Hybrid Hype RIP

Glenn Swanson
by Glenn Swanson
hybrid hype rip

"Hybrids are technologically of doubtful benefit, and expensive, but necessary from a political and public relations point of view. The reduction in fuel consumption does not pay for the technological content and cost of the vehicle." GM Car Czar Bob Lutz, July 19, 2006. Fast forward to today… "While the overall U.S. vehicle market is down, hybrids are a bright spot in the automotive industry with this category projected to easily exceed 300,000 vehicles this year." This from R.L. Polk's Lonnie Miller. Compared to the first seven months of 2006, hybrid sales are up more than 49 percent. "Hybrids are being adopted by vehicle buyers in all regions at an increasing rate for many factors which include fuel prices, differentiating themselves from other consumers and environmental activism," Miller announced in a PRNewswire press release. Overall, the Toyota Prius captured over 50 percent of hybrid sales, followed by the Camry hybrid at 15 percent. Looks like the technology Lutz claimed best suited the "what-would-Jesus-drive crowd" is here to stay. “Hybrids have not hit plateau,” Miller affirmed.

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  • Glenn126 Glenn126 on Sep 20, 2007

    MgoBLUE, I was at the Honda dealer last weekend "considering" a left-over 2007 Honda Civic IMA (instead my ordered '08 Prius arrived Monday - yeah!) and talked with the salesman, who I've visited before (in my prior Prius) and he says there will be a Prius competitor coming - a gasoline/hybrid car - at a lower price than the Civic IMA, in about 2009. As for the FCX, Honda said 18 months ago or so that by 2008, they'd be offering some for lease in Japan and California, in pretty much the form the (burgundy and beautifully futuristic) show cars were seen. Thing is, just like the natural gas powered Civic GX, a hydrogen fuelled car would need to be filled up at home (and specialty equipment installed). I haven't seen "one" hydrogen fillin' station 'round here, nor anywhere else in my travels. Perhaps I'll see one before I die? (Just turned 50).

  • MgoBLUE MgoBLUE on Sep 20, 2007

    glenn126 -- thanks for the info. What does IMA stand for?

  • Johnson Johnson on Sep 20, 2007
    Frank Williams: Please explain, since they have a 4-cylinder gasoline engine that works just like the one in millions of “regular” cars PLUS the mechanical parts needed to engage and disengage the electric drive motor and the mechanically-driven charging system (to include the regenerative brake system). And don’t bring up the CVT because there are hundreds of thousands of “regular” cars that use those too. As others have already mentioned, the Prius has a "brake-by-wire" system which is more reliable than traditional mechanical brakes. The regenerative braking system also extends the life of the brakes compared to a non-hybrid. Furthermore, let's not forget the electric steering the Prius has which is more reliable than mechanical steering. And the Prius does have a 4 cylinder like many other cars, BUT it is detuned (and runs at lower revs) meaning less stress put on the engine, AND the engine is not always on like a regular car. On average, the engine is on less than a regular car, which means again less stress put on the engine. While it's true that some cars might have electric steering, or some cars might have a CVT or "brake-by-wire" technology, there are no non-hybrid cars that have the combination of electric systems that the Prius has. Electric steering, brake-by-wire, CVT, regenerative braking, engine being detuned and not always turned on ... combine all these things together and you have a much more reliable car than your average vehicle, which also translates to lower service costs than a typical vehicle.
  • Glenn126 Glenn126 on Sep 21, 2007

    Hi MgoBLUE Honda's IMA acronym = "Integrated Motor Assist". While their technology is far more "simple" in some respects than Toyota/Nissan/Ford, and Hyundai/Kia are experimenting with a copy of IMA, in the big scheme of things I'd have to say the Toyota/Ford system is better, since the Honda system requires a transmission. In the case of the latest iteration of the Civic IMA, a dual pulley and steel belt constant velocity automatic. Earlier versions of the IMA Civic and Insight could have either 5 speed manual or CVT automatics. This doesn't mean I'm dissing the Honda system as "no-account" (aka "useless/stupid") because it's not. IMHO, any hybrid system which obtains a reasonable improvement in efficiency is worth-while, whether it be hydraulic or electric. I'm afraid my opinion of GM's "hybrid lite" system in the Aura and Malibooby are not that positive. "So, okay, GM - you're telling me that - with the added expense of the lite hybrid system and batteries - you're only giving me HOW much efficiency advantage?!" Therefore, if you are going to do hybrid, why not have 100% efficiency gain, as seen on a Prius (when compared to COMPARABLE MID-SIZED cars, not titchy little not-available-in-the-US VW Bluethingiemajigger whatever it's called micro diesel cars with room for your @ss and a gallon of diesel - oh wait - that limerick won't work with a diesel car, dang...)