By on November 19, 2007

x08gm_yu044.jpgAutumn in Texas plays host to a weekly cultural phenomenon known as high school football. Burgeoning grid iron gods burst on to the field of play from inflatable tunnels through mists of smoke and a phalanx of sparkly drill team coeds. A 300-student marching band plays the school fight song while two dozen cheerleaders power tumble across the field to herald the arrival of the young jocks. The stadium fills with ten thousand spectators-– mostly proud parents and rabid students-– who arrived to the game in typical Texas fashion: by truck. It is under the glare of these Friday night lights that I examine the value of GM's new hybrid SUVs.

Contrary to popular belief, these vehicular behemoths are seldom used as single passenger commuter transport. Nor are they all owned by rural hicks working a ranch. They’re mostly driven by busy parents hauling their children, kid’s friends and equipment to dozens of school, church and sporting events. And yes, many of the Lone Star State's SUV owners regularly pull boats to the north Texas lakes. These buyers are, indeed, the “power users” for which these massively-powered big-framed vehicles were designed.

Even if you reject this “justification” for SUV and pickup truck ownership as a luxury our country (or the planet) can no longer afford, even if you disallow the argument that small cars just don’t cut it in America’s rural heartland, know this: Texan big rig buyers aren’t blind or immune to high gasoline prices. They understand and appreciate environmental concerns. And they sure as Hell get the connection between foreign military entanglements and the politics of oil production. For this savvy SUV market at least, the General’s hybridization of the Tahoe makes perfect sense.

Toyota, and to a lesser extent Honda, have occupied the eco-friendly automotive mindspace by fitting hybrid engines into small or midsize front wheel drive cars; vehicles that are already amongst their most economical platforms. Gas – electric propulsion has generally boosted these cars’ fuel efficiency from EPA estimates in the 30mpg range, to the 40mpg range. It’s an amazing technological accomplishment that fully deserves the PR plaudits and financial rewards received. 

By comparison, the 4×2 hybrid Yukon looks like a misfire. The two-mode hybrid system “only” delivers 21/22 miles per gallon. Aside from buyers of high-priced luxury cars, no sedan driving consumer in his right mind would settle for that kind of mileage. Mileage in the twenties? How great is that? Counter intuitively, it’s quite amazing. Indeed, by my calculations it is 39 percent better in conservation terms than putting a hybrid engine in an already economical car.

Let’s run some numbers. 

The 2008 Honda Civic sedan is powered by a 140hp, 1.8-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder engine. Mated to a five-speed manual, the Civic’s EPA numbers clock-in at 25mpg around town, and 36mpg on the highway. In a year of combined driving (15k miles at 29mpg), a Civic owner would need to pump 517.2 gallons into his or her petrol sipper.

Honda’s effort to supercharge the mpg results with a hybrid electric elevates mileage to 40/45mpg. In a typical year of driving, the Civic owner burns 357.1 gallons of CO2-emitting gasoline (based on combined 42mpg). That’s a savings of 160.1 gallons.

A typical 4×2 Chevy Tahoe rumbling through Lone Star State suburbs has a 5.3-liter V8 Vortec engine mated to ye olde four-speed cogswapper. Tea leaves, chicken bones, and entrails tell the prognosticating bureaucrats at the EPA that the rig will achieve 14mpg while stoppin' and goin' and 20mpg while crusin'. In a year of driving at 16mpg combined, the Tahoe owner will have to feed the beast 937.5 gallons of dead dino juice.

Despite having a larger 6.0-liter V8 engine, the Tahoe Hybrid increases 'round town gas mileage by 50 percent and highway mileage by 10 percent (21/22mpg). Over 15k miles, the hybrid variant chugs only 714.3 gallons; saving the Tahoe driver (and the environment) 223.2 gallons.

In other words, a Tahoe owner that opts for hybrid saves 63.1 more gallons of gasoline every year than a Civic driver who makes the same choice.

This demonstrates what GM has been saying for years: improving the gas mileage of the thirstiest (and most popular) vehicles is more important for reducing consumption, pollution and CO2 than wringing stratospheric mileage from the cars that are already among the most fuel efficient.

Of course, many environmentally-conscious people would like to see Yukon drivers trade-in their “obscenely large” family truckster for a more “practical” Civic Hybrid or suchlike. But as long as we live in a free country, individuals are free to determine which vehicle best suits their lifestyle, financial constraints and belief system. For those of us who huddle against the chill air in rural high school football stadiums, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid looks like a remarkable, yes sensible, option. I wish it well.

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86 Comments on “In Defense of: GM’s Hybrid SUVs...”


  • avatar
    shaker

    This is the most expensive vehicle of its type that GM offers; do you think that this fact could have influenced “The General’s” strategy?

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    I agree with the benefits of improving the worse offenders ie. SUVs.

    My problem is that the Yukahoe is such an inneffiecient vehicle right from the get go.

    Instead of spending all that R&D money, then charging a premium on just the hybrid models, why not make the effort to make these things more efficient right from the start? Make them lighter, improve the archaic pushrod, put in a 6-speed (or even a CVT!) transmission… Anything!

    The Prius doesn’t just get good mileage because of its hybrid motor. It was designed as a fuel-miser right from the start. Take its hybrid motor out, replace it with a standard 4-banger, or even a V6, and it will still get good mileage.

    That’s what GM needs. The “Prius of SUVs”. Right now, these things are the “Saturn VUE Greenline” of big SUVs. Nothing more than half-assed. The only reason they are getting any attention at all is because they happen to be the first.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    Blunozer,
    The 2 mode hybrid system is anything but half-assed. It is quite an advanced an efficient system, google it to see for yourself.
    I think the problem is, as the author pointed out, that the hybrid trucks simply don’t SEEM to improve mileage that much, even though the improvement is impressive.
    The GM SBC V-8’s are already some of the lightest most efficient V-8’s on the planet due to their simple, reliable design. Any hot-rodder can vouch for that.
    I agree that all of them need to 6 speed transmissions ASAP, not just the Slade & Denali.
    Inherently, these big trucks are thirsty from the start.
    Hybridization of vehicles like this makes sense for automakers.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    This is nothing but a cynical joke foisted on the public. Where is the light duty diesel that could economically power these vehicles? Another poster mentioned more efficient transmissions. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been in a torque/horsepower war with their diesel pickups uprating their diesel engines every year at the expense of economy and reliability. Few users need this but it helps sell vehicles.

    Don’t believe for a millisecond that this vehicle is nothing but a sham to sell to the feel good enviro crowd. Excellent options abound but high mileage diesels don’t sound as good as the buzzword of the day “Hybrid”

    Hybridization of vehicles like this makes sense for automakers.

    For them, yes. For us, no.

    PS: I am a little cynical, especially concerning GM.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    I am suprised GM didn’t develop this hybrid system for their new Lambda SUV’s. That would seem like a better option for the typical SUV owner, (ie: soccermom, family of 5). A 7 pssger Crossover that was able to get 30mpg city would be a real hit I think.
    It would at least be a better starting point than a 3 ton Truck based SUV with a 6.0L V8!

  • avatar
    CeeDragon

    But as long as we live in a free country, individual are free to determine which vehicle best suits their lifestyle, financial constraints and belief system.

    To me, there seems to be confusion about what what people can do, versus what they should do (in an analytical sense, not a moral or ethical way). Of course, people can choose whatever vehicle they want. Period.

    But the crux of the discussion is: given a person’s needs, which vehicles best suits them? The GM Hybrid SUVs certainly meet a segment of the population’s needs. It’s how well and in what numbers they do so.

    I think one of the biggest factors in buying a full-size SUV is the tough-guy image. If that’s what suits people and they’re willing to pay for it, then that’s the free market working.

    But please don’t tell me that it has to do with anything logical or rational. If it did, minivans would rule.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Speaking of light diesels, the GL320 CDI gets the same mileage, is in the same price range, tows 1000lbs more, is available in most states, and doesn’t have the added complexity of the hybrid powertrain which just started production last month. Beta testing, anyone? GM’s own diesel for truck duty is due in a couple of years, I recall.

    If you don’t need to tow as much, GM’s Lambda lineup is available for less without having reinvented the wheel as well as multiple competitors’ offerings.

    CeeDragon:
    I’m a full time minivan driver, does that make me rational or logical? Hah, I wish! Cheap, yes – two minivans cost less than one of these hybrid Yukahoes.

  • avatar
    wannabewannabe

    What I don’t understand is why GM didn’t use the 5.3 V8 with its displacement on demand system in combination with the new dual mode hybrid system. Maybe I’m just unsophisticated about this, but it seems to me that the hybrid system could have provided the extra power needed to compensate for the additional weight of the batteries while returning even better gas mileage. Maybe the Tahoe needs the 6.0 V8 to overcome the weight of batteries at slow speeds?

    I think if GM was genuinely concerned about improving gas mileage fleetwide, the would make the hybrid option available as a stand-alone option on all of its trucks. GM should also incorporate the displacement on demand technology into all of its LS-based V8, regardless of the displacement. As it stands now in the pickups, the 5.3 makes better power and gas mileage than the 4.8 because of the DoD system. Yes, this kind of technology costs money, but make it an option for those who want it. If you still need a truck to haul your boat to the lake, fine, but at least let’s do what we can to get the best mileage out of trucks as we can.

  • avatar
    CeeDragon

    starlightmica :
    November 19th, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I’m a full time minivan driver, does that make me rational or logical? Hah, I wish! Cheap, yes – two minivans cost less than one of these hybrid Yukahoes.

    I think that proves my point. You’ve found vechicles that meet your needs at a good price point for you. I bet you’re getting much better real-world gas mileage than the GM Hybrid SUVs. But you’re not that concerned about image. :)

    (Full disclosure – my wife traded in her MDX for an Odyssey and everyone’s happier)

  • avatar

    How much weight does the hybrid system add to the already titanic mass of the Yuckahoe?

    I want to know because I have foreseen my death, and it is balled up in the wheel well of a Tahoe that just ran a red light as it’s latte-sipping soccer mom was hitting redial on her cell phone and missed seeing both the red light and me out for a Sunday drive in my father’s old Jaguar E-type… the car that I treasure as a family heirloom… which is only 2400lbs and about 36″ high. I’m hoping she hits me with the Hybrid version, because at least she’ll be saving the planet by getting better MPG than my 43 year old car.

