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Why Does Edmunds Hate Hybrids?

mt2000mt2000 Posts: 5
edited October 2012 in Toyota
Seriously, virtually every hybrid review I read on this site includes some idiotic statement how the hybrid version of whatever model "does not make economic sense."

Forget the fact that gasoline is really about a third too cheap in the US compared to the rest of the world -- even in Russia gas is at world prices -- only places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela come close to the (effectively subsidized) prices in the US. Gas really ought to be closer to $6 here, if we went by a world market price.

But these hybrids also employ some great and innovative technology and more likely than not, are the future of automobiles. You'd expect real tech writers to be more excited about that, the same way they are excited about 0.5 seconds acceleration difference, which most of us will never notice.

Some of the reviews feel like they were typed on a typewriter by a middle-aged, fat guy, nursing a Bud in the backwoods somewhere. Complete with a checkered flannel shirt and a dead deer draped across the hood of the Chevy parked outside.... Am I close? Phew!


  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    I don't think Edmunds hates hybrids - many hybrid drivers and lovers post here. But...driving enthusiasts tend to hate hybrids, as many are the closest thing possible to a generic transportation pod, and have generally terrible handling. There's also sometimes a self-righteous image, but I won't get into that further. Hybrids have a place in the personal transport scheme of things, but not all vehicles are loved by all consumers. I drive a V8 car now, and my next car will likely be more efficient. I'd be more tempted by diesel than hybrid, though.

    I don't buy the "world market price" idea for gasoline. There is no world market price. Oil has a world market price, but automotive fuel is up to local inputs. Taxes make the difference. Americans pay less tax than other first world nations, because Americans settle for crumbling road infrastructure and in many places, invisible public transit options. Last time I checked, Russia was also virtually identical to the US in terms of fuel prices, and not nearly as expensive as western Europe.

    Because of American willingness to pay little and get little (same idea as personal tax rates, maybe), hybrids often have at least a short term economic disadvantage for many drivers. And that's ignoring the negative externalities of production issues, especially regarding batteries. You have to drive it several years to come out ahead. But do it, and you win. Many people who bought a Prius in 2006 and had the self discipline to keep it are probably happy now.

    If one wants to drive a hybrid, more power to them. Just accelerate onto highways at the speed of traffic, and employ lane discipline. Those are the only hybrid driver annoyances I encounter. Otherwise, more power to you - you can use less gas so more is left for me :shades:
  • mt2000mt2000 Posts: 5
    edited October 2012
    Well, "driving enthusiasts" (whatever that means) also prefer stick shifts, but those are pretty much absent from the US and I bet a large percentage of the readers here have never even driven a manual transmission car.

    As to comparing gasoline prices in the US (outside of California) and Russia, the Russians seem to pay roughly $1 per liter, which is about $0.2 per gallon more, even though their incomes are multiple times lower. The Germans, which I suppose can get as close to a nation of "car enthusiasts" as anyone (based on the cars they design and produce) pay just over double that (currently about $2.06 per liter).

    Cheap, subsidized US gasoline prices are the only reason Detroit can continue to churn out sub-$25k trucks and "enthusiast" cars like the Camaro, with huge displacement and decades old tech, which would be laughed at and be unable to compete anywhere else in the world.

    And why "car enthusiast" publications like Edmunds can continue to insert "doesn't make economic sense" into every hybrid review.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    edited October 2012
    Driving enthusiasts - people who like some feedback and handling ability from their cars. Most drivers do not fall into this category, which is why hybrids and other appliance cars sell at all. However, most who will bother to spend time on an automotive themed forum will be enthusiasts in some way, and I'd wager the majority of people who post here have at least tried a stick before.

    The latest info I found on Russian gas prices has an average of around .77 Euro/liter - which is less than I pay here in WA state. Their incomes are lower, but most lower income people there don't own cars - ownership rates are far less. Germany pays huge taxes which makes for huge prices (I will be there next week and feel the pain myself), but they get amazing roads and world class transit for it. We pay much less, and receive much less. They also have a fleet of more efficient cars. I once rented a 4cyl diesel E-class there that easily topped 40mpg in mixed driving. Not available here.

    Gas here isn't really subsidized, it's just taxed less. That does indeed help trucks sell, but instantly raise those prices to western European levels, and you'll have economic collapse and riots in the street. Housing and transportation infrastructure in most of NA simply isn't ready for expensive fuel yet. It has to be changed as or even before prices rise, not after.

    From my experience, many hybrid drivers aren't only about economics anyway - they like the statement and the good feeling gained by using less fuel, that's worth something too. I doubt cynical reviews have changed the minds of most hybrid shoppers.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,195
    I think you can be an enthusiast of another sort with a hybrid. No, you won't get that feel of the road but trying to squeeze that extra mile out of the gas can be its own entertainment.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    Yes, there is such a thing as an economy enthusiast. Not the same as a driving/car enthusiast IMO, but it is an enthusiast no less.

