so much. They’re volatile and will go back up again some time, just as they repeatedly have, with several major upward spikes over the last 35 years.

    The solutions to the problems listed above are 1) time and 2) the auto industry coming up with genuinely NEW product (end game = electric drive w/ power pack of any type, w/ or w/o range extender using any type fuel) and marketing properly for the first time ever so that there is no longer an 80% mismatch between supply and demand.

    I suspect that I’m preaching to the choir here.

  • Bryce

    I actually have a pretty fine understanding of economics and economic profits and the like. My econ professor at Berkeley last semester was Professer Romer…….the one that is now advising the president elect on how to get us out of our current economic conundrum. She is the older stout lady with red hair…..has a funny voice…..and a solid understanding of economics. Nice lady.

    I am not argueing hybrids are bad and we should just stop development, I just want people to remember that the hybrid option may not be right for everyone and that initially in this little fuel efficiency revolution, some may simply opt for smaller displacement engines in favor of that higher price tag, which is spread out over time, true, but the size of the number sometimes simply scares consumers……its called sticker shock…..and it will turn away buyers.

  • RKRB

    -I wonder what kind of car Rep. John Dingell drives. Does anyone know? It’s sometimes interesting to hear someone telling people what THEY should do while doing something entirely different for themselves. Sort of like a liberal on steroids.

    -I just drove a rented Prius for 3 days and was impressed with the experience. It was a nice car, I became used to the poor visibility and the cheap interior, and it was just nice to be saving gas. We have a 3 year-old Escape hybrid and are very impressed with the hybrid’s practicality. Still, if the Toyota dealer price-gouging markups continue, I would not buy a Prius.

    -I agree that people who want a hybrid may want to wait for the new models to be introduced.

  • Bryce

    price gouging and crappy interiors…..I have been saying it for years…..

    Anyways, there is a website I think where you can check what politicians drive….

    This site has the cars that the presidential contenders own and drive.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Cars-of-National-Politicians&id=1058250

    heres a video from rhode island

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDt1QtkOWiQ

    if u use google for a little research, I am sure you could find what you are looking for.

  • Byron

    You remeber that you said that. There’s some very interesting work being done with ultracapacitors that could make that a reality very soon. EEStore of Cedar Park, TX was recently awarded a US Patent for a device that would do exactly that. Wikipedia it.

  • PattyA

    Short-term thinking is so self-defeating for the auto industry.

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