    –chuck
    http://chuck.goolsbee.org

  • avatar
    brownie

    chuckgoolsbee: Amen, thank you. This is my main complaint with SUV’s – they may (almost) get the same mileage as minivans, but I’m not going to get wedged under a minivan in a low-speed collision.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    when the market speaks the makers respond. Likea famous genetist recently opined, ” just because you wish it not to be true does not make it so”

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    To emphasize Mr Montgomery’s point on GM’s strategy to ecomomize the biggest fuel users to save the most fuel, please consider the results from GM’s first application of dual mode hybrids, transit buses. In a recent DOE report, results from the initial commercial usage of these buses was described. The hybrid buses easily reached 27% improvement in fuel savings(diesel in this case) resulting in fuel savings per bus per year over 2000 gallons. The beauty here is that the technology is cost effective in this application, even with the significantly higher initial cost. Read about it here:

    http://www.nrel.gov/vehiclesandfuels/fleettest/pdfs/40585.pdf

    Given that the technology was in hand, if GM hadn’t applied it to the big SUVs, they would have been crucified for holding it back. Guaranteed.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    See, the problem I have with the statement of “I need my SUV to haul my kids” is two fold. 1. They could drive something more efficient without question. 2. On my way to work today I counted 72 full size SUVs, Tahoes, Suburbans, Excalades, Sequoias, Durangos, Aspens, etc. There was only one of them with more than just the driver in the vehicle. I dont doubt that the city streets may be filled with more full size SUV kid schlepers, but it does not seem to me to be the majority.

  • avatar

    If the object is to move people and “stuff”, a mini-van or FWD-based SUV is an available non-hybrid means to move people and stuff in a vehicle which weighs 1000 to 1500 pounds less than a Yukahoe. And if we saw even a reasonable percentage of these behemoths running around pulling trailers, their use would be justified. The predominance of this class of vehicle is a direct result of their being exempt for many years from the smog, CAFE and safety rules which were applied to automobiles. It was spurred on, and continues to be so, by a tax law which allows businesses to expense vehicles north of 6000 lb GVW. The profit was built in by virtue of the lack of development which had to be done to keep manufacturing them, and consumers responded to a tax law enacted for the benefit of the Big 2.8 by buying them.

    Having painted ourselves into a corner, with help from a worthless Congress, the big Hybrid SUV now appears to make some sense, much as having packed a ladder would do had we dug ourselves into a hole. The question should also be, why are we in the hole in the first place?

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Jeff in Canada – The Lambda’s will get the 2-mode system within 2 years (GM has said they will average a new hybrid model every 3 months for the 4 years – total of 16)

    chuckgoolsbee – Hybrid Tahoe weighs basically the same as normal Tahoe (they used some weight savings tricks to keep the weight gain in check)

  • avatar

    Wow these Texas Boyz sure make good writers.

    The Friday Night Lights intro works for me: I remember plenty of trips in a 1980’s Surburban to haul drums (or 8 drummers) to and from the stadium. Those were the days. My only beef with the Hybrid is its cost over a regular model. Maybe that can be lowered with tax credits and sweetheart lease deal.

    But for those who don’t understand why people like gen-u-wine SUVs, please remember these simple facts:

    1. People don’t buy SUVs with the dealer pointing a gun to their heads. They actually want them.

    2. The only way to make people NOT like them is to tax the hell outta gas.

    3. This is a free country and your freedom ends where my nose begins. Get over it.

  • avatar
    MH900e

    First time commenting, but have been a reader for a few years.

    I understand that by volume, the switching from a Tahoe to the Tahoe Hybrid saves more gallons of gas than from the Civic to Civic Hybrid, but by your numbers, the Civic 357.1/517.2 = 31% more efficient (or 31% reduction in owners gas cost) compared to the Tahoe 714.3/937.5 = 24%.

    The Honda conversion to Hybrid still gains more efficiency than the Tahoe.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    See, the problem I have with the statement of “I need my SUV to haul my kids” is two fold. 1. They could drive something more efficient without question. 2. On my way to work today I counted 72 full size SUVs, Tahoes, Suburbans, Excalades, Sequoias, Durangos, Aspens, etc. There was only one of them with more than just the driver in the vehicle. I dont doubt that the city streets may be filled with more full size SUV kid schlepers, but it does not seem to me to be the majority.

    You can’t judge vehicle usage by what you see when you are commuting to work. How many parents do you know that take their kids to work every day? By the time they get on the interstate and head downtown they have already dropped off their pediatric payload at school or the local day care. SUV drivers are also not likely to pull their boat to work or haul any of the other junk they busy themselves with on the weekends.

    Are there people that buy SUVs as a fashion statement and do none of the above? Of course, but most people don’t. There’s plenty of objective statistical data to back this up.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    William C Montgomery:
    In other words, a Tahoe owner that opts for hybrid saves 63.1 more gallons of gasoline every year than a Civic driver who makes the same choice.

    This demonstrates what GM has been saying for years: improving the gas mileage of the thirstiest (and most popular) vehicles is more important for reducing consumption, pollution and CO2 than wringing stratospheric mileage from the cars that are already among the most fuel efficient.

    This is a flawed argument. Of course you’ll save more fuel moving to a Tahoe hybrid because the Tahoe is MUCH thirstier than a Civic in the first place. If we hypothetically say that both the Civic hybrid and Tahoe hybrid get the same percentage improvement in fuel economy over their gas counterparts it will still mean that the Tahoe hybrid saves more fuel compared to a Civic hybrid. It’s simply because a Tahoe is thirsty to begin with, while a regular Civic is very efficient to begin with.

    If that’s the main argument for buying a Tahoe hybrid, then it’s not much of an argument at all. Add the fact that GM’s hybrid SUVs have reduced tow ratings and reduced payloads compared to the regular versions of the SUVs, and suddenly they don’t look so great as a people mover. In other words, GM’s hybrid SUVs have limited functionality as people movers compared to GM’s regular SUVs. Then there is the fact that GM’s full-size CUVs offer plenty of interior room, and very close payload and towing numbers compared to GM’s hybrid SUVs while getting just-as-good fuel economy and costing significantly less. The RX and Highlander hybrids also cost much less than GM’s hybrid SUVs.

    You have to look at the whole picture here: how many hybrid SUVs will GM even sell? Will it be more units sold than the amount of Civic hybrids Honda sells? The high price of the hybrid SUVs will definitely limit sales. When you consider the fact that GM won’t be selling a whole lot of these hybrid SUVs then it becomes clear that as whole they won’t be making a big impact on reducing fuel consumption or reducing emissions.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “Where is the light duty diesel that could economically power these vehicles?”

    Research diesel fuel sulfur content and emissions regulations to see your answer. Reduced sulfur content is finally being phased in.

    Many companies, including GM, are working on solutions to hitting the emissions regulations without resorting to urea tanks which need to be replenished on a regular basis (Mercedes’ solution). GM is said to have such an engine in the works for 2009 introduction:

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/08/25/autos/gm_diesel/index.htm

    Honda also has a new diesel engine in the works as does VW.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Freedom my @$$. We’re geopolitical and economic hostages to the supply and price of oil, for starters.

    $100/barrel oil political cartoons, anyone?

  • avatar
    NBK-Boston

    As far as Montgomery’s argument goes, I think he’s right — each hybrid SUV saves more gallons of gas than each hybrid sedan, assuming equal mileage driven per year.

    The first question out of the gate, though, is how much more premium do you pay to hybridize an SUV versus the premium to hybridize a sedan? If the premium is much higher, than it can cancel out the fuel savings. I mean that in dollars, and I take dollars to be a rough proxy for energy (and CO2) intensity as well. He hasn’t answered that question yet, and if the numbers are bad, his argument fails before the first vehicle drives off the lot.

    But even assuming you are ahead dollars-wise, the argument really only makes sense if you are absolutely wedded to the fact that the SUVs would be sold anyway, or are the best solution to the people- and gear-hauling needs of the Texan suburban masses. I think many people posting here doubt that most motorists who claim to need this vehicle really need quite this much vehicle.

    The point is, you can crunch the numbers and decide that even if the hybrid premium is high, the savings still work out in the end. So buy the hybrid version of this vehicle if you have the money and feel inclined. You’ll save money and fuel over the conventional version. And if you desire the image/capabilities of the SUV, you will now be able to enjoy them for slightly less money and environmental impact.

    But the one thing you shouldn’t do is wave your green credentials around like you are some sort of hero. Because a lot of spectators will look long and hard at you and your lifestyle, and ask themselves whether your initial choice to buy into the SUV segment was really justified, or whether someone in your position who had real green aspirations would have opted for some other vehicle class instead.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    This is a flawed argument. Of course you’ll save more fuel moving to a Tahoe hybrid because the Tahoe is MUCH thirstier than a Civic in the first place. If we hypothetically say that both the Civic hybrid and Tahoe hybrid get the same percentage improvement in fuel economy over their gas counterparts it will still mean that the Tahoe hybrid saves more fuel compared to a Civic hybrid. It’s simply because a Tahoe is thirsty to begin with, while a regular Civic is very efficient to begin with.

    That’s exactly the point. The greatest opportunity for reducing fuel consumption is to improve the fuel economy of the least fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Better that GM is addressing the Tahoe than the Cobalt.

    Personally, I think the best solution would be for GM to put a fuel efficient 6-cylinder diesel that produces similar power as the 5.3L V8 into the Tahoe at entry level prices. But since that won’t fly in California and the automaton states that follow her environmental standards; I understand why GM chose Hybrid. Besides, they get greener brownie points from the partially informed masses who think that Hybrid vehicles can stop the globe from warming.

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    William C Montgomery :

    That’s exactly the point. The greatest opportunity for reducing fuel consumption is to improve the fuel economy of the least fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Better that GM is addressing the Tahoe than the Cobalt.

    I think I’d politely disagree with you; the real numbers need to factor in the quantity of vehicles sold – or really the total mileage driven by all vehicles in each category. In your example of the Cobalt vs. Tahoe, if 10 Cobalts are sold for every Tahoe (and each make is drive the same amount by the owners), you are still much better off making the Cobalt more efficient then the Tahoe – even if the net gain per vehicle is better for the Tahoe.
    –Brendon

  • avatar
    brownie

    I’m no SUV fan, but I’ll take the opposite from my usual view on this. Yes, calling a huge hybrid SUV “green” is silly, but improving the mileage of huge SUV’s is not silly. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether people need full-size SUV’s, but they do buy them. Given that people buy them, making them more efficient is better than making them less efficient.

