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  1. #1
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    When will buying a true HEV be "worth it"? Well, watch you city taxi fleets, when they convert to hybrids, then you will know your time to buy is getting close.

    City taxis have the perfect drive cycle to get the biggest advantage from electrically assisted IC engine technologies. They drive 80% of their miles in city stop/go traffic and they drive a lot of miles every year. When the cost of fuel rises and the cost of HEV technology drops to the point that Taxi fleets start going to Hybrids, pay attention.

    Some independent Taxi operators have already adopted Prius vehicles in Canada and New York. The big fleet operators are still buying Crown Vics, mini-vans, and Impalas, but they are extremely interested in HEV technology so watch as more and more HEVs come into the market and purchase price premiums begin to drop.

    A CNG or propane fueled IC engine hooked to a HEV drive system in a mid-to-full sized sedan would be a taxi fleet operators dream car. Any OEMs listening?

    Walt

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  3. #2
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    i think hybrids are worth buying now, the savings are imediate. it's strange that taxis, delivery couriours, busses & even some police cars are not switching faster to hybrids (most cop cars don't get into chases, and if they do they can radio for others or flight vehicles). maybe as their current inventory wears out they'll switch. it would be silly to dump a newer car just for the technology. wait a few miles & it'll make more sense.

    we'll likely see honda & toyota get into those markets 1st. it's already fact with any new product that the 1st to market gets some 80% of the market share. we're talking LOTS of cash so you can bet at least toyota & honda are actively working to secure their share of the cash available!

    and it's a world market anymore - not just USA.

    see ya

    steve


  4. #3
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    I don't think patrol vehicles should get into the hybrid market just yet. There isn't enough power in a good, fuel efficient hybrid, and although most patrol cars spend most of their time travelling at low speeds, one has to remember that its not necessarily about what they do most of the time. Its about what they might need to do in the future in a pinch. If someone just stole my car, and the nearest patrol car was a hybrid, it would be very discomforting to hear them tell me "Well, I can't really chase him down, but I've called for someone who can!" Thats a bit like being put on hold when calling 911.

    Personally, I say let emergency crews drive gas-guzzlers, cause they go real fast!!

    As for everyone else, save a dime. Get a hybrid.

  5. #4
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    I, like Steve, already think that hybrids are worth it. Toyota has proved that if you start with a clean slate and make a new design for new technology, then there is no such thing as a "hybrid premium." I don't understand why Honda and others still look like they are trying to take existing cars and "fit" them with hybrid technology. I think Honda will come around, I hope the others do to.

    I also think cab companies would be perfect choices for hybrids. I just don't have confidence in the vision of most cab companies. I know companies like UPS and FedEx are looking into hybrids, especially diesel-electric ones, and currently have a few pre-production test vehicles in their fleets.

    There's also the problem of supply. Detroit has told us for years that customers only want more hp, when what they really meant was torque. I believe Toyota, Honda and to some extent Ford, are finding out that there are a lot more of us that would rather save money directly to ourselves through lower operating costs, and to our country through lower health care costs and associated costs of relying on oil.

    The benefits of electric technology, with much higher torque possible (i.e., acceleration) and all wheel drive with one motor for each wheel, will eventually work well for emergency vehicles. I think they should be able to burn gas (or diesel) as needed for now, but as the technology gets more well developed, their time will come.

  6. #5
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    as far as toyota verses honda goes, we're really talking about the merits for example of sailboats verses powerboats. now within "sailboats" we have "toyotas" or we have "hondas". both have their merit. and both beat "powerboats" for economy & pleasure.

    as far as releasing a new car designed bottom up the business gets into the picture & i bet honda has a better cash profit position by using their civic as an initial platform then toyota with their new bottom up platform.

    i think the idea of using a common car helps rather then release a new styling like toyota which may or may not get accepted as a proper "style" for a car much less hybrid. but in time they should have many to pick from so it isn't important after a while. (only for the copycat Chevy's to decide what to do in a few years).

    i don't know where the car people get their idea of what *we* want. i suspect it's via the car show population or readers of Car & Driver ~ point is these are very small percent samplings of the population. i've always wanted some level of economy. but also something big enough for home project trips to the hardware stores. ~ and to tow stuff. and to FIT people...

    speed limts are pretty well set, and 65 MPG isn't bad. it beat the old stupid 55... and most any car now a days can hit these speeds easy. recall the old VW's or civics or Datsuns? they couldn't get out of their own way! not anymore with a hybrid assist!

    i can't wait to see what's available in 3 years. unlike solar power hybrids are here now & economic now.

    see ya




  7. #6
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    Generally, starting from the ground up for a new design will be more costly in the beginning, but save you a lot down the road. Unfortunately, car manufacturers guard their profit-per-car numbers very carefully. Detroit says Toyota is losing money on each Prius, Toyota says they make a profit on every car. Honda may be in the same boat. They may have a "hybrid premium" because they need it. I don't know who's right, but I do know that Toyota is increasing their market share every year. Honda may be also. I don't think Detroit is.

    Styling does sell cars, at least with most people. I, personally, don't really care what a car looks like. I want it to be reliable and cheap to operate. And to have whatever features I want. I don't think I'd buy an ugly car, but that still leaves 90% of them available in my mind. Toyota probably did take a chance with the '04 Prius styling, but it looks like its paying off.

    With my driving, I think I'll save $75/month when I finally get my Prius. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I think the economic benefits are already here--not even counting the benefits to the country as a whole through less pollution and less dependency on oil.

    I think the one thing that customers need to realize is this: it is always cheaper to buy efficiency, rather than to buy energy. And saving energy is always an immediate benefit to your bottom line.

