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Were hybrids ever the silver bullet?

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,418
edited April 2014 in Chevrolet

Interesting discussion on CNBC asking if hybrids are dead because of the complexity and expense involved.

If Toyota can't isn't making any money on the Prius, then is it just possible that something other than hybrid technology is the short term solution?

Interesting to hear an auto analyst say, "hybrids actually are not a very good way to improve fuel efficiency"


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  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    Hybrids are merely a stepping stone to better technologies involving batteries used in mass-market vehicles.

    Without the last 15 years of Toyota technology being proven in the market, there would be no Volt, no Tesla, no MiEV, nothing.

    Someone had to pave the way and show that it was marketable and technologically possible.

    Thanks Toyota !!!!
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,418
    There's a difference between marketable and profitable... something that GM may discover with the Volt.

    I agree that the current crop of hybrids is a stepping stone. What's really holding things up is advances in battery tech.


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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,784
    If Toyota is putting a $1000 on the hood of their Prius to sell them in the mid $20k range, how in the World will GM be able to sell a $40k Volt. GM claims even at that price it will be a big money loser. Well that seems to be all GM can sell is money losers.

    Of course my contention has always been and even more so now that the hybrid technology is too complex for those of US that do not have long commutes. Longevity will be the killer for all battery powered vehicles. Facing a $10k to $15k replacement battery in a Plug-in or EV will not be something many will opt for. I would be more likely to buy a short range EV with lead acid or NiMH battery. Unless someone comes up with a better battery.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,418
    Unless someone comes up with a better battery.

    That would seem to be the key. And I'm with the analyst in that I think we can do a LOT better on mileage performance without having to resort to the complexity of a hybrid. For more than a few years now I've been wondering what has happened to the mileage we used to get out of small cars.

    My 81 Versa got over 50mpg on the highway, but by '96 my Sentra was down to just over 40 on the highway, a 20% decrease.

    But back on point, I think that right now the increased cost of hybrids vs conventional really weighs against them. And no, I'm not talking about "what you get for your money" kind of arguements, I'm talking about raw dollars. If I can spend $15K and get a new vehicle or $30K, guess which one I'm going to lean at right now.


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  • Is it any wonder that Hybrids have become rock solid leaders when the price of gas went thru the roof. Those that took the plunge realized the value in short order. Is there anyone who doubts that the price of gas will not escalate in the very near future? Funny how we adjust to the prices in time. I remember when $1.60 was high not too long ago. Sometimes science & technology need a kick in the pants to get the ball rolling (like $5.00 gas). With nearly 100 K miles on my Prius of 6 yrs I must say that when fuel was absorbitently high, it didn't seem to be nearly as painful as it was for others. Silver bullitt ? Yes but more than that it was bold of hybrids to attain the level of problems solved that they have. Well, some problems solved and with the pathway broken more to come.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,418
    But if Toyota isn't making any money on the Prius then I'm not seeing hybrids as the salvation of the automakers. It doesn't matter how many they sell if they're losing money on each one. Just like if it's going to take some kind of government "incentive" to try and "lower the price" of the Volt, I don't see how that helps GM at all.
    Whether some folks love the technology or not is irrelevant if it's going to run companies into the ground.


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  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,784
    It is hard to imagine that Toyota is not making money yet on the Prius. I would not want to buy any of the ones sitting in a yard for 100 days. That Big battery cannot be drained without permanent damage. Many people have left them for 2 weeks and they were dead when they got home. I do think they put a switch or something in to avoid that problem. Still a battery sitting out in the cold for an extended period will lose some of its potential.

    It was an experiment that paid off for Toyota. It may help Ford with the Fusion. I would not look for Toyota to add any more hybrids to their lineup.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,418
    Hearing that the Prius wasn't making any money surprised me as well. If you can't turn a profit with what essentially is the poster child for hybrids, then I think it's legitimate to wonder if the expense and complexity of hybrids makes it difficult, if not impossible, to have hybrids be the key to the turnaround of the auto industry.


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  • langjielangjie Posts: 247
    They only said that the Prius makes no money for Toyota. That's not bad for Toyota. They still make money on all the parts and they get great marketing. Then they also can develop their technology. Since the industry is trending more and more to electric vehicles, this is good research. I don't think hybrids is the key to the turnaround to the auto industry, electric vehicles will be.
  • Maryann Keller's books and expertise echoes those of her sources, GM management. The same GM management that can't make a profit with ordinary vehicles, much less hybrids. The tone-deaf GM management whose first announcement after the taxpayer bailout was the CUV Equinox, another gas-only vehicle. The GM executives who have offered automatic stop-start engines for eight years and calls them hybrids with no explanation of the terrible sales record and poor performance.