    Also, today’s premium feature is tomorrow’s standard feature. It won’t be too long until vehicles like this are only available in hybrid form, at which point the “green aura” will probably be gone. But they will still consume less gas than the alternative.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    I don’t get the “haul kids around” argument. I’m early 40’s, and I sure as hell don’t remember being driven around. If I had asked my parents to drive me somewhere, they would have looked at me like I had grown an extra head.

    We took the school bus to school. Otherwise, we walked or rode our bikes. Later, when I was a teenager, if I had to go some distance, then I either hitch-hiked, used public transport, or Greyhound.

    Perhaps it is time to rethink some of the justifications. I can’t help but feel that they are engineered excuses to justify a purchase.

    Speaking of driving…. when I was in high-school, my mom absolutely when ballistic when the school district decided to install a high-school student parking lot. She was furious the her tax dollars were being used to pay for a parking lot AND school buses.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Brendon:

    I completely agree with your point. Except the Cobalt doesn’t outsell the Yukon 10 to 1. Fifty-four percent of light vehicles sold in the US are light trucks, overwhelmingly dominated by Big 2.8 pickups. The light truck segment has the greatest potential for real impact due to the innate inefficiency of the base vehicles as well as the quantity of vehicles sold.

  • avatar
    Mj0lnir

    But even assuming you are ahead dollars-wise, the argument really only makes sense if you are absolutely wedded to the fact that the SUVs would be sold anyway, or are the best solution to the people- and gear-hauling needs of the Texan suburban masses. I think many people posting here doubt that most motorists who claim to need this vehicle really need quite this much vehicle.

    And?

    Whether they need them or not, they buy them.

    Shouldn’t we be happy to see mid-term solutions presented rather than continuing to blather about some un-obtainable fantasy land where everybody in rural Texas drives a Prius?

    Americans buy SUVs, whether TTAC readers like it or not.

    So, given that giant, useless SUVs will continue to grace our landscape, and given that many of those will be thirsty V8 domestic models, the question becomes rather simple:

    Is it better to have a hybrid Tahoe, or not?

    Set aside your utopian dreams.

    Resist the impulse to formulate yet another anti-SUV diatribe.

    Don’t give in to the desire to lecture SUV owners about their environmental responsibility.

    Actually think about this instead-

    If any of the people who currently drive a large V8 body-on-frame SUV trade it in on one of these, it means they use less fuel and create less pollution this year than they did last year, and it’s my understanding that that’s a good thing.

    If we can make even one of those Texas stadium parking lots entirely Hybrid, how much benefit does that bring over what they currently drive?

    I’m guessing you’ll have more luck convinving them to trade their current Tahoe in on a hybrid Tahoe than you will getting them to buy a slightly less expensive Prius.

    If each of you gave up your efforts to preach the small sedan word and used that zeal to convince just one friend or family member to give up their old SUV and drive one of these instead you’d do a hell of a lot more for our fuel consumption and environment than any amount of inspired anti-SUV diatribes.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The problem is that GM is drinking its own “cool-aide” regarding the the SUV market. People driving around in 6000lb “Trucks” was/is a fashion statement fad that is dying.

    What is with America with all of these stupid ideas going around lately? SUVs? Sub-Prime Mortgages? It is a given that folks can and will make money based on false and stupid concepts in the short term, but that is it! There is no longevity in stupid ideas.

    Like it or not it is time for GM, and Ford to move away from the full-sized as a core business component. To continue to expect to make profits by selling folks stuff they just dont need is just dumb. The average American has 2 (TWO) children not 4 or 5. The average American of all income levels does not own a boat or trailer of any nature. NO ONE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD TOWS ANYTHING! If they do they rent a damn Uhaul.

    By investing in this dual mode Hybrid for their full-sized SUVs GM is foolishly betting that they can continue with this silly fad of soccer moms driving around in APCs. 30 years ago Americans abandoned Detroits full sized sedans and coupes in droves because these cars were seen ineffeicent. The same is happening today for the same reasons.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    William Montgomery: “Personally, I think the best solution would be for GM to put a fuel efficient 6-cylinder diesel that produces similar power as the 5.3L V8 into the Tahoe at entry level prices.”

    GM’s 4.5 liter diesel is coming (2009?), and will be 50 state compliant. It will increase efficiency 25%. And it will be a better choice for those that spend a lot of time on the highway.

    William, your basic argument is correct, and has been well know in green car circles. The economics (of GM’s truck hybrids) is another question, as street prices are not know yet, and may be $8k more than non-hybrid prices.

  • avatar
    GMis4GoodManners

    Bill Wade :
    November 19th, 2007 at 9:22 am
    “PS: I am a little cynical, especially concerning GM.”

    Knowing it is half the battle.

  • avatar
    GMis4GoodManners

    Jeff in Canada writes: “I am suprised GM didn’t develop this hybrid system for their new Lambda SUV’s. That would seem like a better option for the typical SUV owner, (ie: soccermom, family of 5). A 7 pssger Crossover that was able to get 30mpg city would be a real hit I think.
    It would at least be a better starting point than a 3 ton Truck based SUV with a 6.0L V8!”

    A variation is scheduled to go into the Saturn Vue in about a year, which basically has the same engine/transmission of the Lambdas (same fuel economy in a considerably smaller vehicle).

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    As the person who covered the GCOTY award for TTAC, I should weigh in on this one.

    To the extent that this is a rebuttal to my coverage of that event, I should clarify once again that my criticism was not of the Tahoe per se, but with a self-appointed environmental organization having the gall to refer to such a beast as “green.”

    In his fine article of two days ago, Mr. Syed made a basic point that merits repeating: there is no such thing as a “green” car. By their very nature, cars are direct and indirect polluters, as they consume considerable resources to produce and use, and require extensive infrastructure to operate. So some cars are less “brown” than others, but there is nothing environmentally positive about any of them.

    Of course, we are all happy that a hybrid Tahoe gets better fuel economy than a normal one, but that was never really the point. It also gets better fuel economy than a Sherman tank, but unless you’re in Normandy fighting the Nazis, you probably don’t need one. What the environmental movement is questioning, rightly or wrongly, is how many people truly need (as opposed to want) such a thing, and to challenge their desire to own one.

    A 1969 Mustang got about 10 mpg; a 2008 model averages 18 mpg, an 80% improvement. But I don’t think that any of us would be ridiculous enough to pretend that a ’08 ‘Stang is a “green” car. It may be a fun car or a fast car, but green it is not.

    An environmentalist or anyone concerned about the consumption level of resources would see this as the equivalent of a morbidly obese person reducing the size of breakfast from six eggs to five. While we’re all thrilled with the reduction in egg intake, the question being asked is why you can’t content yourself with just two, for example. The ultimate goal here is not to just have modest improvements over a poor baseline, but to reduce intake and actually lose some weight.

    I think that we need to have a reality check here and understand that if you truly, sincerely want to be “green”, then you’re going to have make some sacrifices, end of story. If you don’t want to make sacrifices, then just be honest about it instead of pretending to be green.

    I don’t blame GM for making them if people want them, I just find it hilarious that the buyers of such vehicles are vain enough to congratulate themselves for their purchase, when most of them could have figured out how to live with a smaller peoplemover if they really wanted to. (For one thing, a sincere “green” would not even want to spend weekend upon weekend recreating with and towing Jetskis, ATV’s and ski boats, given their environmental impact.) I think what really sets off most of the critics is the hypocrisy, it’s just too blatant not to laugh about it.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    That’s exactly the point. The greatest opportunity for reducing fuel consumption is to improve the fuel economy of the least fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Better that GM is addressing the Tahoe than the Cobalt.

    Personally, I think the best solution would be for GM to put a fuel efficient 6-cylinder diesel that produces similar power as the 5.3L V8 into the Tahoe at entry level prices. But since that won’t fly in California and the automaton states that follow her environmental standards; I understand why GM chose Hybrid. Besides, they get greener brownie points from the partially informed masses who think that Hybrid vehicles can stop the globe from warming.

    Again, you’re missing the point. The greatest opportunity to reduce fuel consumption is NOT just to look at the thirstiest vehicles and be done with it.

    The biggest opportunity for reducing fuel consumption is looking at the MOST popular vehicles and looking to see if there is a market for hybrid versions.

    Fact is, the Prius is doing more than reduce fuel consumption and emissions than these GM hybrid SUVs ever will. There have been almost 1 million Priuses sold around the world already. Each Prius sold means one less emission-spouting diesel or one less gasoline-powered midsize vehicle on the road.

    GM also has to consider that the pickup truck market is very price sensitive. I can already imagine that GM’s hybrid pickups will be expensive and that they will be sold in limited numbers and will not make a real impact.

    It’s narrow-minded to look at only the thirstiest vehicles. You also need to look at how many units of those thirsty vehicles are being sold. Then you have to look at the market viability of hybrid versions of those vehicles, and how many of THOSE would be sold.

    I will say right here and right now GM will sell less hybrid SUVs each month than Toyota sells hybrid RX and hybrid Highlander models.

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    William C Montgomery :

    I completely agree with your point. Except the Cobalt doesn’t outsell the Yukon 10 to 1. Fifty-four percent of light vehicles sold in the US are light trucks, overwhelmingly dominated by Big 2.8 pickups. The light truck segment has the greatest potential for real impact due to the innate inefficiency of the base vehicles as well as the quantity of vehicles sold.

    William:
    I’ll concede the point – Yukon sales YTD are ~126k units and the Cobalt is at ~170k units (per gm.com). If truck sales continue to be this high, the potential for impact is quite large… I’m somewhat surprised at the numbers, but perhaps I simply see a greater percentage of cars relative to trucks in my section of Canada.

    Johnson:

    I think I was trying to make the same point – the real number should reflect the total number of miles driven by all the vehicles of any one type… This is analogous to my argument for buying a LandRover LR3 (still shopping!) – yes, it is not a very efficient vehicle, but I often telecommute, walk or rollerblade to work; my fuel usage is far less then my neighbour with a Prius that drives 3+ hours a day to work and back.