    (By the way, I've read that solar power is already comparable in price to nuclear power--and getting cheaper.)

  8. #7
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    I agree that Hybrids are "worth it" for some buyers today, but for hybrids to get to significant market share, both the benefits and the costs need to improve.

    For over 80% of new car buyers, fuel econony is not in the top 5 of their top 10 decision factors. However, once they buy a vehicle, fuel economy is nearly always in their top 5 complaints or areas that they wish were better with their vehicle.

    Most people decide what type of vehicle they want, a pickup or a mini-van or a SUV, and then select based on features and price and personal experiences with major brands. Between brands of a given model, the differences in Fuel Economy are not significant enough to change a buyers selection. For example, Ford/GM/Dodge full sized pickups all get about the same mileage with their gas V8s.

    Hybrids will always cost "more" since they have two powertrains; a gas engine and one or more electric motors. There is no "removed" driveline parts to offset the extra costs being added for the motors, inverters (motor drive electrics), the high voltage storage battery, and the extra electronic controls and development costs.

    So, the only way Hybrids are going to grow to a large percentage of total sales is if the vehicle performs equally and the extra costs can be recovered in 2-3 years of operation. Rise the cost of fuel or lower the cost of the HEV parts.

    Today, true costs, all the extra parts, is well over $5,000, and the fuel savings is mainly in city driving, and performance and towing are compromised. The Honda Accord HEV and the Lexus 400h and Highlander HEV will all address the performance shortfall by keeping the V6 engine. Honda and GM/DCX are planning to improve Highway FE by adding viable displacement engine technology to HEV technology.

    However, the net result will be a smaller FE benefit in the city and added costs of nearly another $1000. But, owners will get improved highway FE and equal or better performance in all drivng modes, and retain towing capacity.

    Will more buys elect to purchase HEVs? Yes!

    Will the OEs all start offering HEVs? Yes, to "Keep up" with competition and avoid lost sales.

    Will the OEs make a profit on HEVs? No. The real costs are too great to be offset by the fuel savings. Sales volumes by most OEs will be limitied to the level required to be competitive and meet regulatory requirments. By limiting the volumes, they limit their losses.

    Toyota and Honda can afford to give away HEVs. They are growing in total sales volumes and are highly profitable OEs. Ford/GM/DCX will limit volumes. Look for Hyundai to get into HEVs and make them a "bargin" as Hyundai has the most to gain for incremental sales and technology image.

    For us buyers, we will win everytime a new HEV hits the market as Toyota and Honda continue to set the standard for HEVs and everyone else plays catch-up in a very expensive sales poker game.

    Thanks to California, and 8 or 9 other states now, it looks like all OEs gotta "play" to get to 4% sales for 2007MY. As the OEs get in the HEV game, HEV buyers should be the big winners!

    So I agree. Buy them HEVs! It is the right thing to do for yourself and for our air quality and for global warming.

    And maybe, just maybe, competition will lead to technology breakthroughs that both lower the costs and improve the fuel savings to the point that the value of a HEV will clear to every new vehicle buyer.

    We are not there yet, but keep an eye on them taxi fleets!




  9. #8
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    FYI Toyota claims to have been making a profit on each Prius sold since 2002.

    Priced automatic transmissions lately? They are not cheap. To buy a remanufactured transmission for the Volvo I just traded in on the Escape costs about $3k...very similar in price to the battery pack in my Prius.

    I think the economics on hybrids are close to turning the corner. Otherwise manufacturers wouldn't be rolling new product out.

  10. #9
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    don't forget that product pricing is under the control of the manufacturer ~ nice control for high demand products. our retail price is a very limited indication of the manufacturing cost. something may be manufacterd at a cost of $0.20 and retail-sold at $8 - like energy saver light bulbs...

    see ya

    steve

  11. #10
    Guest

    When Hybrids will be worth it.

    I think a hybrid car is worth it.
    3 Reasons:
    1.It can teach you how to drive more efficiently.
    2. One can make a game out of seeing how far a gallon can really go
    3. My savings over the last 10 months have paid for my Christmas expenses, which is around $500, the difference between a similarly equipped Civic EX.

    Civic EX EPA is 38MPG.
    I've averaged 58MPG in my HCH.
    I've driven 30K miles.
    Fuel saved is about 260 gallons.
    Fuel is around $1.80/Gallon Nat'l price.
    I've saved around $475 in less than a year's time.

    Or look at it this way:
    Similarly equipped EX costs about $17K.
    My HCH cost about $18.5K.
    That's about $1.5K premium paid for my HCH.
    Tax incentive should return about $400 of that premium.
    My battery warranty extends to 10 years or 150K Miles.
    In 5 years I'll reach 150K miles.
    If I've saved ~ $500 each year in fuel over a similarly equipped Civic EX I'll have saved about $2,500.

    I keep my vehicles for 10 years, so I'll end up with about 300K miles on it.
    I expect the battery pack life to end before the 10 years/300K Miles. What will I do then?

    Perhaps I'll be able to find a used replacement but in worse case I'll just drive it with reduced MPG.

    I think we can expect gas prices to rise over $2 / gallon in the future. How high will it go? $2.50?
    Will there be more political trouble in the middle east?
    ...$3.00 or more?
    I'll be in a better transportation position than most.

    I'd never claim that hybrids are the best MPG -to-dollar car you can buy.
    Better to get an Echo or similar bare bones econo car in that situation.

    However if you want the most technological advanced auto to date, potentially fantastic MPG not obtainable with conventional methods, or want to make each and every commute a fun & exciting experience then a hybrid might be for you.

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