    'Maximum horsepower' Lutz is accountant Wagner's chief engineer. Lutz claims there is no global warming and as he told Stephen Colbert, his 'Volt' is for homely environmental chicks. His "two-mode" hybrid is for $55-60,000 passenger only SUVs (no vans or work vehicles.) He has only overpriced, useless automatic stop-start in the $20-30,000 range. Then his boss, Wagner's brilliance is asking for a tax payer bailout without both he and Lutz resigning. These are Maryann Keller's sources.

    These GM executives and Maryann, their publicist, have been given a few more months but none of them have had a 'road to Damascus' change of attitude. I'm content to wait and going out of business in the Spring is better than Winter. But nothing I've seen makes me want to go into a GM showroom.

    Bob Wilson
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,784
    It is hard to argue with your analysis of the GM hybrid program. Looking at the latest GMC Yukon hybrid. It gets exactly the same 20 MPG highway as the gas only version. With a worse CA air pollution score. GM is the joke of the industry. Going from 70% of the US market to about 20% in 30 years. They will be lucky to salvage 20% this year. As far as I can see the Volt is not going to even be a paper bullet for GM. I don't think they will ever put it into production.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    The joke was them calling the "mild" stuff hybrids in the first place. And then "independent" analysts on their payroll letting them get away with it (luckily Edmunds breaks down their system in their model info).

    Somehow I think the Volt is gonna be like the Vette...a big expensive halo, that will not trickle down to the rest if their lineup for fear of diluting their "halo." I mean come on, they can't even get it done with a 2-mode hybrid, while Ford is sitting there coming out with a hybrid coup, beating up on Toyota. Even if Ford loses money on those, just the pure PR they can get from one-upping Toyota (who seems to be doing some damage control footwork already) is going to be major. How much do you want to bet Keller gets money from Toyota too? With Ford coming out with THE most efficient midsize hybrid in the US, both GM and Toyota are going to want that accomplishment by Ford downplayed.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,784
    I agree. The Camry Hybrid was a good show by Toyota. Ford beating the Camry EPA ratings is a real accomplishment. I am not personally a fan of hybrids. I do think that Ford will do well if they can supply the market. When and if it ever turns around. Looking at the numbers on the Malibu hybrid, GM should be ashamed to even put it on the market.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Heck, even taking the hybrid out of the equation Ford beat the Camry with it. If the next Focus has a hybrid version, look out Civic and Prius.
  • As I see it. When the discussions come up about hybrids it seems that the topic centers around the hybrid system rather than the entire hybrid car. This is far from the sum total of what brought me to praising the Toyota Prius. The styling gets a B+, the roominess & the flip down seats a B, the hatchback a resounding A, storage areas a B, reliability of working parts an A, the CVT tranny is simply smooth as silk rating another A, theToyota service dept's an A (well at least my dealer), the resounding agreement of nearly all Toyota owners giving an A for overall satisfaction with the Prius. All the while Honda is not far behind.
    I learned way back in the early 70's that Honda made quality and inovative motorcycles that swept the country and their marketing was simple and also inovative too. When Honda hit the market with their 1st aircooled "Honda 600 Coupe" I needed no encouragment to buy one at $1,995.00 new out the door. It was an amazing car with its 10" wheels and 2cyl. engine. I drove it to Tampa, Florida from Chicago round trip and couldn't believe the gas mpg's ( 53).
    My young daughter bought a Pontiac Sunfire a few years ago and 6 months later everything seemed to go wrong with the car from brakes to AC, to both power windows failing. How can G.M. expect anyone to buy their cars if they are as fallable as the example just stated.
    One key point that won me over to the Prius was that "Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Popular Science, Mechanics Illustrated". and a host of other reliable critics said that the hybrid Prius was just about the best thing since duct tape.
    In the past I owned many American cars that I simply enjoyed emensely. examples: 55 Chevy, 63 Impala SS, 71 Mustang Mach 1, 73 Dodge Charger SE, and the list goes on. That was then and this is now. My Prius is a piece of the future today as I see it. The world of cars is changing and I do hope that American car makers find their mark soon because I want nothing better than to own one of theirs as I did in the past.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Uh... I have to correct some misconception with some first-hand experience.