    I’ll also echo the sentiment about raising gas taxes – probably the easiest way to solve the issue!

  • avatar
    kph

    I have three kids and I squeeze them into my 2004 WRX. It supposedly gets 20 mpg in the city by the old EPA standards, but I’ve been getting 18-19 mpg. And honestly, I really am not an aggressive driver, especially with kids in the car.

    If the Tahoe Hybrid gets a real world 21 mpg in the city, it’s more fuel efficient than what I’ve been getting in my WRX. And it wouldn’t need premium gas.

  • avatar
    mgrabo

    Lots of good discussion (full-disclosure I drive an 07 Tahoe and like Brendon from Canada my wife + me both work from home; my carbon offset on it costs $70/yr). I certainly don’t need this vehicle, but I really like using it as our family truckster.

    Gas taxes are definitely a necessary part of the remedy, but I believe that displacement tax is perhaps a more effective policy to drive industry change. These are a major component of the vehicular tax structure in the EU. They were phased in since the 80s so the auto makers had time to adjust their product plan. They factor engine displacement of a cars motor into the annual registration fee.

    It improves visibility into the cost of ownership for a buyer on the car lot a more than MPG ratings. Our reality in US is that mean math skills are not terribly impressive, so printing the displacement tax on the window sticker for all powertrains available on a given model would have a dramatic impact. Say the tax is eventually ratched all the way up to $300 per 1L displaced – registering that hypothetical 1.3L Camry would be about $400/yr. A 3.5L V6 would be on the order of $1050/yr. Faced with these costs on the window sticker, many Camry buyers would happily chose the 9.6sec 0-60 spec variant of their appliance.

    The other environmental benefit is the displacement tax creates an incentive to retire high-displacement legacy stock in favor of cleaner burning, higher efficiency vehicles.

    On the enthusiasts front, it’s also the reason that Euro car makers offer such desirable autos with those efficient powerplants they never seem to make it over to the US. Without any systematic advantage to offering smaller engines, the US will be caught in the catch-22 of enthusiasts wanting variants auto makers just won’t offer us…

  • avatar
    EJ

    William C Montgomery,

    Your calculations are very nice, but it doesn’t solve the problem the Tahoe hybrid is heavy and inefficient. It can’t really tow all that much and it doesn’t save much gas, so what’s the point?

    Toyota’s lineup makes more sense:
    Need to tow 5,000 pounds? Take a Toyota Highlander.
    Need to tow 10,000 lbs? Take a Toyota Sequoia.
    Need to commute long distance? Take a Toyota Prius.
    Simply want a large SUV? Take a Toyota Highlander hybrid.

    What is the Tahoe hybrid good for?

  • avatar
    geeber

    Adrian Imonti: A 1969 Mustang got about 10 mpg; a 2008 model averages 18 mpg, an 80% improvement. But I don’t think that any of us would be ridiculous enough to pretend that a ‘08 ‘Stang is a “green” car. It may be a fun car or a fast car, but green it is not.

    In all fairness, ONE version of the 1969 Mustang – the high-performance, top-of-the-line version – got 10 mpg. The car was also available with mild V-8s and a straight six that got decent mileage for the day, which was more than 10 mpg.

    Either way, the new Stang IS a green car compared to the old one, especially since the new car’s exhaust emissions are negligable compared to the 1969 model.

    Johnson: Fact is, the Prius is doing more than reduce fuel consumption and emissions than these GM hybrid SUVs ever will. There have been almost 1 million Priuses sold around the world already. Each Prius sold means one less emission-spouting diesel or one less gasoline-powered midsize vehicle on the road.

    The Prius still relies at least partially on a gasoline engine, and how often that engine kicks in depends on how the car is driven, so one Prius does NOT mean one less gasoline-powered midsize vehicle on the road.

    Johnson: GM also has to consider that the pickup truck market is very price sensitive.

    These hybrids are not pickups, these are SUVs. GM’s full-size SUVs appeal to a considerably more upscale crowd than the pickups do.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    What is the Tahoe hybrid good for?

    You’d need to ask one of the 218K+ North Americans what on earth possessed them to buy a Yukon or Tahoe this year.

    As for the Toyota’s, the only one that is analogous to the Tahoe is the Sequoia, which at its best gets worse mileage than the non-hybrid Chevy.

  • avatar

    EJ: does the Highlander even tow 5000lbs? I know the Ridgeline claims that number, but I don’t trust the brakes with a full load of cargo, much less 5000lbs in the back. I think Automobile Mag had a good write-up on towing 5000lbs with a Ridgeline to prove my point.

    Not to mention a car-based SUV doesn’t have the frame girth and transmission cooling to tow significant loads for long periods of time. Been there, done that.

    Maybe you can have you cake and eat it too with the Tahoe Hybrid. I don’t believe so, a clean diesel hybrid is better here. But this is a big step in the right direction.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Again, you’re missing the point. The greatest opportunity to reduce fuel consumption is NOT just to look at the thirstiest vehicles and be done with it.

    The biggest opportunity for reducing fuel consumption is looking at the MOST popular vehicles and looking to see if there is a market for hybrid versions.

    …It’s narrow-minded to look at only the thirstiest vehicles. You also need to look at how many units of those thirsty vehicles are being sold. Then you have to look at the market viability of hybrid versions of those vehicles, and how many of THOSE would be sold.

    I never meant to imply that car companies shouldn’t take measures to increase the fuel efficiency of all of their vehicles. But GM’s light trucks are the biggest gas guzzlers and most numerous products in their consumer fleet. Through October, Chevy has sold 126K Tahoe’s. GMC sold additional 93K Yukon and Yukon XLs. The hybrid drive train could be easily adapted to the full-size GM pickup trucks, of which the company has sold 714K Silverado’s and Sierra’s this year.

    So the potential for GM to make significant real world change (per unit savings X volume) is far greater when focusing on their light trucks than on their entry level sedans. Therefore, I think the General is correct in assessing first priority to the trucks.

  • avatar
    Mj0lnir

    Toyota’s lineup makes more sense:

    From whose perspective?

    Need to tow 5,000 pounds? Take a Toyota Highlander.

    The Tahoe Hybrid is rated at 6200 pounds, a half ton more than the Highlander. And it gets better mileage when not towing.

    Did you really just recommend a less capable, thirstier vehicle in a discussion about needs and capabilities?

    Need to tow 10,000 lbs? Take a Toyota Sequoia.

    If you need to tow 10,000 pounds you’re not looking at any hybrid, so why not buy a crew cab diesel truck and get better mileage than a Sequoia while sacrificing two seats?

    Need to commute long distance? Take a Toyota Prius.

    Sure. But then what do I use when I need more than four seats or more cargo room?

    Are you suggesting that I own two vehicles with all the attendant costs?

    Excellent idea- I don’t understand why everybody doesn’t buy two vehicles rather than one.

    Simply want a large SUV? Take a Toyota Highlander hybrid.

    Now this is an argument I can agree with.

    It’s cheaper than the Tahoe, seats as many people, and is rated for higher mileage.

    But, how can you bash the idea of a hybrid SUV and then turn around and recommend one?

    If it’s a good idea in the Highlander, then it’s a good idea in the Tahoe.

    If it’s not a good idea in the Tahoe, then it’s not a good idea in the Highlander.

    What is the Tahoe hybrid good for?

    Same thing every other Tahoe is good for, but with lower fuel costs and less pollution.

    Why is that mystifying?

  • avatar
    EJ

    It seems to me the Tahoe hybrid is going to be purchased by suburban green posers, not by rugged towers.

    The new Highlander hybrid gets 26 MPG (and has 4WD), so that seems a better choice than the Tahoe hybrid (if you don’t need to tow more than 3500 lbs).

    Personally, I tow 3500 lbs with my FWD minivan that gets otherwise 24 MPG on average. Works fine for me. On my last camping trip I drove to 8,000 feet elevation towing my camping trailer, then took the whole rig on a dirt road for 5 miles to a remote lake.
    I was the only minivan out there; everybody else had some sort of SUV.
    Do I need a $50K Tahoe hybrid for that? Don’t think so.

  • avatar
    Unbalanced

    Articles like this wouldn’t be necessary if the US followed the European example and switched its fuel consumption measurement to units of fuel used per distance covered. Going from 16 mpg to 21 doesn’t sound very impressive and provokes a
    common reaction: why would I pay thousands of dollars for a lousy 5 extra mpg?

    But going from 63 gallons/1000 miles to 48 starts to make some sense. At the $3.55 I paid this morning at Chevron in San Francisco for a gallon of regular unleaded, that’s a savings of $53 bucks every thousand miles. Or $530 every ten thousand. Or $800 a year.

    Since we’re buying gasoline, not miles, we ought to measure consumption accordingly.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    The two mode hybrid is the cheapest way GM knows to make a buck off the hybrid craze, and that’s it. Rather than build hybrid vehicles they are quite litterally grafting an electric motor and batteries onto existing drive trains, I would not be surprised if ever single car they make gets this quick and dirty treatment. Given their money whoas, perhaps that’s all we should expect from them. The fact remains however, that if marketing wasn’t driving these “innovations”, greenie car of the year would be the all new turbo diesel Tahoe, capable of running on bio-fuel and pulling a small battleship while getting 30mpg.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “I would not be surprised if ever single car they make gets this quick and dirty treatment”

    Well then you better slam Toyota, Honda, and Ford who also graft on hybrid technology. Toyota/Lexus has five hybrid versions of standard platforms and only one hybrid only vehicle. Honda killed their hybrid only Insight and has narrow it’s US offering down to the Civic hybrid. Ford’s hybrids are all on existing platforms.

    There is exactly one hybrid only vehicle on the market (Prius) and it does not serve every market segment.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The system that allows soccer mom’s to choose a Tahoe, and someone else to choose an old Jag is the only system known to man that can efficiently produce the ability to use even the lightest most efficient vehicle ever designed. Without capitalism and free markets all the peak oil theories and CO2 doomology would be science fiction. You can’t have what you want, limit what choices other people get to choose from, and expect abundance of resources and products.

    Here is your choice: Risk death by Tahoe, or let your Jag rot in the garage because your children will not be able to use it. They will likely not have the gas, and certainly will not be able to get the parts.

