Hybrids: Who Needs Them?

hybrids who needs them

Plugins are range anxiety on wheels. Hybrids are expensive, and usually come with a payback time longer than the average lease. In some cases, longer than your life. Lugging a big battery and two engines around can defeat the purpose. Hybrids are also expensive to develop. In Europe, the strategy has been to improve the old ICE as much as possible. Midsize automakers in Japan go the same route, with sometimes surprising results. Their gasoline-powered cars beg the question: Why go to the hybrid trouble at all?

Next year, Mazda will release a compact car with a 3liter /100km (78 mpg) consumption, “making it the most efficient car of its size in the world,” says The Nikkei. [sub]. Mr. Piech will chuckle, or get mad when he hears that. His Lupo 3L hit the 3 liter mark in 1999, but it didn’t sell. The lightweight space-age materials made it too expensive. Mazda is going the same route, hopefully with more success. They developed a gas engine that is 15 percent more efficient than the current design and a new diesel mill that is 20 percent more efficient. Mazda also trimmed 100kg in weight from the body.

If coming in as advertised, the new Mazda would beat Honda’s Insight hybrid. It uses 3.33 l / 100km (70.6 mpg). Mazda hasn’t set a price yet, but promises it will be competitive with other compacts. Eyeing potential in emerging markets, with their growing middle classes, the company plans to sell its new engines to foreign automakers.

Suzuki will introduce a new Swift this fall with a 10 percent better mileage and no price premium.

Later this year, Fuji Heavy will equip its Subarus with engines that are 10 percent more fuel efficient. As a further savings measure, the larger models will get CVT transmissions.

Daihatsu said they will release a gas-powered minicar with the same fuel efficiency as a hybrid next year.

Mitsubishi Motors will launch a fuel-efficient compact next year. Production of some of the new cars will be moved to emerging markets.

Says the Nikkei: “Fuel-efficient models are becoming the top-selling car type worldwide. Hybrids are catching on in Japan and other rich nations but not in developing countries. Lacking the resources to develop their own hybrids, midsize automakers are focusing on tapping emerging-market demand with better gas-powered models.”

Comments
Join the conversation
3 of 34 comments
  • Niky Niky on Jul 07, 2010

    @jaje: The moment a car saves you money, that's when the lifecycle emissions work out to the positive (of course, that's a bit debatable as some people like to point out the hidden cost of fuel subsidies. Hey, let's throw down the hidden cost of electrical, communication and road subsidies while we're at it, ey? Oh... and let's remove that pesky hybrid incentive...)... Once you've saved money, given that everything you've paid for is taxed or priced properly, then you've come out ahead of the emissions curve. The hybrid's price premium reflects the extra energy cost of materials and manufacturing that go into it. Once you've paid off that premium, you're in the clear. For many people, it won't make sense. For a few (taxi drivers who do over 100,000 miles a year in urban traffic...), the pay-off is terrific. @brandloyalty: Simply... the most eco-conscious thing to do is to walk, bike, motorbike or commute. Saves you a ton of money. Biking and walking are good for your health (unless you're biking in a crowded city... in which case, your exposure to pollutants is higher than everyone else). And your carbon footprint goes down a whole bunch.

  • John Pui John Pui on Jul 07, 2010

    Why must there be a calculation made by the consumer on hybrid payback time? That only really makes sense in a commercial environment where there is an expected return on investment. I don't see calls from the best and the brightest to calculate the monetary value of time savings from owning a relatively sporty and quick car, nor are there open advocates for minivan purchases that could be leveraged into carbon saving car pools. Personal vehicles can be strictly utilitarian, but more often than not they are emotional purchases. If we were all rational economic beings, we would all be driving 5-7 year old used cars or be members of Zipcar, and there would be no market for "insert favorite car here."

    • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Jul 08, 2010

      Appreciated your insightful comments, JP. New ideas are always given a very hard time, just to make sure they're not a mistake. But sometimes this quashes ideas we need but resist.

  • Bryan Raab Davis I briefly dated an Australian fellow who was mad for Aspires; one of his better characteristics, if I’m honest.
  • ToolGuy Check out Ferrari's market cap:https://companiesmarketcap.com/automakers/largest-automakers-by-market-cap/
  • ToolGuy • Not sure who you get when you call the "Company phone" number listed on the recall report, but confident that it ISN'T Ferrari (someone either screwed up or made a conscious exception; recall might need a recall; where is my excellence in government that all of you are funding?).• 99% of them are fine.• On later models, additionally, a message will also appear on the vehicle’s dashboard that reads as follows: “Brake fluid level low, Go to dealer slowly”. That right there is classic.• Anyway, this is what happens when you build to a price point... (ba dum tsh!)
  • Art Vandelay And what a giant pile of sh!t ths new format is. Great job guys, way to run off the last of the die hards.
  • Theflyersfan If you ever want a review on a 2022 Mazda MX-5 GT RF, I'll be more than happy to type up a few thousand words and add in some great pictures in front of Churchill Downs for y'all!In a nutshell, I agree with this review. I didn't have a chance to try the Recaro seats because the only test drive available was with another GT that someone backed out in buying so it was being used as a demo. But from what I was told, if you're larger than a 38 waist or taller than 5'10", it gets tight. But with the standard seats, and I'm 5'10" and maybe 20 pounds from the 38 waist, I fit fine. Now getting in and out with the roof up after shoulder surgery (especially leaving the surgery center with most of the right arm under a nerve block) is the total opposite of graceful!!! The look on the nurse's face when the MX-5 pulled up and I'm partially wrapped up like a mummy was priceless.I've had mine since the middle of April and have already put 6,700 miles on it, including round trips from Louisville to Chicago and the Philadelphia suburbs. Averaged 38-39 mpg at a steady 75 mph, and it wasn't a torture chamber. The metal top helped a lot. The standard seats are a bit thin on padding, and there was a bit of squirming by around hour 8 on the Philly drive, but it's possible. But even though this design was released in 2015, I still get compliments from total strangers at stoplights, carwashes, gas stations, restaurants, etc. The Soul Red Metallic paint just makes the car pop. I wish it was available with the Terra Cotta leather (the gray above is available with it), and that it didn't have the standard all in black, because it gets thermonuclear in there with the top down and the sun beating on you, but a minor quibble. But it's just fun. Pure driving fun. The best stick shift in any car today. Solid brakes, excellent handling, a sane amount of power to where you aren't going to get into anything reckless and stupid. After a 12+ hour day at work, there's nothing better than dropping the top and driving the 20 minutes home with the better than I thought it would be Bose stereo playing Moby into my ears through the headrest speakers. Mazda has already announced there will be an NE model so I can't wait for that. It'll be interesting how they will keep the weight down with the expected changes to eke more MPG out of what is already an efficient car.
Next