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Toyota Prius and Honda Hybrid: Will anyone buy Hybrids??

barich1barich1 Posts: 87
edited April 1 in Honda
What do people think about the soon-to-be-released
Toyota Prius and Honda Hybrid? Will people buy
them for the novelty of it, to save money on gas,
or to help the environment? Or will people ignore
it in droves due to the newness of the technology
and the fact that gas prices are so low? And how
many people would buy it to help the environment?
What does everyone think?
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Comments

  • varmitvarmit Posts: 1,125
    I wonder about this too, but, more than any other factors, I think that the American buyer will consider them in terms of style vs. performance. I can't think of any times where the newness of a technology has stopped sales. Novelty might account for initial sales, but I don't see that lasting long.

    I think the environment and gas mileage issues would be the major considerations. Will they buy them for these reasons? Probably not, but I do think that they should.

    I recently purchased a Honda CRV. A few of my many motivations were that it supplied the same cargo and people capacity as the larger sport-utes, but gets 22 to 25 mpg and has the California emissions option. Were I in the market for a small sedan, I would have considered multi-fuel technology. I think that there are others out there who think along these lines, but the main factors in the US market will always be horsepower and image. In my opinion, it's still too soon to expect a profit from these vehicles.
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    I don't think we can or should expect Americans as a whole to be altruistic enough to purchase overly expensive, poorly performing, untested vehicles for altruistic purposes.

    I was considering an electric car until I realized that for the price of a pokey compact with a miniscule range I could get a Porsche. Next door to my office is a dealership that sells Sparrows, which are basically one-person, three-wheeled, enclosed electric motorcycles. Price? $12,500.

    I know hybrids perform normally, but I still think you're going to have to give people more economic incentive to buy them. Helping the environment won't be reason enough.

    According to "Electrifying Times," "Toyota is losing money on every Prius sold -- more than 25 percent of the sticker price at $17,000. That price is less than half that of Toyota's electric car but still nearly $8,000 more than the similarly sized Toyota Corolla with more frills."

    When buyers don't have to choose between one Prius or two Corollas, maybe the Prius will have a chance.
  • dae3dae3 Posts: 55
    ejs

    Did you mean to say "$17000?" If you did, you can't get a Corolla for $9000. And you certainly can't get two corollas for $17000.

    If it was an accident then could you post the correct price. I'm kind of curious what the prius costs.
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    Yeah, you know, I thought it was suspect too. As I said, I lifted that quote from "Electrifying Times" (www.electrifyingtimes.com), which was the fiest place I could find any mention of a Prius's price. The sentence is confusing. Ignore it.

    I did a little more research and found one site that claimed Priuses were being sold in Japan for $16,500 US. Another says that the Prius will sell in the US for $20,000 "nicely equipped." That sounds like a good price point to me. However, a third site (www.evworld.com) said:

    "Industry observers estimate that Toyota is losing something like $16,000 for every Prius it sells. This is because it costs between $35,000 and $40,000 to build, while Toyota sells the car for less than $20,000. One might call this the price of "one-upsmanship." Whatever Toyota's motives for selling the Prius at a sizable loss, there is no disputing the fact they have created a technological tour d' force that is the envy of the automotive world."

    So kudos to Toyota. However, this is obviously not a profitable route. Possible scenarios from here:

    1. They reduce production costs through economy of scale-- Best case scenario. Prius keeps selling for 20K but doesn't hemorrhage money for Toyota.

    2. They eventually start selling Priuses for $40,000, and everyone who would buy a Prius buys a Boxster instead. Or two Corollas.

    3. The prices of all other Toyotas go up to subsidize Prius sales. People start buying Hondas instead.

    4. Toyota discontinues the Prius.

    Does anyone have any suggestions how else this might go?
  • hugobeckerhugobecker Posts: 45
    There's another economy at work here and Toyota and all other manufacturers are hard at work trying to build vehicles that will score 'eco' credits with governmental bodies.

    The Prius will set a standard for hybrid vehicles. It is roomy, relatively quick (faster than a Geo Metro ;-), and cheap to operate. They don't necessarily want to sell 'tons' of them (we lose $1 on every one we sell, but we make it up in volume ;-). What will work against Toyota is the Honda Insight. It is a similar hybrid with better mpg (and possibly emissions) but is a much smaller vehicle.