    There is no differentiation between need and want in a free market, capitalist system. GET OVER IT.

    Where is the justice in keeping some people from buying SUV’s if the result is that no one can get enough fuel to power their civic? That’s what happens in a state run economy, and that is what so many of you keep pining for. Ban caviar, and before long loaf’s of bread will be scarce.

    A problem will not be solved if the guy who has the ability to solve it is deterred from doing so because he is sure that the powers at be will either stop him or steal his rewards.

    And, not to pick on the old jag guy too much, they are beautiful and appreciate you keeping it going, but force is now, and has always been, equal to mass times velocity squared. If you really want to talk safety, do you really think you should throw stones from your glass porch? How about we govern all the cars to 35mph or even less?

    Nope, if you have a “performance car” your safety concerns all need to come with a big red H for hypocrisy on the label. And don’t start with the better handling and brakes, et al. I actually agree with you on that, but it doesn’t work well when you are complaining about other people’s choices. I have seen a picture of a motorcycle that went through an SUV killing the occupants. Mass is nothing compared to velocity.

    I doubt anyone here REALLY owns no more car than they REALLY NEED. Once you cross that line, it makes little sense to draw it where YOU think it ought to go.

    If you disagree with me, don’t post, go find someone who has owned a Trabant and get an education.

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    geeber: the new Stang IS a green car compared to the old one, especially since the new car’s exhaust emissions are negligable compared to the 1969 model.

    Geeber, this is where we differ. There is no such thing as a “green” car.

    Not even a Prius is a “green” car. By its very nature, no car can be green. A car is a heavy, complex manufactured good that generates pollution from cradle to grave. Although some cars are less wasteful and destructive than others, all of them are destructive and damaging to the environment in some way, shape or form.

    The idea of a “green” car is as mythological as the unicorn. They are a construct of PR staffs and advertising agencies, a figment of the imagination. A green consumer is an oxymoron.

    Ultimately, your choices are a series of trade offs between what you want and what you are willing to damage in order to get it. If you want to be environmentally conscious in respect to your driving, the solution is obvious: drive as small of a vehicle as possible, as rarely as possible, manufactured and recycled in as efficient of a manner as possible. But even that choice will create a negative environmental impact, it just will be a smaller negative impact than what it would have been had you done the same with a larger, heavier, less efficient vehicle.

  • avatar
    EJ

    More about the tow rating of the Chevy Tahoe hybrid.

    It’s listed on the Chevy website as 6200 lbs.
    BUT notice the fineprint: “Maximum trailer weight ratings are calculated assuming a base vehicle, except for any option(s) necessary to achieve the rating, plus driver. The weight of other optional equipment, passengers and cargo will reduce the maximum trailer weight your vehicle can tow.”

    This means that if you carry 8 passengers weighing 1000 lbs plus 500 pounds of luxury options and cargo, your real towing capacity goes down to 6200 – 1500 = 4700 lbs.

    On the other hand, Toyotas generally don’t have the same onerous fineprint. The new Toyota Highlander is specified at 5000 lbs of towing PLUS passengers/cargo of 1688 lbs for a total of 6688 lbs, which is MORE than the Chevy Tahoe hybrid.

    The truth about GM towing seems to be a vastly exaggerated towing spec.

    (Disclaimer: I haven’t actually tried for myself to tow with these SUVs; maybe an idea for TTAC to try?)

  • avatar
    geeber

    Adrian,

    If that’s the standard, then merely living is not green. Unless we live in caves, hunt animals, forage for in-season fruits and vegetables, run around nearly naked and die before 30.

    If an American who died in 1960 came back to life today, he or she would be shocked at how clean the air is, and how much progress we’ve made in cleaning up lakes, streams and rivers.

    Environmentalists need to remember the old saying: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Well then you better slam Toyota, Honda, and Ford who also graft on hybrid technology. Toyota/Lexus has five hybrid versions of standard platforms and only one hybrid only vehicle. Honda killed their hybrid only Insight and has narrow it’s US offering down to the Civic hybrid. Ford’s hybrids are all on existing platforms.

    There is exactly one hybrid only vehicle on the market (Prius) and it does not serve every market segment.

    In fact, the Civic is a purpose built Hybrid. Yes it uses the same body but that’s about it. It has a tiny engine that would be essentially useless on it’s own. The Insight, well that was just plain ugly, but it did prove one thing to many consumers that did buy it, hybrids are not always the zero maintenace low cost of ownership darlings the media would have us believe. The Accord of course, is a marketing exercise. As are the Lexi variants. The Escape hybrid is a better system than GMs but not by much. There is no harm in resuing parts, but when you litterally take an existing car, give it an electric motor helper and call it a Hybrid, well that’s just praying on the gullible consumer. I predict that buyers will see barely any real world milage improvement on the Tahoe that can’t be explained by cylinder deactivation and a no-idle ignition. Two things that could be done without the batteries. GM Mechanics everywhere right now are cursing because they have to go to yet another school to learn how to work on yet another system that could kill them and will be obsolete almost imediatly.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    geeber:
    The Prius still relies at least partially on a gasoline engine, and how often that engine kicks in depends on how the car is driven, so one Prius does NOT mean one less gasoline-powered midsize vehicle on the road.

    But that’s not the point. Point is compared to your *average* midsize vehicle, the Prius emits FAR less emissions and achieves far better fuel economy.

    geeber:
    These hybrids are not pickups, these are SUVs. GM’s full-size SUVs appeal to a considerably more upscale crowd than the pickups do.

    This point I made was regarding GM’s upcoming hybrid pickups. In case you didn’t know, GM’s Two Mode hybrid system will soon appear in it’s full size pickups. On top of that, GM will debut a diesel engine in it’s full size pickups. GM confused and desperate? You betcha. How many people will be willing to pay upwards of 40K for a pickup truck, hybrid or not? It gets even worse when a diesel engine is offered as an option. Talk about sales cannibalization.

    You do make a good point though; GM’s hybrid full size SUVs DO appeal to an upscale crowd, if for no other reason than price. That right there will limit their impact and sales.

    William C Montgomery:
    You’d need to ask one of the 218K+ North Americans what on earth possessed them to buy a Yukon or Tahoe this year.

    As for the Toyota’s, the only one that is analogous to the Tahoe is the Sequoia, which at its best gets worse mileage than the non-hybrid Chevy.

    That’s completely irrelevant. The question asked was regarding the Tahoe hybrid not the regular Tahoe and regular Yukon.

    I ask again: in YOUR opinion how many hybrid SUVs will GM sell per month considering their high price? I say not that much.

    Sajeev Mehta:
    does the Highlander even tow 5000lbs? I know the Ridgeline claims that number, but I don’t trust the brakes with a full load of cargo, much less 5000lbs in the back. I think Automobile Mag had a good write-up on towing 5000lbs with a Ridgeline to prove my point.

    Not to mention a car-based SUV doesn’t have the frame girth and transmission cooling to tow significant loads for long periods of time. Been there, done that.

    Honda brakes have never been that good.

    As to answer your question, yes the Highlander V6 can tow up to 5000 lbs if you add the optional towing prep package. That package gives you a heavy duty radiator with engine oil cooler, 200-watt fan coupling, transmission oil cooler with water cooler, 150-amp alternator and prewired harness.

    Mj0lnir:
    The Tahoe Hybrid is rated at 6200 pounds, a half ton more than the Highlander. And it gets better mileage when not towing.

    Did you really just recommend a less capable, thirstier vehicle in a discussion about needs and capabilities?

    Does it now? The Highlander gets 18/24 EPA 2WD and 17/23 4WD. That’s basically the same combined mileage as the Tahoe hybrid. Did I mention the base model Tahoe Hybrid is 20K more expensive than a base model Highlander?

    Mj0lnir:
    But, how can you bash the idea of a hybrid SUV and then turn around and recommend one?

    If it’s a good idea in the Highlander, then it’s a good idea in the Tahoe.

    If it’s not a good idea in the Tahoe, then it’s not a good idea in the Highlander.

    We’re criticizing the idea of GM’s full size hybrid SUVs. We’re criticizing SUVs that start at around 50K, and have less payload and towing than their non-hybrid counterparts. The whole point of a full size SUV is to haul lots of people or to haul/tow a lot of stuff. Unfortunately you can’t do that with GM’s hybrid SUVs. The towing and hauling abilities are compromised by the hybrid system.

    Mj0lnir:
    Same thing every other Tahoe is good for, but with lower fuel costs and less pollution.

    Why is that mystifying

    Again, that’s incorrect. As I said, the towing and hauling abilities are compromised in the Tahoe hybrid.

    Besides, if you do end up hauling 8 people and some gear in the Tahoe Hybrid, or towing 6000 lbs you’re not going to get 20 mpg plain and simple.

    So the Tahoe Hybrid does not excel in any one thing, but it’s mediocre in many ways.

    Adrian Imonti:
    The idea of a “green” car is as mythological as the unicorn. They are a construct of PR staffs and advertising agencies, a figment of the imagination. A green consumer is an oxymoron.

    You’re thinking only in absolutes. Some cars are more “green” that others. There ARE “green” cars out there; it all depends on how you define “green”. You’re defining “green” in a very narrow and absolute sense.

    EJ, you make a good point about the fine-print regarding the Tahoe hybrid’s towing. It was sort of the same point I was getting at. If you haul several people in a Tahoe Hybrid, you’re going to be able to tow even *less* than 6200lbs and you’re going to get less than the EPA fuel economy numbers while you’re at it.

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    geeber : If that’s the standard, then merely living is not green. Unless we live in caves, hunt animals, forage for in-season fruits and vegetables, run around nearly naked and die before 30.

    Geeber, now you’re taking the point to extremes. There are plenty of reasons to drive cars, both pragmatic and otherwise. However, unless you’re carting around plants to replant a forest on Earth Day, chances are very high that saving the planet is not one of those reasons.

    It’s a matter of being honest about what this is about. Driving is, by its nature, a polluting activity. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t drive, or that you must live in the forest to live in the trees at one amongst the animals. What it does mean that you should be honest about why you drive, and that you shouldn’t kid yourself into believing that driving creates a benefit for the ecology, when it clearly doesn’t.

