// Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency
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  1. #1

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Well, some people think hybrids are the greatest thing since sliced bread. And maybe they have a point . But let's get something straight. When you are driving a hybrid, you are not "saving the planet".

    In Europe they have much higher fuel economy than the US on average. The average German car gets 40 miles per gallon. Yet they don't have many hybrids over there . The Prius has sold very poorly in Europe. So how do they get the good economy, then?

    1) Smaller cars appropriate to their needs. Europeans don't buy a pickup just to drive to work. I lived in the UK in the late 80's and the only people with pickups lived in rural areas, and they never drove them for commuting. SUV's were nonexistant, except for some Land Rovers that a few people in rural areas or workers used (to actually haul things). Now days its pretty much the same.

    A car about the same size as a Honda Civic is considered a "midsize" car in Europe. In the US, it's considered small, but in Europe it would be considered a family car. Cars the size of a Honda Insight are very common.

    2) More efficient engines. Lean burn gasoline and diesel engines. And lots of turbochargers. Turbochargers aren't just for performance cars, they capture waste energy from the engine and enhance the efficiency. It's far more cost effective to build a turborcharged engine than to build a hybrid.

    Also, it should be pointed out that riding a bus is far more energy efficient than driving a hybrid ever will be. Sure, not everybody wants to ride a bus, but you are saving more fuel and emiting less greenhouse gasses than driving around even in a hybrid.

    So what's my point? Toyota has the Prius. It's got alot of technical gee whiz stuff. But if they were serious about "saving the planet", every car they built would be a hybrid. Instead, Toyota and other automakers want to use hybrids to raise their CAFE average so they can sell more gas guzzlers at a profit (Toyota even tried to petition CARB in California to let them offset Prius sales with more Land Cruiser and large SUV and truck sales- but they failed). Or they want to apply the HSD technology to gas guzzlers, and make them only a little less gas guzzling so they can meet CAFE standards while continuing to sell oversized, overweight, ill-handling SUV's to the public.

    Prius is a big marketting plus for Toyota. It attracts customers to dealerships and gives Toyota a good image with the public, enhancing the prestige for every single car they sell. When they don't have a Prius on hand, they can always try to sell them something else, too. Again, if they were serious about selling cars with the HSD and inccreasing the fuel economy, they would be making lots of small hybrid cars, not SUV's. Instead, only a small fraction of all cars they make are hybrids. Their next planned hybrid is a large SUV that will consume more gas than many smaller cars or station wagons. Ford's first hybrid was a small SUV that barely gets the gas mileage of a small station wagon like the Toyota Matrix. Dodge's first "hybrids" were large trucks with very poor fuel economy. SUV's and trucks every where, but this is hardly energy efficiency. One guy driving to work in an overweight, overpowered hybrid car or SUV is not saving the planet.

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  3. #2

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Magnulus, you make some very good points.

    I'm not sure about saving the planet or anything along those lines, or CAFE requirements,

    But if they can make a 5 passenger car in a popular model that can get over 60MPG average per tank, I'll buy it.

    And I did

  4. #3

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Hmmmm. UK Imperial gallon is 10% larger than the US gal. So a my HCH getting 50mpg is the equivalent of 55mpg in the UK. Add to that the emissions - being ULEV puts 50% less CO2 into the atmosphere. Compared to the typical 20mpg US car that is 5 times less emissions.

    It might not save the planet - but I sure wish everyone was driving hybrids right now.

  5. #4

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Yes, but the 40 mpg I quoted was US measure. In Europe they usually measure fuel economy by litres of fuel consumed per 100 KM. So the Audi A2 and Lupo TDI are called "3 Litre" cars because that's how much fuel they consume per 100 KM, not because of the engine size (actually more like 1.2 L, 4 cylinder). 3 litre/100 KM is almost 80 miles per gallon

  6. #5

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    And lets not forget the smart (now available in Canada) is also a 3 litre car and has the best milage in North America for a conventional engine.

  7. #6

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Magnulus, don't forget that Honda and Toyta do happen to make excellent diesels. The Honda Accord diesel is revolutionary and regarded as one of the best anywhere.

    They chose not to jump through the hoops to market diesels in N. America (or at least the USA) where diesels have low acceptance. I can assure you if an Accord diesel was sold in Canada, with legendary Honda reliability to back it up, VW would face some serious competition. I for one would probably buy one. As others have pointed out VW have a spotty record for reliability. We're on our second and third TDIs. The first one was not reliable but the two current ones have 22,000 and 33,000 km respectively and have been absolutely trouble-free.