    The hybrids would have much better mileage if they used diesel engines, but they won't use them because CARB considers diesel effulents toxic. (You see, it's not mileage that's important, but emissions. The Prius meets SULEV standards.)

    All things considered (in particular the power utilities method of generating electricty) the hybrids may prove to be more 'eco'friendly than an all electric vehicle.

    There have been reviews of the RHD Prius in several papers and Toyota is working with families to try to get the cars in consumers hands. The ~ $20K price is a good guess.

    They will meet their targets with this vehicle and to be honest, they may face a delimma on how many they can afford to build based on what should be decent demand.

    There was an annoucement recently that Toyota and GM will be working on hybrid vehicles together. Jim Mateja reported that possibly Chevy could end up with a hybrid based on the Prius (or the next gen Prius). Hmmm... someone else to share costs with.

    Look for a lot more information on the Prius after October 1st.
  • pene1pene1 Posts: 1
    i for one am tired of paying for so much gasoline.
    i am also tired of the choking smoggy air and the dismal traffic jams with all the dirty idling cars. the oil companies loath the introduction of any fuel efficient cars and have lobbied hard to make us all feel they won't work. if the public demands it, they will build them and there is might in numbers and dollars. ford and gm better take heed. japanese hybrids are coming to the usa and i want one.
  • dae3dae3 Posts: 55
    Electric cars DON'T work. That is why we are talking about hybrids. I think there has been a lot more hype for electric than against it so I don't think you have a good case for there being lobbying against them. When the performance and comfort and ease of use of the Hybrids and the other low emission vehicles come into the mainstream, people will buy them. Until then they will be cars for a small percentage of people that have extra money to pay for an extra car that they don't really have to depend on as their main vehicle.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    The hybrids are just not practical in my eyes. They are small, low performance cars. So they are targeted at the Economy car segment of the market. Yet, they are signicantly more expensive than any economy cars that I have ever seen, and worse in performance than most economy box out there. As of now, it doesn't make sense to own one except for novelty sake. People could argue for enviroment friendly aspect of it, but since most of us are still going to be driving the normal cars, one or 2 hybrid cars are not going to change anything.

    Right now, the technology is just not there to produce a good electrical car (energy capacity of the batteries we have is just not sufficient), a hybrid in the end is just trying to merge 2 car into one (a gas and an electrical). Therefore the cost of what amounts to 2 cars will always be more expensive than the single gas engine cars (at least for the foreseeable future). So I think Toyota and Honda are making a mistake for putting these cars on the market. But then again, maybe the political correct statements from such actions is worth it?
  • atlatl Posts: 7
    "...the envy of the automotive world" huh? What world?--Pluto? Let's see -- slow, ugly, roomy as a sardine can, suicidally unprofitable; now there's a recipe for success. I think the Edsel was "the envy of the automotive world" once, too. Here's the 4 people in America that will buy one: Al Gore, Ted Turner, Barbara Streisand and Ralph Nader (if it's crashworthy). Oh, sorry, pene1 wants one also. As for me, I'll wait for Hennessey to come out with a solar-powered, Venom 650 Viper. That's a p.c. vehicle I can rally around.
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    I'd pay extra for a Hennessey-powered vehicle-- one shot for me, one shot for the car... In a pinch, Jim Beam or even Old Granddad would do. Down south it would have to run on Jack Daniels.

    Some advantages:
    1. Grain is an infinitely renewable resource.
    2. The emissions would be fun to breathe. Anyone who ran the engine in a closed garage to commit suicide would just wake up later with a wicked hangover.
    3. No dependence on OPEC. Unfortunately we'll now depend on Ireland and Kentucky.
    4. Breathalyzers see double duty as automobile diagnostic tools.

    Some disadvantages:
    1. Legal driving age now 21.
    2. Winos constantly siphoning your gas tank.
    3. Much more expensive than gas, especially if you only use "the best" in your car.
    4. Unpopular in the much sought-after Mormon and Muslim markets.

    The search for alternative fuels continues...
  • barich1barich1 Posts: 87
    Another thing to consider is that these things are costing upwards of $40K to build, and they are selling them for $20K. That would seem like a good deal. And they don't have a lot of limitations either. They are a little bit smaller then the Civic and Corolla, but get much more MPG. It seems like the price difference would soon be made up by the lower amount spent on fuel, and may even pay for itself if you keep it long enough.
  • atlatl Posts: 7
    And if you out of "gas", and are totally soused, it'll run on your, um ... pee. Gives a whole new meaning to self-service.