    It’s safe to say that almost all of us who are on this website like to drive, I know that I certainly do. I never called for banning cars — hell, I review them! — and I don’t see anyone outside of a few extremists advocating that cars should be banned. However, the reasons that we drive have nothing to do with the good of the environment. I think that we’d better off if we just dropped the pretense and accepted it for what it is. To address these issues honestly, we need to start by being honest, instead of confusing our personal wants with social good.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    ALL these gasoline hybrids are stop gaps at best. Until someone puts out, at the very least, a hybrid like the prius that uses bio-fuel to power it’s little battery charger, none of them are really trying. Idealy, one that runs on hydrogen or LPG in the near future would be great, in order to help the hydrogen delivery infrastructure to get established. Hydrogen as a fuel for internal combustion engines isn’t great, but in a car where the engive is merely there to charge the battery it’s ideal. Honda has already made generators that run on LPG, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they could be fitted to run on either Hydrogen or LPG depending on availability. Gasoline hybrids do not reduce our independance on foreign oil. Wether you need a gallon or a thimb full, if your car won’t move 5 feet without it you are still completely dependant on gasoline.

    Now before you say anything, I know that these cars would be limited sellers, but not as limited as Honda’s new FCX Clarity, so it is possible for a (profitable) automaker to blaze new ground today, not 20 years form now. I can only hope that when gas surpasses $5 a gallon these types of cars will become cost effective to produce.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Adrian,

    What Geeber did effectively point out is one of the dirty truths about the greens – There is no standard.

    There isn’t one, because the scientific consensus they claim is actually a social consensus among a lot of so called educated people. Any time they put an actual number on paper it is debunked.

    No useful standard can be emplaced because most of the movement’s followers are not signed on to the actual cause. They are either in it to feel good about themselves, take power from the man, redistribute wealth, or take away choices that others make which offend.

    The anti-suv crowd is the worst and least logical of all. They are just playground hangers on. Even if they actually don’t like SUV’s it rarely has any useful context. They are “afraid” of them because they are too big – as though a motorcycle couldn’t kill them just as well. They don’t like them blocking their view – as though there was some standard of vehicle size that we should all follow so that they could more safely tailgate.

    None of the objections stands to any scrutiny. The only one that plays at all is the “waste fuel” tirade. Still, there is no ration of gas. It’s a free market. This song plays well because people have a natural propensity to fall for the fallacy of scarcity even when they are educated on economic theory.

    Geeber makes a good point. Reductio ad absurdum, or reduction to the absurd, would seem to be a perfectly useful tactic when dealing with absurdity.

  • avatar
    EJ

    Landcrusher,
    I don’t think anybody on this website is against capitalism or freedom of choice (although the “externalities”, the evil side effects of vehicles, deserve regulation).

    It’s all about efficiency. The Chevy Tahoe Hybrid doesn’t offer an advancement in efficiency, because you might as well get a unibody SUV, a minivan or a diesel.
    If the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid were at 30 MPG, I’d be applauding. But it isn’t, so I’m not.

    Now the hybrid ball is back in Toyota’s court: what is their next move going to be?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    EJ,

    While no one would likely admit to being anti-capitalist or against choice, they do. They just live with the dissonance.

    While it is fair for one to say that the Tahoe is lame because making a hybrid for the sake of it is stupid if the efficiency gains could be had more easily than going hybrid, that is not what many of the posts here are about.

    It’s not all about efficiency. I think you should read over all the posts again. There are all sorts of agendas here. Perhaps if you look outside this thread at what several of these people have said on similar threads you will more easily see through the smoke.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Johnson: But that’s not the point. Point is compared to your *average* midsize vehicle, the Prius emits FAR less emissions and achieves far better fuel economy.

    Yes it is the point, because you specifically said (and here are your exact words): “Each Prius sold means one less emission-spouting diesel or one less gasoline-powered midsize vehicle on the road.” (emphasis added)

    The Prius still has a gasoline-powered engine. Each Prius sold may represent LESS gasoline used, but it does not represent one less-gasoline powered vehicle on the road.

    Johnson: This point I made was regarding GM’s upcoming hybrid pickups. In case you didn’t know, GM’s Two Mode hybrid system will soon appear in it’s full size pickups.

    This article is specifically about GM’s full-size SUVs and virtually of the comments have focused on the full-size SUVs. The pickups are irrelevant to this discussoin.

    Johnson: On top of that, GM will debut a diesel engine in it’s full size pickups. GM confused and desperate? You betcha.

    Honda is offering a fuel-cell Clarity for lease, has the Civic Hybrid, plans to offer a new hybrid-only vehicle (just like the Prius) and plans to introduce a clean diesel in the 2009 Accord. Is Honda confused, too?

    GM is covering its bets. We don’t know what will necessarily be the best approach to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

    For once, given the muddled mess that is GM, I give the company credit for offering a variety of alternatives to be ready for market shifts.

    Johnson: You do make a good point though; GM’s hybrid full size SUVs DO appeal to an upscale crowd, if for no other reason than price. That right there will limit their impact and sales.

    Which, judging by the people I see driving the Prius (not to mention the neighborhoods where those Priuses are parked), means that there will be a pretty healthy, upscale market for these vehicles, too.

    Adrian Imonti: However, unless you’re carting around plants to replant a forest on Earth Day, chances are very high that saving the planet is not one of those reasons.

    And exactly how many activities we do engage in on a daily basis are geared to saving the earth? I can think of one in my case – we do recycle our garbage. Otherwise, we’re mostly concerned about working, living, playing and loving. Generally, driving helps with all four…

    Adrian Imonti: Driving is, by its nature, a polluting activity.

    And, as I pointed out, living, by its very nature, is a polluting activity. Unless we live like cavemen.

    The simple fact is that we’ve made remarkable progress in cleaning up what comes out of the tailpipe.

    As someone who works in the Pennsylvania Capitol, I see firsthand the need for pressure groups to keep “problems” boiling along to maintain visibility (and, of course, keep those donation dollars rolling in).

  • avatar
    Johnson

    geeber:
    Yes it is the point, because you specifically said (and here are your exact words): “Each Prius sold means one less emission-spouting diesel or one less gasoline-powered midsize vehicle on the road.” (emphasis added)

    The Prius still has a gasoline-powered engine. Each Prius sold may represent LESS gasoline used, but it does not represent one less-gasoline powered vehicle on the road.

    Come now, no need to twist my words. I meant that there would be less gasoline-ONLY powered vehicles on the road. I’m pretty sure you knew what I meant. The Prius is clearly a hybrid with propulsion being provided by *both* an electric drive system and a gasoline engine. Fact is a midsize diesel-ONLY powered car or a conventional midsize gas-ONLY powered car cannot compete in terms of emissions or fuel economy with a car like the Prius, apples to apples.

    geeber:
    Honda is offering a fuel-cell Clarity for lease, has the Civic Hybrid, plans to offer a new hybrid-only vehicle (just like the Prius) and plans to introduce a clean diesel in the 2009 Accord. Is Honda confused, too?

    GM is covering its bets. We don’t know what will necessarily be the best approach to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

    For once, given the muddled mess that is GM, I give the company credit for offering a variety of alternatives to be ready for market shifts.

    GM is/will be offering not one, but several hybrid systems (mild hybrid BAS system, Two-Mode, E-Flex), ethanol-powered vehicles, diesel engines, and fuel cells ALL in the same market (North America).

    It’s one thing to be covering your bets. It’s something else to be completely lost and using a shotgun approach to meet future challenges. GM is spending time, money, and manpower on ANY and ALL alternative (to gasoline) forms of propulsion. GM does NOT have a clear goal or direction in mind. Perfect example of how lost they are is their hybrid systems which now total THREE different systems that are fundamentally the same. Honda has ONE hybrid system. Toyota also has ONE hybrid system.

    Honda has a clear goal; they believe a hybrid system is good for smaller cars, while midsize and large vehicles are better suited for a diesel engine. Honda’s initiatives don’t overlap one another either. The Civic hybrid does not compete with any other Honda model. There is no diesel Civic, nor will there be for the time being. The Accord will not have a hybrid option; it will have only a diesel option.

    Toyota also has a clear goal; they believe a hybrid system should be offered on all vehicles. Toyota has partnered with Isuzu to develop class-leading small diesel engines but those are destined for Europe as it stands.

    And what of GM? They are desperately jumping on every band-wagon they can find. Does GM believe in offering a hybrid system on every vehicle? Can’t say for sure. What we do know is GM now has 3 hybrid systems, yet we don’t how much of their lineup will get a hybrid option. What we also know is that some vehicles will get more than one hybrid option. For example, the (mild hybrid) Vue Green Line will soon be accompanied with a Two-Mode hybrid Vue. How about diesel engines? Will those be for trucks only? GM hasn’t said. I will also point out that GM will offer a hybrid option AND a diesel option on the SAME models (full size pickups). No such overlaps will exist in Toyota or Honda’s lineups. Now how about E85? Where does that fit in with the diesels and the multiple hybrid systems? What’s stopping GM from choosing and sticking with ONE hybrid system?

    geeber:
    Which, judging by the people I see driving the Prius (not to mention the neighborhoods where those Priuses are parked), means that there will be a pretty healthy, upscale market for these vehicles, too.

    Flawed observation. Fact remains that the GM full-size hybrids will cost twice as much as a Prius.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Sorry to nit-pick here but 100% of the Prius’s propulsion comes from gasoline. The fact that it stores some of it’s gasoline derived energy for later use in a battery (likely at a significant loss) doesn’t change that fact. This is why in my eyes they are completely pointless except for the sole purpose of moving the polution outside of the cities. I agree about GM though :)

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Unless you are towing something huge or going off road, there’s no practical reason to get a SUV over a minivan. An Odyssey or Sedona or Sienna or Caravan (since Ford no longer makes minivans and GM only makes the horrible Uplander, they don’t count) is great for shelping large numbers of people around, plus costs ten or twenty grand (or more) less than one of GM’s hybrid GMT-900’s-and gets about the same mileage to boot (or much better mileage, if one buys a non-hybrid).

    Obviously, some of these tow a boat a couple weekends a year. But even then, it would make more sense to merely rent a big SUV for those occassions-you would still save money.