    Someone posted earlier that hybrid battery is easily damaged and "dies" after two weeks parked. Well, is our hybrid the exception? We just parked in frozen condition for 10 days and the car started just fine after 10 days of 29-32F temperature. I have parked the car for two week straight in temperature range of 35-50 at an airport parking lot and it still starts. What gives?

    I know at least five Prius owners who own models dating back at least five years or more. Two have at least 100,000 miles on theirs, and battery packs are still running fine. What gives?

    If battery packs are failing left and right, I bet CNN will hear of it by now. Where are you all getting such information? it sounds like the old GM argument way back when Prius first came out.

    As for the cost of battery replacement? It is NOT $14,000 or $10,000, that is just exaggeration or misinformation. Toyota has clearly said that it will cost $4000-$6000 depending on the model. Please do the simple research to get the correct information. If my battery packs last 200,000 miles before I sink in $6000? I will do it so the car can run for another 100,000 miles. Why not?

    By the way, at 45000 miles, my brakes are still at 92%. Looks like I will never have to replace my brakes!

    The subject says "silver bullet" thus implying a solution to a problem. If we only focus on "raw price", then this thread suddenly becomes meaningless, no? If I need a SUV to carry my family and gear to remote trailheads, a $13,000 Kia two-door will not work. If I am single and drive only to and from work by myself, a simple two-door civic or something smaller with 4-cyl will do just fine, why bother with a Prius? I do not see how we can remove the "value" or "usability" factors and still keep the discussion meaningful.

    Hybrid is indeed a practical stepping stone. It blends long range capability with decent gas mileage for larger vehicle. Hybrid is also a way to address the emission problem. I think hybrids and plug-in hybrids will be with us for a long while before the next generation of car appears.

    The real "silver bullet" is not about an engine type but how we perceive transportation. Instead of everyone driving individually everyday for the simplest of tasks over the shortest of distance, we have to start thinking about efficient and clean mass transit that serves even the most hectic worker. When necessary, a community short-range EV fleet for communal use over short distance can work miracles. I can take mass transit or drive to a town, park, switch to a community EV for the rest of my run; won't that be great? When I am done, I carry the goodies to my car, jump in and leave town; or hop a bus/train to head home. If we do that, we will solve a lot of our consumption problems.

  • The jury is still out on the possible health risks associated with hybrid cars and electromagnetic fields. See NY Times article from 2008: ef=slogin

    Obviously it has to be studied more but the health uncertainty hybrid technology poses should not be ignored by knowledgeable and concerned consumers. You can google for more information about the potential health risks.
  • I just finished running thru the newest Consumer's Report covering all cars up to '09. The Prius from 04's 2ND Gen ( my car) to the 2009 models are highly rated with a Report Card grade of A+ anyway you slice it. The term "Silver Bullitt" is kind of vague at best. I like to consider the Hybrid Technology" the develoment of the "Better Mousetrap." I antisipate the coming of the 2010 Prius with great expectations. As to leading the way in Hybrid cars, Honda & Toyota seem leap years ahead of the rest of the industry. I have nearly 100K and have literally nothing but praise for the trouble free car. By the way. The scores for the 2nd Gen. Prius is nothing short of amazing...Check it out.

    P.S. By the way. As to info provided by "cdptrap" local dealer quotes a price of ....Small Battery...$152.57 & Large Main Battery...$2,588.00. A far cry from his info. It pays to shop around. My dealer (Lake-Shore Toyota N.W. Indiana) is outstanding both in service and parts. Lake-Shore..I salute you!!
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    As to leading the way in Hybrid cars, Honda & Toyota seem leap years ahead of the rest of the industry.

    I take it you never heard of Ford? You know, the guys about to release the most fuel efficient midsize hybrid sedan in the world? More fuel efficient than the Camry Hybrid, Altima Hybrid, and Malibu (snicker) Hybrid? Really the most fuel-efficient midsize, but the Prius and it's lawnmower engine made the midsize space requirement by a quarter of a cubic millimeter or something like that purely for PR purposes.