    BTW, I've got Ted Kennedy on my speaker phone; he wants to know how quickly you can ship one to him.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    You can get a corolla LE (top of the line) for $15K. Say that the hybrid only cost $20K (probably closer to $25K), so the extra cost of buying a hybrid is at least $5000. Let's also assume it doubles gas milages (from 28 to 56, in reality the increase is much less). An average driver drives about 15,000 miles a year, so a corolla uses 535 gallon of fuel a year, while the hybrid uses 268 gallons. At $1.2 per gallon, it equates annual saving of $321. Now, average life expectancy of a car on the road is about 8 years, let's increase it to 10 years to be generous. So in those ten years, an average driver will save $3,210 in gas, but it still won't cover the $5,000 extra that he/she paid in the beginning. Not to mention that you are in a smaller, less crash worthy, and much slower car for 10 year. Do you think many people will buy it? Maybe some militant members of Green Peace will jump at this, but don't expect the vast majorty be willing to live at a lower living standard so they can hug a tree.
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    Where are the cars that run on fuel-cell technology? In fact, aren't we supposed to have flying cars by now?

    atl -- tell Ted we haven't built in submersible capability yet.
  • manchildmanchild Posts: 18
    Hybrid technology would succeed if it appealed less to our conscientious side and more to our decadent side.

    Case in point #1: The Chrysler Citadel. A few of you might remember this concept vehicle at the major auto shows earlier this year. The powertrain consisted of the 253-hp V6 in the 300M, which powered the rear wheels, and a 70-hp electric motor that powered the front wheels. The result? V8 power, all-wheel drive, and gas mileage a full 10 mpg better than the 300M. All in a big, stylish, comfy SUV-like wagon. Sounds better than the Prius, doesn't it?

    Case in Point #2: GM's EV1 Parallel Hybrid concept. A 1.3L 75-hp Isuzu turbo-diesel matted to GM's 130-hp AC Induction motor and combined with a 6.5 hp brushless DC motor/generator and a manual 5-speed tranny. All told, that system generates 219 horses. Now imagine a sleek, composite-body roadster with that kind of power. Sure, the Honda S2000 and BMW M Roaster get 240-hp. But can they get 80 mpg, or 550 miles on one tank of gas?

    To quote Bruce Sterling: "It's a question of tactics. Civil society does not respond at all well to moralistic scolding... However, contemporary civil society can be led anywhere that looks attractive, glamorous and seductive. The task at hand is therefore basically an act of social engineering. Society must become Green, and it must be a variety of Green that society will eagerly consume. What is required is not a natural Green, or a spiritual Green, or a primitivist Green, or a blood-and-soil romantic Green. These flavors of Green have been tried, and have proven to have insufficient appeal... The world needs a new, unnatural, seductive, mediated, glamorous Green. A Viridian Green, if you will."

    Sterling is a sci-fi author and the leader of the Viridian movement. You can read the rest of the Viridian manifesto and more at this address:

    http://www.well.com/conf/mirrorshades/viridian/
  • atlatl Posts: 7
    Hey, buddy, don't you know that literate, informative and insightful posts are not wanted here--they intimidate people. But I like the notion of appealing to our decadent side. And I know the perfect, decadent name for that EV1 roadster you envision -- the Viagra 1. Bob Dole's in line already. Or how about the Satyr?

    BTW, is the name Bruce Sterling or Rod Serling? He sounds like a swell guy and all, but I get a little freaked when people start writing "manifestos." I'm a Hempist (you know, Woody Harrelson's group), Nudist, Nihilist, Raw-Foodist, Luddite myself, so I'm cool with "movements", but ever since Teddy "Special Delivery" Kaczinsky, manifestos creep me out. :-)
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    I caught you using a smiley face!

    It's embarassing, I know, but sometimes it's the only way to keep your flippant remark from being interpreted as a heinous insult.

    Over in the VW Vortex forums (www.vwvortex.com) the message board software actually _replaces_ your colon-hyphen-parenthesis combo with a little graphic smiley face. It's truly horrifying.
  • atlatl Posts: 7
    I was gritting my teeth while I typed it. Now that he's been initiated, he ain't getting another one.
  • barich1barich1 Posts: 87
    This is getting way off from what it was supposed to be about: the Prius and Hybrid.
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    Yeah, we're just marking time until someone has something to say about the Prius. Keeps the topic from being frozen, ya know.