    Hopefully ULSD will give us a greater range of diesels to chose from.

    Mike G.

  8. #7

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Yeah, but I don't live in the UK, or anywhere in Europe. Hybrids are the best thing going so far in the US, so thats where my money is going.

    And I fail to see how marketing hybrid technology is going to help SUV sales in the slightest. Sure, it might improve their image, but if I was looking for an SUV, I probably wouldn't give 2 rats' a$$e$ if they offered hybrid cars or not. And people who are looking for hybrid cars probably don't care what SUV's are offered (except in the case of ppl who want both).

    If anyone is trying to slight the government and the public, its probably GM. They're installing a kinda-sorta-almost-fake hybrid system into a few of their cars, but it's not truly a hybrid technology because the electric motors won't be pushig the car much, if at all. The motor is really there to facilitate the use of the "auto engine stop" feature that is just a neat side-effect of today's hybrids.

    Toyota and Honda are doing a fine job leading the hybrid cause, and kudos to them for not only offering the first hybrids in the states, but also for forking out enough money to have their production lines reworked to accommodate the hybrid technologies. Also, kudos to them for spurring the US manufacturers into high gear in getting more fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Kudos to them for making not only fuel-efficient vehicles, but also very clean vehicles. Kudos to them for adding extremely revolutionary new technologies to their product line with no knowledge of how the public would accept it. They deserve every penny of profit they make from hybrid sales, and I just pray that they use some of that profit to fund research into still better systems.

  9. #8

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Sorry, missed a point.

    "So what's my point? Toyota has the Prius. It's got alot of technical gee whiz stuff. But if they were serious about 'saving the planet', every car they built would be a hybrid."

    Honda converted the Accord and the Civic to hybrid power plants.

    Toyota converted the Highlander and the Lexus 330h (right?) into hybrid vehicles.

    Ford converted the Escape to a hybrid-powered vehicle.

    Give it time.

  10. #9

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Give it time? Sure. But they are using this hybrid technology to push cars through that are not really raising our average fuel economy much.

    The Accord might be a nice car but it is not that much more fuel efficient than the regular Accord. Some of these hybrids they have comming out aren't even real hybrids (Saturn Vue with the integrated starter motor- a very good feature but not a hybrid). Hybrid is just becomming a branding name that's essentially meaningless.

    And an SUV or truck might not be the most fuel efficient choice, regardless of what is under the hood. People haven't been looking around at cars much, but there are plenty of cars with lots of interior room and good fuel economy. The Toyota Matrix will get 36 miles per gallon on the highway, can come with AWD, and it's not a hybrid, but it does have as much interior room as a small SUV. The Scion cars also have alot of room for small cars Even a Dodge Magnum with the basic V-6 engine will do twice as good as driving around a Ford Explorer.

    Some people bring up safety as a reason to buy an SUV, but that is also mostly BS. Truck based vehicles really don't perform that well in most real-world crash tests, not as well as some people are lead to believe. Look at the Insurance Institutes crashes for trucks and SUV's. The IIHS uses very brutal tests that are more "real world" than the tests the government does, where only a fraction of collisions are truely fully head-on. They are littered with poor and average ratings. The Ford F-150 in particular got very bad crash ratings, the Ranger only got average, and the Dodge Durango also got an average (there are many more). So just what is so good about driving around something that looks like a tough truck? They did a test where they smashed a Mini into the front of an F-150, and the dummies in the Mini did better than the dummies in the Ford.

    Some of these trucks and SUV's are not offering any more protection than a smaller car, not really that much more useful carrying capacity, but they will cost more to fuel thanks to the heavier weight and larger engines.

    I would have the same problems, BTW, with putting a large V-6 or V-8 diesel engine in a truck or SUV, selling those in large numbers, and calling that "fuel efficiency".

    The only people who need trucks or SUV's are people who are going to use them to actually haul things- routinely. Groceries or kids don't count.

  11. #10

    Reality check- hybrids, fuel efficiency

    Terrific points, Magnulus. You obviously care very deeply about this topic. A google check of your unusual name led me to literally hundreds of pages of your impassioned words on the subject of fuel efficiency. You obviously have thought a great deal about this, judging from the number of posts you've made to various websites.

    According to some of those posts, you drive a diesel Jetta. Good for you! But please, do not disparage those of us who choose the hybrid route. For many of us, this is the best option available to us at the present time. We're in this together, and all trying to lessen our dependence on oil. In fact, I'd love to purchase my hydrogen-powered car right now!

    Until that day, for me, hybrids will have to do.

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