    No, people buy SUVs because they don’t want to admit they have kids and need a minivan.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    tankd0g-The Prius pollutes less and uses less gasoline than a regular car.  Period (there’s no “moving the pollution outside of the cities”-there’s just less pollution-period).  The increased gas mileage (and less pollution) in a hybrid motor comes from two places:

    1. Turning the engine off while stopped or coasting.2. Taking energy normally lost during braking or coasting and rerouting it to the electric engine.

    These two places are why replacing a standard gasoline engine with a hybrid engine, but making no other changes to the vehicle, increases mileage. Of course, the Prius also uses other tricks, such as an extremely aerodynamic design, to increase mileage as well.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Geotpf,

    First off, everything you said about minivans vs. SUV’s is false except that SOME people do buy SUV’s rather than minivans because of image issues. And, let me state immediately that they have a right to do that. The minivan itself is a product of the free market. Places that limit the choices of people end up with stuff like the Trabant, and Gulags.

    I am tired of being insulted by people like you who want to through out generalizations about SUV owners in some attempt to make themselves seem smart. I never had kids, and I rarely tow anything, and I would never buy a minivan because they don’t meet my needs, wants, or represent a value to me.

    The biggest cost of ownership is depreciation and the loss you incur when buying and selling. My Land Cruiser holds it value much better than any minivan, and ten years and 120,000 plus miles from the lot is still tight and like new (as it was at 5 years and 76k when I bought it). It has taken me through mud, snow, and water that would have left me stranded by the minivan that would then have needed repair. It also has an interior that has held up, unlike any minivan I have seen that lived that long. My total cost of ownership is less than a minivan.

    Not all SUV’s are like mine, but people are often buying them because they think they will last like a well built body on frame SUV. That is part of the “image” of SUV’s vs. Minivans. If you don’t like it complain about the manufacturers, not the buyers.

    BTW, how do you know how often people utilize their SUV’s for towing, or other things a minivan would not be good for? Did you even do the math to figure out how many times you would have to rent a truck a year to offset the cost of lower gas mileage before you typed that in? I would lose even more money with a minivan by renting a truck even ONCE. Sorry, but the fuel savings is only about $500 a year. If I rent a truck for two days, include the value of my time to do all this stuff, the cost to get to the rental place, etc. I will eat more than that. Even someone making $20 per hour would likely be a loser at 2 rentals. Thats IF they can find an SUV or Full size van for rent with a tow hitch at all. Likely, the only rental allowing a tow is a beat up, stripped down pick up truck. Just what everyone wants on their vacation!

    I am really tired of some of these tired and ignorant myths getting rehashed. If you think the common wisdom may be correct, but haven’t really figured it out, then you should maybe ask about it rather than stating it as fact.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    tankd0g:
    Sorry to nit-pick here but 100% of the Prius’s propulsion comes from gasoline. The fact that it stores some of it’s gasoline derived energy for later use in a battery (likely at a significant loss) doesn’t change that fact.

    Wrong. Some of the propulsion energy the Prius uses is derived from the regenerative braking. I would encourage you to fully research and understand Toyota’s Synergy Drive.

    The Prius CAN propel itself on electric-power ONLY (for a limited time under a limited speed).

    If we assume a Prius with 0 km on the odometer is started up, the gas engine should not turn on. At idle, only the electric hybrid system should be on. Theoretically, if you move at 2-5 mph and then brake, the gas engine the whole time should be turned off and you’d recover some energy from the braking. This would be an example of a Prius propelling itself without a gas engine.

    On all of Toyota’s new hybrid models, there is an “EV Mode” button which forces the hybrid system to run on electric power only. It works only at limited speeds, but it shows that Toyota’s hybrids can proper themselves without the gas engine.

  • avatar
    davey49

    FJ-You wouldn’t want to tow over 3000lbs with a Highlander. If you think you would than you’ve never towed before.
    I wonder if GM will put the Hybrid system in the trucks and Suburban. Make the tow rating 10K# or higher.
    yankinwaoz- not only do parents drive their kids around everywhere now but I drive buy a few whose kids sit in the car while they wait for the bus to come. They usually only live about 100 yards from the bus stop.
    My sister drives her kids everywhere. (Toyota Sienna)

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Johnson, I suggest you do some research, in the basic laws of physics. There is no free lunch, regenerative braking, witch is a TINY, nearly insignificant contribution to charing the Prius’s battery, does not work while the car is sitting in your driveway with the motor off. It is re captured energy from the GASOLINE MOTOR. Until the Prius comes with a solar panel on the roof, 100% of it’s forward motion is derived form GASOLINE. It does not polute less than other 40mpg cars. It does however move the polution out of the cities, assuming one drives it in such a way that it runs on battery power in town and gas on the highway while charing the battery. Impossible to do 100% of the time of course with the Prius’s puny battery.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Geotpf :

    40 mpg is 40 mpg. You have been duped by marketing.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I think a lot of you haven’t seen just how mamoth the new Highlander is. I honestly don’t know why Toyota needs 4 SUVs all about the same size. Seqouia, Land Cruiser, 4 Runner and now Highlander. They could all pull your house down.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Hmm, now if you pushed the Prius up a hill with your own body, then you got in and let it roll down the hill, then you could say the energy from stopping was not from gasoline.

    Only you really couldn’t. The energy used to get you the food you ate to create the calories needed to push the Prius up the hill in the first place invariably came from gasoline.

    But that’s not the point is it?

    The truth is that a Prius is really a luxury. Everyone knows it is too big, and doesn’t get enough mileage! It’s decadent. All anyone really NEEDS is a 25 hp car with four seats. Now, Comrades, all we need to do is make the Trabant a little more efficient…

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    I’d be happy with a VW Polo…you know, if the gov’t would let us import them here. Cheaper than a Prius, better milage than a Prius and can run on biofuel if you want to get anal about it.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Johnson, I suggest you do some research, in the basic laws of physics. There is no free lunch, regenerative braking, witch is a TINY, nearly insignificant contribution to charing the Prius’s battery, does not work while the car is sitting in your driveway with the motor off. It is re captured energy from the GASOLINE MOTOR. Until the Prius comes with a solar panel on the roof, 100% of it’s forward motion is derived form GASOLINE. It does not polute less than other 40mpg cars. It does however move the polution out of the cities, assuming one drives it in such a way that it runs on battery power in town and gas on the highway while charing the battery. Impossible to do 100% of the time of course with the Prius’s puny battery.

    You did not read what I previously posted, did you? I clearly stated that you can re-capture energy using regenerative braking with the car being powered by the electric motors ONLY. Have you actually driven a Prius? I have, and I can tell you under very light throttle and low speeds the car runs on electric power ONLY. This was driving my friend’s Prius. My friend has also told me that he’s done that; started up the car, and then driven down the street completely 100% on electric power.

    Why are you comparing “other” 40 mpg cars? Most other 40 mpg cars are NOT in the same class as the Prius. Apples to apples, the Prius DOES pollute less than other midsize cars. PERIOD.

    Don’t believe me, check the EPA pollution figures on the Prius and other cars: the ONLY other two cars in the same class that come close to the Prius are the Camry Hybrid and Altima Hybrid which ironically enough BOTH use Toyota’s Synergy Drive.

    Go here: http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Index.do
    Look up vehicle by type (in any State you want) and choose midsize cars. Then when you get the search results sort the vehicles according to both the air pollution score and greenhouse gas score.

    The Prius achieves BEST-IN-CLASS air pollution and greenhouse gas scores. You can also do the same search for small cars if you wish, even though the Prius is classified as a midsize car. With small cars, there is only one vehicle (Honda Civic Hybrid) which ties the Prius in both air pollution and greenhouse gas scores. Problem is, the Civic Hybrid is smaller and not in the same class as the Prius. The Civic Hybrid also gets inferior fuel economy to the Prius.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    You clearly did not do the aformentioned research. Just where do you think the electricity in that battery came from in your hypothetical situation? Unless you’ve converted the Prius to a plugin, it came from gasoline. If the car gets an average of 40 mpg or even 50 mpg, then it pollutes exactly the same amount as a non-hybrid car that also gets the same milage. And they do exist, and they are better cars than this supository on wheels, many don’t burn gasoline and none of them have a quarter tonne of toxic battery pack to haul around. The Prius is the only car in it’s class. That class being grossly overpriced econo-boxes that don’t handle well and can only be serviced by the dealer. Pretty easy to lead that class when you created it. Have you ever even driven a Prius? To call it a mid sized car is laughable. An Echo hatchback feels more roomy inside and drives ten times better. If you compare it to a Camry or Corrola like you supposedly are….well you can’t compare it to a Camry or Corrola, it falls on it’s face.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Have you actually driven a Prius? I have, and I can tell you under very light throttle and low speeds the car runs on electric power ONLY.

    You missed his point. The battery is ultimately charged up mostly by the gas motor.

    A hybrid is ultimately a gasoline-powered car that uses batteries in order to let the gas engine do less work. Yes, regenerative braking also plays a role in recharging the batteries, but that’s a minor role compared to the role of the gas engine in recharging the battery.

    Here’s one way to look at it. Remove the batteries and electric motor, and you could drive a Prius with its gas engine alone. Remove the gas engine, and that car isn’t going anywhere.

    That’s just reality. You can still like hybrids while still understanding that this is true.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    The fact is, gasoline hybrid cars are a developmental dead end, when the oil runs out these cars will be just as obsolete as a Hemi powered Dodge Ram. I own two cars that get 25mpg, they are both primarily for fun, together they cost me about 10 grand less than a Prius. But I bought a house within walking distance of work. I bet I burn less gas per year than just about any Prius driver. And I don’t really give a damn about my carbon footprint, I care about my wallet and how full it is, as do most people.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    tankd0g, it’s quite obvious you have a bias against the Prius and that bias is preventing you from seeing the Prius for what it is objectively. You also seem unable to give the Prius credit where it deserves. No amount of facts, including EPA data, will change your view it appears.

    Yes, the batteries are charged up by the gas engine. But it’s also true the Prius emits VERY little greenhouse gases and other pollutants, a fact you refuse to acknowledge even though the EPA data is concrete in this case.

    Comparing the Prius to an Echo simply shows how obvious your bias is and it also shows that you haven’t driven the Prius, or if you have it just shows your bias.

    Pch101:
    You missed his point. The battery is ultimately charged up mostly by the gas motor.