    How about you? Anything?

    Here's a topic: So that Honda VV is a two-seater, ennit? That might cause trouble for it, because people who want two-seaters generally want high-performance (see the Miata topic for continual arguments as to whether it's underpowered). Similarly, I would guess that the people who would buy a hybrid would crave practicality. As in more than two seats, plus decent cargo capacity. So who's going to go for the VV?

    I'll tell you the niche it could fall into-- Second car used primarily for commuting. You know, you take the VV while the wife takes the Lincoln Navigator. Is this what Honda is shooting for? Is the VV just Honda's stepping stone to building its own Prius? What is that crazy Honda thinking anyway?

    Discuss.
  • atlatl Posts: 7
    Easy there, pardner. I promise, ejs and I will make a concerted effort to adhere more closely to the mandatory topic parameters. BTW, did you have something substantive to add to help get us back on track, or did you post merely to voice your displeasure with our little frolic and detour?
  • hugobeckerhugobecker Posts: 45
    Think you'll find the Prius is decently sized. It's taller than a Corolla and actually feels quite roomy inside.

    As to price, yes they are expensive to build; the technology of having a shared output shaft between an electric motor, a genset, and an Atkinson cycle engine, is a bit of a marvel. You will want the extended warranty...
  • atlatl Posts: 7
    Oh, good -- I see ejs has already answered the call for relevant discourse. I agree with his "stepping stone" analysis.

    Discuss some more.
  • ejsejs Posts: 36
    So you've seen one in person. Where? Did you get to drive it or ride in it? Do you know whether they make as distinctive a sound as electrics?
  • hugobeckerhugobecker Posts: 45
    Yes I did have a chance to drive one. In CA a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lend a hand to a friend who would normally have covered it. Actually on acceleration I really didn't notice much of an unusual set of sounds. The Prius has some very interesting technology that I'm under some obligation not to discuss at his point.

    I will tell you that if you get it under very light throttle loads or under about 15mph, it goes into 'stealth mode'. The thing goes onto the electric motor only and gets real quiet. Managed to startle a pedestrian (on purpose, but I was kind enough not to lay on the horn as I passed).

    Several journalists have had extensive seat time in the Prius and some of their reviews are on the web. I know Tom Strongman in KC has had some time in one and his reviews can be found at http://www.kcstar.com.
  • barich1barich1 Posts: 87
    I think that a great idea would be to make a performance car with the Prius technology. It would go fast, but not use up as much gas as, say, the Viper RT/10. Another use would be in SUV's. I know they use up lots of gas. But that doesn't help the safety issue when a Ford Expedition meets a Camry or Taurus.
  • barich1barich1 Posts: 87
    But then I'm also getting off the topic too.
  • manchildmanchild Posts: 18
    I don't think it's too far off-topic to discuss other applications for hybrid motor technology. After all, we're asking if anyone would buy the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight (check their web site -- www.hondahybrid.com -- that's the new official name), so we should discuss *why* people may or may not buy them.

    Personally, I think a hybrid SUV is a great idea, and if Toyota put the Prius powertrain into a RAV4-type vehicle, it would probably sell a lot better in this country. This sort of marketing would work well for the outdoor types -- stop and smell the roses without choking them.

    This is why the timing might be bad for the Prius and the Insight -- the economy's good, gas prices are cheap, big SUVs are damn popular, and few are thinking too much about conserving anything. In this environment, the Prius and Insight will not sell well at all.

    Now here's a thought: Y2K could roll around, and fuel suppliers could get hit with glitches, causing gas stations to miss shipments and be hit with gas lines like in the mid-70s. Hey, it could happen. If it does, how popular would the Prius and the Insight be then?

    ejs: Bruce Sterling may be a little mad, but he's no mad bomber. Plus, he's got a point -- if clean, decentralized power is going to succeed, it needs to be attractive to people. Of course, the potential for electrical outages and power rationing in Y2K (still a possibility, folks) will make any form of decentralized power damn tasty, won't it?
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    Hmmmm.... Hugobecker said that at low speed the Prius goes into silent stealth mode. Cool, now we have stealth fighters, stealth bombers, stealth warships, and here comes the stealth eco-box. Hello folks, now that everytime your car slows down, you go into the stealth mode. So you can sneak around street corners unheard. And better yet, sneak up behind some poor guy at an intersection, since he can't hear you, WHAM! Instant pedestrian road kill. :)
This discussion has been closed.