    They might not be a silver bullet, but hybrids have turned into a viable option for those who do the kind of stop and go driving that they excel in. I forsee the new Fusion Hybrid Taxicab...they've already got taxi fleets wrapped around their finger. heck, maybe they could fit the system to the Vic too.
  • I'll overlook your digs and just pass facts along. Ford is well remembered in my "Past." Unfortunitly back in 2003 when I decided to investigate the hybrid market Ford was nowhere to be seen. On the other hand Honda & Toyota were deep in their commitment to break ground with a serious alturnitive to the gas hogs. GM and Ford were still pushing out 9 mpg Hummers & Excursions. Of course no one knew the runaway gas futures and how they would handcuff the world. Yeh, I remember Ford & also GM and even Chrysler. I've owned several of each. Some good and some a pure nightmare of lemons. Trannys that wouldn't last 50K. Power windows that wouldn't last 2 yrs. A.C. that failed long b/4 it should have. Then one day I test drove the Prius. My wife drove first while I sat in the back amazed at the roominess of this high tech hybrid. Much more roomy that a Buick Riviera. I began to enjoy near 50 mpg's and that was a Godsend.
    As to my lawnmower engine, I have nearly 100K miles and have not a one problem. I've had the car up over 100mph and don't recall cutting any grass. I love to pass Excursions, Hummers, Escalades and gas-stations. Oh, and come to think of it, I saved over $10,000 during these 5 plus yrs of gas savings. FACT!
    Lastly, I hope that the Big 3 get it together and can even match Toyota & Honda on product quality and warrantees. Time will tell.
    Last point, check out the owners of Taxi Prius's in Vancouver, Canada. The Prius single-handedly saved their jobs. Many drivers praising the car piling up near 200K miles and thankfull for their existance. I do hope that your liking of the Ford Fusion Hybrid is worthy. I'll check it out sometime soon I hope. By the way ..What is it you drive? I'm curious. That's all. :shades:
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Mazda3. I do too much highway driving for a hybrid to be worth the price premium. But I'm both a gadget nut and work in the auto industry so I do follow the technology and the market. You really need to check Ford out again, they've really turned it around. My next car purchase may be a new Fusion, though likely the I4 rather than the hybrid.

    Anyway, just as a point of reference, Consumer Reports dropped Toyota's auto-reliable status a while ago. I hear they're thinking of giving it to Ford, they've jumped that far in their reliability surveys. Ford is definitely game to go against the Camry Hybrid. If they decide to make a Focus hybrid it'd probably be game against the Prius.

    GM on the other hand, i wouldn't count on.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    Railroadjames, thanks for the new battery prices, they are really coming down! I asked our dealer about that last year (April '08) and for our '06 HH, labor included, it will be about $6000 "as far as they know" because they have not had to do any and price could go up or down when they do the first one. So the official Toyota dealer best-guess then was $6000 for the '06 HH.
  • cdptrapcdptrap Posts: 485
    I have to agree that Ford is the most innovative of the three US auto giants. I really hope FOrd makes it and starts to catch up to the Japanese. Fuel-Electric hybrid is nothing new and Ford should be able to do this.

    It will be so nice to see Ford come out with a Plug-In hybrid that can run the first 20 or 30 miles on electric alone at up to 60-MPH. Even in tough terrain, the juiced-up battery can still assist the gas engine resulting in significant savings. This will be something really worth looking into.

    The quality issue is a tough one to overcome and only time will heal this wound. I was a Ford person since birth because my family came from MI and we had nothing but Ford cars. We were used to the tinkering, home-repairs and all such activities on weekends. When the engine became more computerized, home-service became difficult and the constant visit to shops (once a year, several days at a time) in addition to our own home-service starting at around 25000 miles began to grow old. We finally broke down and got a Toyota and was completely sold. Our '06 HH has 45K miles and not one day in the shop for repairs; NOT ONE. Our 129,000-mile '99 Sienna was in the shop once, to fix a steering rack problem; ONCE! The best part is I no longer waste weekends doing anything to the cars. We just hop in, start up and off we go.

    I hope Ford catches up and starts earning these distinguished records. There is something homey about buying from Detroit again :).

    ps. Ford is really not just an "American" car company. It is more an international firm with manufacturing overseas. Toyota has factories hiring Americans right here at home. So "buying from Detroit" is about nostalgia, not about the often misleading "buy American" claim.
  • I've heard this (what I call misconception) long enough. What with paying $21,456.00 out the door back in '04 and what with tax rebates, gas savings and ...hold it great resale value. I fail to see the arguement that a Prius is anything but a smart choice for purchase. There are countless other reasons to buy a Prius (and/or HH) What did your Mazda 3 sell for out the door? What year was it. I think that your choice was a good one because Mazdas are truly a sound investment.