    A hybrid is ultimately a gasoline-powered car that uses batteries in order to let the gas engine do less work. Yes, regenerative braking also plays a role in recharging the batteries, but that’s a minor role compared to the role of the gas engine in recharging the battery.

    Here’s one way to look at it. Remove the batteries and electric motor, and you could drive a Prius with its gas engine alone. Remove the gas engine, and that car isn’t going anywhere.

    That’s just reality. You can still like hybrids while still understanding that this is true.

    Obviously the batteries are charged up the gasoline engine, but to say regenerative braking doesn’t help is foolish. He missed my point entirely about the emissions of the Prius and of the ability of the Prius to travel with the gas engine turned off for periods of time.

    tankd0g:
    The fact is, gasoline hybrid cars are a developmental dead end, when the oil runs out these cars will be just as obsolete as a Hemi powered Dodge Ram. I own two cars that get 25mpg, they are both primarily for fun, together they cost me about 10 grand less than a Prius. But I bought a house within walking distance of work. I bet I burn less gas per year than just about any Prius driver. And I don’t really give a damn about my carbon footprint, I care about my wallet and how full it is, as do most people.

    Wrong yet *again*. Hybrid systems can be paired with anything from fuel cells to diesel engines. Once the oil runs out, you replace the gasoline engine with something else.

    It’s quite hypocritical of you and certainly does not help your credibility to be bashing the environmental performance of the Prius while admitting you don’t care about your carbon footprint.

    Just out of curiosity, what are those two cars that cost you 10 grand less than a Prius? And please don’t say they’re both used cars which you’re comparing to the price of a new Prius because that would be laughable.

    tankd0g and Pch101, do you think Toyota is just idly sitting around and not doing anything? Since the Gen 2 Prius came out (which was 5 years ago) Toyota has been working on the Gen 3 Prius. Yes, with the current gen Prius if you remove the gas engine it won’t be going anywhere. But if the next-gen Prius has plug-in capability, that will no longer be true. I wonder what will the criticism of the Prius be then?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    tankd0g, it’s quite obvious you have a bias against the Prius and that bias is preventing you from seeing the Prius for what it is objectively. You also seem unable to give the Prius credit where it deserves. No amount of facts, including EPA data, will change your view it appears.

    You bet I’m biased, ever since I drove one as a loaner for a week I’ve been convinced it’s a worthless contribution to the marketplace. Are oyu seriously under the impression that when a Prius burns a gallon of gas is somehow emits less polutants than other cars? Al Gore and bong water brigade must have their meetings in your rec room.

    Obviously the batteries are charged up the gasoline engine, but to say regenerative braking doesn’t help is foolish. He missed my point entirely about the emissions of the Prius and of the ability of the Prius to travel with the gas engine turned off for periods of time.

    I think we’re all tired of trying to explain the law of conservation of energy to you so read it for yourself.

    http://library.thinkquest.org/2745/data/lawce1.htm

    If Toyota issued you a rare experimental pepetual motion machine, well I stand corrected.

    P.S. The last part of your post was so ass backwards I wouldn’t know where to begin.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Obviously the batteries are charged up the gasoline engine, but to say regenerative braking doesn’t help is foolish.

    That’s great, because that isn’t what I said. What I said was that the batteries are recharged primarily due to the gas engine. According to the EPA, 20% of the battery’s recharging is attributable to regenerative braking, which of course means that the other 80% is coming from the gas motor.

    Unlike Tankdog, I have no problem with that. However, I thought that his point about gasoline being the ultimate power source of the Prius was fairly obvious. That doesn’t make the Prius a bad car, but let’s all understand how it actually works.

    do you think Toyota is just idly sitting around and not doing anything?

    No, I don’t. Did you see anything in my comments that suggested that I did?

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    Ok I see the problem now. Let me explan further. Unless you bought your Prius at the top of a very long hill that you have never had to climb back up since, even that (claimed) 20% is only recovered energy from the momentum imparted by the gasoline engine.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    tankd0g:
    You bet I’m biased, ever since I drove one as a loaner for a week I’ve been convinced it’s a worthless contribution to the marketplace.

    That right there ends this conversation.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    No what ended the conversation was you saying it’s laughable for a person to have two fun to drive useful automobiles that he can work himself for $10,000 less than one Prius. You’re right, I am laughing.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    You still never answered my question: exactly what ARE those 2 automobiles? Since you continue to boast about them, then it should be no problem for you to tell people what they are.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This is an interesting debate. Let me throw in a few bones to the carnivores amongst us.

    Tankdog brings up a very good point. The frequency and actual use of your vehicle will be the greatest determinant of it’s pollution and expense. A fellow who drives an MX-5 less than a hundred miles a week will be doing far less damage to their wallet, or the environment, than the ‘holier than thou’ fellow who slogs through several hundreds of miles of traffic in their Prius. This is a huge point because the underlying cause of pollution… is consumption. And vice-versa.

    Those who remark about the wonders of hybrid technologies also have valid points. The fellow who decides to use a Prius for their commute will actually be doing fairly well for quite a while. There are over a trillion barrels left in the ground (Iraq and Saudi Arabia have over a half trillion barrels alone) and this may enable alternative non-petroleum / non-energy intensive technologies to take hold. With that in mind, we should consider Toyota’s leading role in making hybrids popular and common in North America.

    I think Toyota should be given a lot of credit for the popularity of hybrids overall. They lost several billions in development and production costs over the first several years, and yet, they were still willing to sell the vehicles at a price point where profit could not be reached. At least not in the U.S. Profitability for Toyota did not come until the third generation came to these shoress. The quality level and dedication they made towards hybrid technologies has truly changed the automotive landscape, and I especially like the fact that they have provided one of the most thorough warranties for their hybrid systems when doubts began to surface. Whether we hate the Prius or not, Toyota obviouslt has a technology that can improve fuel economy and make all of us less dependent on oil. They are the only manufacturer to do this in an ‘enduring’ manner over the years.

    I think GM’s hybrid technology, via their Allison’s subsidiary, will have a similar impact on the truck market. At this point you can go up to thirty miles an hour without activating the gas engine, and this may prove a big boon for construction companies that rarely have a need to go above 30 mph. The necessity to make fuel economy more appealing to truck and SUV buyers may indeed become GM’s greatest contribution to all this. I’m not that optomistic about the Volt and plug-in technologies in general. But that’s a subject for another rant.

    Cleaner and more fuel efficient diesels will continue to play a role thanks in large part to companies like Honda, Peugeot, VW, Daimler, Nissan/Renault, Ford and Cummins. You also have companies like BMW working on their own hybrid technology which will have a greater impact on highway driving.

    Finally, I would also add the importance of the Korean automakers, who may not be heavily active at this point. But they are definitely lowering the ‘consumption side’ by pressuring the other automakers to build cars that will last close to the 300k mark. In a world where some automakers could easily kick back a bit to save dollars and sense on the longevity front, Hyundai in particular is focusing on making vehicles endure to an even greater degree than right now. That’s extremely important on the consumption and pollution side since most cars waste nearly one third of their total energy before the key is ever turned.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Johson:Come now, no need to twist my words.

    I’m not twisting your words, I’m quoting you verbatim.

    Johnson: I’m pretty sure you knew what I meant.

    I find it easier to read what you posted. This is The Truth About Cars, not The Truth about Mind Reading.

    Johnson: GM is/will be offering not one, but several hybrid systems (mild hybrid BAS system, Two-Mode, E-Flex), ethanol-powered vehicles, diesel engines, and fuel cells ALL in the same market (North America).

    It’s one thing to be covering your bets. It’s something else to be completely lost and using a shotgun approach to meet future challenges.

    And your proof that any automaker has found the Holy Grail that will answer fuel consumption and emissions concerns, is found where…

    Johnson: Flawed observation. Fact remains that the GM full-size hybrids will cost twice as much as a Prius.

    That’s irrelevant. (And the Prius costs more than a gasoline-powered Civic or Corolla, but that doesn’t stop these people from buying them.)

    If Toyota had used your logic, it would never have introduced the Prius.

    The current gasoline powered SUVs also cost more than a Prius, and people still buy them. These people can afford the cost differential.

  • avatar
    gibbleth

    Don’t get me wrong; i’d kill for an efficient, clean diesel in my Suburban (yes, a 2002 5.3l gas guzzler z71). But not for fuel mileage. Using a diesel to increase fuel mileage is kind of laughable right now because it ends up being done at a higher cost in fuel.

    What many people are missing is that the highly-efficient light diesels are all in light cars such as Volkswagens, that already make good mileage. A Suburban is a massive vehicle. To do what it needs to do reliably requires at least a mid-sized engine, ie, the 5.3. A 6.0 diesel would do nicely as well. Much less and you risk losing all that beautiful tow capability and load capability.

    It’s just not a Prius, folks. It cost me a lot less than a Prius. It burns about 30 gallons a month, as I work at home and it just gets groceries and so on, with the occasional long trip. It seats seven and carries all their stuff. The only thing on the market with better load and people carrying capability is a full-sized van, which gets worse fuel mileage.

    So, the truth is that the cost of fuel remains a relatively small percentage of my ownership costs on this beast ( around 10% of the total ), which is something I can live with for what it can do. It is, after all, some sort of combination sport and/or utility vehicle. For what it does, it is an incredibly efficient vehicle.

    Now, back to the diesel. With a diesel in place, this thing might make 20mpg with a manual transmission. However, it would have a much lower cost maintenance cycle. Fewer oil changes, less worry about electronic parts being defective, so on. A bullet-proof inline six turbo diesel would hit the spot nicely.

    That being said, I don’t think diesel cars will make the splash in the US they have in Europe. Europe’s diesel push is aided by government activism. It has driven the price of diesel up and will continue to do so as time goes on. Also, the US was treated to a stream of horrid diesels from GM et. al., and have never gotten a taste for a proper high compression turbo diesel.

    Oh, and for those of you who believe in global warming, diesel is much more carbon-heavy than gasoline. Why do you think it has a higher energy density?

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  • ToolGuy: …also good at basketball.
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  • tane94: I’d suggest a Mini S hardtop or convertible. You get a BMW turbo four with the S, and if buying the...
  • tane94: I’d suggest a Mini S hardtop or convertible. You get a BMW turbo four with the S, and if buying the...

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