    To the OP, I don't think Edmunds hates hybrids, but I do think many in the peanut gallery do look at hybrid drivers through jaded eyes. Piousness and slowpoke hypermiling never earns friends.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,936
    Then again, with friends like Exxon.... :)
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I drive a 2nd gen Prius and it's not much different than driving any rental car I've ever driven, so to me it seems stupid not to buy a hybrid when you can buy a Prius that hold 4 adults comfortably with 21CuFt of trunck space for the same price as an Accord, Camry, Fusion, Malibu, Passat, etc... So you get nearly twice the MPG and more trunck space for the same price.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    I can agree with that, a boring hybrid is no less exciting than a normal blandbox. A plain old 4cyl Camcord or equivalent isn't exactly a machine full of fun and excitement.

    However, some of us like a more engaging experience than one can find in a rental sled :shades:
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I agree with you on that, but based on car sales, most don't need anything more engaging.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    More like don't want. Most people are neither car nor driving enthusiasts.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,936
    Edmunds is based in California, southern California at that. Arguably the home to most car enthusiasts per mile in the US.

    Three guesses what the best selling car in California currently is (through the end of September).
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    Not a surprise, as CA is also by far the most populous state, and even there, car enthusiasts are a small minority. The gigantic population (over 35M, I believe) does it.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,936
    What's not a surprise?

    Can't even say it? :D
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    edited October 2012
    Because car people are a small minority even there. Also, that particular "car" is about making a statement, and it has been popular there for some time.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,936
    edited October 2012
    That's right sports fans, the Toyota Prius [is the] best selling car in California. (CNN)

    "California has a higher proportion of the older, highly educated car shoppers who tend to favor the Prius.

    California is also unfriendly territory for Toyota's domestic competitors. As a general rule, cars from General Motors (GM, Fortune 500), Ford (F, Fortune 500) and Chrysler do not sell well in that state compared to the rest of the country while Asian automakers fare particularly well.

    In part, that trend has its roots in the fact that when Asian automakers like Toyota and Honda first came to the U.S., they came through California, which was a natural port of entry with a large Asian population, said John O'Dell, an analyst with the automotive Web site Honda and Toyota still have their U.S. headquarters in southern California making them, essentially, hometown brands with strong local roots."

    John O'Dell - now who is that guy?

    Oh yeah, he was hired by Edmunds back in 2007 to focus on green car coverage. "Using the existing Edmunds' Green Car Guide as a foundation, he will build the popular channel to meet growing interest in topics such as hybrid cars, alternative fuels, technological developments and gas-saving tips." (link)

    Edmunds - hating hybrids since at least 2007. :D
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Sometimes I read people saying that Prius owners are a bunch of environmental liberals out to preach to the world. I disagree that all Prius owners are trying to "make a statement."

    If any car-type owner is "trying to make a statement" then I'd say it's the sports car owners (I'm a powerful person with a powerful car), giant SUV owners (I'm such an outdoor/active person), and/or luxury car owners (look how rich I am).

    Like I said in my previous post, the Prius is a versatile, practical, high quality car that happens to have low emissions and get great MPG, with the emphasis on practicality. I drive one to save money, not "make a statement." If someone thinks I'm trying to "make a statement" by driving a Prius, that's their problem, not mine.

    And if someone is not buying a Prius even though they think it's a smart buy for them, but they're afraid of what other people will think of them, then they need to grow up and start thinking for themsleves because it's pretty sad to live for other's perceptions.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    edited October 2012
    What about those who drive sleeper performance cars, you know, those that don't look fast, but are? Like my car :shades:

    Nobody said "all" owners are trying to make a statement, but some are, and probably more in CA than some other places. I don't think the show off part is being afraid per se, but being proud or maybe even different for the sake of being different. Green has been trendy for some time. Does the Prius need the weird styling and the hybrid badge? Nope, but it wears both, to differentiate itself. If the Prius had just been a Corolla with identical trim, no badging - just the hybrid powertrain. I'd wager an awful lot it wouldn't be such a success
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,936
    That's happening with the Ford hybrids.

    The Prius has the brand cachet.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Actually the styling of the Prius is based on aerodynamics (shape) and practicality (i.e. the hatch-back style). On the inside, the shifter is just a knob on the dash, which also makes sense with today's electronically controlled transmissions, especially CVT transmissions. There's no need to have the transmission stick/lever between the front seats. It just wastes usable space. And for sporty cars, paddle shifters work better anyway and with those there could simply be the Prius-type knob on the dash since you don't need to touch it once it's in Drive..just use the paddle shifters.

    As far as people who buy "sleeper performance cars" I don't know...what do you consider a sleeper performance car?
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