    p.s. The reliability that I stress so vehemently is litteraly the one area that Toyota has proven by buckets. Ask anyone that owns one and you'd be hard pressed to find less than confidence and satisfaction. Prius is a solid vehicle in these economically trying times. I'll be putting down a deposit on a 2010 very soon. Well, if my gov. checks don't start bouncing that is. I've enjoyed our fertile banter. Take care. I'm a retired Locomotive Engineer. I used to drive a kind of Hybrid Engine for the record. Diesel/ Electric. I really do miss the rails. :shades:
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Sorry but there is a "hybrid premium." A hybrid engine is an engine upgrade over the base engine, same as a V6. Only difference is, it's an engine upgrade designed to save fuel. However, it saves much MORE fuel with city driving than it does with highway driving, and 90% of my driving is highway. That makes it difficult to justify, for example, paying $26,000 (plus tax and fees) for a car that gets 36 MPG highway versus paying $20,000 for a car that gets 33MPG highway. I'm only going 3 extra miles per gallon...when driving a 110 mile a day commute, that's a drop in the bucket. Now, if that was 110 miles of city driving it'd be a different story, and I'd probably be getting 41 MPG or better, an extra 5 or more miles per gallon, which would REALLY add up. Now, tax rebates are another factor, but remember that the Prius doesn't get any anymore. Not sure if the Escape still does but the Fusion will. That might help.

    Incidentally, my Mazda3 is a 2004 5-door..I was actually buying it to replaced a grenaded Chevy Corsica and was in a hurry, but I lucked out with finding the 3. Paid about $21,500 OTD myself. Really like it, but I bought it before I got this job with the long commute, and it's a bit punishing sometimes. Very interested in the Fusion as my next ride, though the Insight caught my eye (I like hatches).
  • I don't know where you get the impression that hiway driving is so reduced compared to city but your in for a rude awakening. My wife & I did an 8K trip to Montana and down to Utah and back to Valpo, Indiana. We averaged over 47 mpg's with the exception of the high mountains in Glacier Nat. Prk. Trips to Atlanta, Ga several times crowded 50 mpg's. Several times I've gotten 540 plus miles to a tank of gas (11 gal cap.) To tell the truth ...Short trips around town drop to 42-44 mpg's because the engine seldom warms up especially in real cold & frigid weather. It's 20 below as I write. Gosh I love my fireplace tonite. Like you I really like my hatchback. I have 2 dogs: one 70 lbs & one 105 lbs. It's easy access for them and cargo too. Lastly, remember that with a Prius Hybrid, with 2 drive motors that means after 100K miles the ICE engine worked only about 60 K miles and was duel assisted by and large much of the time with the Electric Mode. This is actually an asset when you consider traffic jams a big plus. When I'm sitting or crawling along in Electric Mode while a Hummer H2 is burning @ 10 mpg in the same framework I smile. I've gotten as high as 62 mpg's several times in this annoying trap. The Prius runs cooler too in extreem hot weather for obvious reasons. One other thing: the styling never seems to grow old considering that my 'o4 Prius looks just like an '09. What do they say? Don't mess with a good thing. :blush:
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Well, I would never buy a Prius because I just strongly dislike Toyota. :shades:

    P.S. Thanks to TOYOTA I've saved enough $$$$$ in gas savings to actually get out and vacation each yr. Remember when gas was $4.50 -$4.75? I watched as a woman in a 3/piece suit filled a Hummer to the tune of $130.00 plus while I came & went to the happy tune of a $32.00 fill-up. She was back in 300 miles to do it again where as I wouldn't do it till well after 500 plus miles. The "price premium" seems a matter of perspective. :) :blush:
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Posts: 2,743
    Well, I don't like the way Toyota's drive, I don't like their interiors, and i REALLY don't like their salesmen around here. Not everything is about money or the best fuel economy: I spend so much time in the car that I need to enjoy it and not be in a penalty box (or what I see as one anyway). That's why I'd consider an Insight or Fusion but not a Prius (much as I like hatches).

    Like you said, to each their own. The Prius is the right car for some, but not for me.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,784
    She was back in 300 miles to do it again where as I wouldn't do it till well after 500 plus miles.

    I agree she was stupid to buy the Hummer when she could buy a BMW X5 diesel or Mercedes GL320 CDI and gotten 700 miles on a tank of diesel @ close to 30 MPG. With a lot more luxury and performance at about the same price. I know you like your Prius. 15 minutes riding around with a friend turned me off on them COMPLETELY. I would rather spend 3 times as much for gas in my gas guzzling Sequoia than be subjected to that rough noisy little car. Taking an 8k mile trip in one proves you are one tough dude.
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