Quote Of The Day: Gas Price Amnesia

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

“I think it’s fairly interesting from a cultural memory standpoint, that American car buyers, for the most part, don’t seem to have memory of gas prices two, three or six months ago,”

TrueCar President John Krafcik speaking to NPR about slumping hybrid sales.

According to NPR, hybrid sales are off by about 5 percent this year, despite a new car market that’s on track for a record year. Sales of trucks and SUVs, on the other hand, are up by double digits.

For many consumers, the extra cost of a hybrid just isn’t worth it. Not when the internal combustion engine has gotten so efficient, and the fuel efficiency of the overall new vehicle fleet is bound to be a big improvement, especially given that the average vehicle on the road is 11 years old.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • Chan Chan on Oct 28, 2014

    Another problem is that the Prius has saturated both its intended and unintended markets. Everyone that wanted one now has one, and the cars haven't died yet. For a mostly highway commute, a cheaper Corolla is more economical to own for many people. For dense cities, smaller cars are easier to park. But for many suburban families, the Prius is a great modestly-sized family car that provides surprising cargo room and astoundingly low running costs. This is assuming an educated buyer with a keen mind on the history of fuel prices and some capacity for critical thinking. Then we have the mindless buyers who have no long-term memory and stretch their budgets for new shiny things, the bigger the better. The Prius is a temporary penalty box "until gas prices come back down." Those are the people Krafcik speaks of, but they don't represent the entire market. Krafcik's company (Hyundai) doesn't even make a competitor to the Prius. The Sonata is way too big for urban buyers. Its appeal is limited, and even then its fuel economy isn't a selling point relative to its competition (Camcord hybrids).

  • Wstarvingteacher Wstarvingteacher on Oct 28, 2014

    One daughter in Dallas has an old Prius (2010?) that has been remarkable. She is a realtor and it works very well for her. Starting battery her only repair other than tires and oil. Second daughter liked that so well that she now has a 2014 for mixed driving around Florida. I thought of neither as soul killing. They represent the low repair and high gas economy mix that many people will pay a premium for. Gearheads have a propensity for knowing what others need to drive and I can see some of the reasons why. However, I have a 57 chevy that can consume as much repair money as I care to spend. I drive a Nissan Cube and risk being thought of as driving a soulless appliance. I can see myself driving a Prius when it cashes in as I understand the supply of new cubes dries up in 2015. Since repairs on cars became as undecipherable and unsustainable as they are, I have really come to treasure dependability. Common repairs now approach the dollar level that engine and transmission changes used to command. I have come to feel that life is too short to support my local mechanic at the level he desires.

  • Jimbob457 Jimbob457 on Oct 29, 2014

    “I think it’s fairly interesting from a cultural memory standpoint, that American car buyers, for the most part, don’t seem to have memory of gas prices two, three or six months ago,” – TrueCar President John Krafcik speaking to NPR about slumping hybrid sales. Well, for a number of years it looks like the Prius is destined to become a bit of a cultural memory itself, at least in North America. Crude oil has fallen from $100 USD per barrel to $80 in just a few weeks. Those in the know think it may fall a bit further and settle in the $60 to $90 range for quite a few years (absent some major political supply interruption). Fracking is the major cause. Long term, it can produce lots of oil for $60-$70 per bbl, and not just at certain places in the US (see the recent USGS survey on the subject). Fracking does even better at producing cheap natural gas. The era of expensive oil and gas looks to be over for a few decades for most of the world. It was ever thus. The petroleum industry has seemingly always been on a 25 to 30 year cycle.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Oct 30, 2014

    Just rented a brand-new Prius with less than 5000 miles for two 9-hour drives and some city schlepping in between. I was surprised. The new Gen 3 looks nearly identical to the old Gen 2, but it's a much better car--quieter, smoother than the Gen 1 and Gen 2 cars I have driven. An entirely acceptable drive, yet it still maintains the Prius virtues of being big inside but small outside, and having amazing fuel economy. I expected it to be great in the city but miserable on the highway, since city driving is the ideal hybrid use case. It was the opposite! On the highway it was quietish and comfortable, with a plush ride and little sensitivity to crosswinds. You don't want to attack curves at high speed with that video-game steering, and the small fuel tank erases some of the high-MPG convenience, but in general this is a fine highway commuter. But in the city there was a weird throttle lag from a stop, EVERY time, so to get it moving you had to use way more throttle than you'd like. As soon as the drivetrain awoke from its torpor you'd have to back way off, and the transmission would do its best impression of an old 4-speed automatic lurching into top gear and leaving you with too much speed and too little engine braking. Also unwelcome was the needlessly persistent control weirdness. Simply leaving a parking lot is needlessly complex, between the weird joystick shifter, the pushbutton parking brake, the foot operated parking brake, and the interior beeping in Reverse. Upon my return I hopped into a Ford C-Max Hybrid, and enjoyed double the horsepower, linear throttle response, reassuring steering, more room, and controls that work like any other car's...and 10 fewer MPG. There is no free lunch.