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Saturn VUE Green Line - Real World MPG Numbers

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  • No one talks on this site and then there are 15 posts in less than a week. Go figure.

    A person feeling they are doing the right thing by being more "Green" is admirable and priceless. A person feeling they are saving a lot of money is not looking at the total cost. -- Kip
    I have looked at the costs, will use my numbers and you can be the judge.

    Since, I have driven the furthest and gotten the best documented gas mileage of any Saturn Hybrid Vue owner here is my bottom line on my BREAKEVEN point:

    Back in December of 2006 Hybrid Vue cost $2250 less that the Regular view.
    I received a $650 tax credit on my 2006 income taxes $2250 - $650 = $1600 difference.
    In the first two years of operation I have saved $1002.78 in gas. That figure is derived from the fact that the Regular Vue gets 5 mpg less that of the Hybrid Vue.
    Source = FuelEconomy.gov 2007 Hybrid Vue 23 City 29 highway 26 avg
    2007 Regular 4 cyl Automatic 19 City 25 highway 21 avg

    I have taken the 5 mpg difference, computed the savings for each tank and have added up the savings. As of 11/7/2008 my 59,095 miles equates to a savings of $1002.78.
    Source - my excel spreadsheet.

    $1600 - $1002.78 = $597.22 I still have $597.22 to breakeven. That should occur in the next 14 - 16 months based upon my current driving patterns and gas prices of around $2.50.

    Therefore, strickly on a cost/gas basis I breakeven in 3 years and a few months.

    However, that does not take into consideration that the resale value of a Hybrid Vue vs a similarly equiped Vue. According to Kelly's Blue Book = my Saturn Hybrid Vue would net in excellent condition $11,670 vs a similarly configured excellent condition 4cyl Vue at $8,655. A difference of $3,015.

    Therefore, if I sold my Hybrid Vue tomorrow I would would still be in the hole $597.22 but get $3,015 more. Therefore, I would net $2,417.78. Looking at the big picture I have already reached the breakeven point and continue to increase my value.

    In addition, one must also consider the environmental benefits. Using the 5 mgp better figure from Fuel Economy.gov - I have already saved 335.044 gallons of gas.

    If down the road the Hybrid will need a new battery I will be well on the positive side of the equation. The cost of a new battery and installation should be offset by my gas/cost and resale value benefits.

    Therefore -
    #1> BREAKEVEN Point has been reached regardless of if I need a new battery at 100,000 miles or not.
    #2> I am up $2,417.78.
    #3> I have saved 335.044 gallons in the process.
    #4> Not to mention I love driving my Saturn Hybrid Vue.
    :)
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    "Back in December of 2006 Hybrid Vue cost $2250 less that the Regular view."

    Did you mean to say the Hybrid was cheaper, or was that a type-O?

    If the Hybrid was cheaper, you would have been ahead with the Hybrid as soon as you drove off the dealer lot. Great deal! :shades:

    At present time the Hybrids are $27930 and the gasser 4 cylinders are $23050 MSRP. According to Edmunds.

    Tax credits and "dealing" have to also fall into the mix.

    Good Post!

    Thanks,
    Kip
  • Kip,

    Happy Veterans Day. Semper Fi. I spent 6 years in the service.

    Since you state you are considering a hybrid. Would I buy a 2008 Hybrid Vue? The answer is no. Saturn has significantly jacked up the price on the 2008 GreenLines. I think the payback is questionable on the 2008s. I also think Saturn has to demonstrate they have fixed the electical harness and battery problems that plagued the 2007s. Read my other posts. I am pretty darn hard on Saturn.

    I purchased my 2007 GreenLine using a discount. Also had 0% financing. Very significant discount on the extended warranty. Overall, I got a pretty good deal on the 2007 GreenLine. I like getting 26-28 mpg on the commute. I keep my cars 6-8 yrs. Ask me what I think of the Hybrid Vue in 5-6 yrs.

    The question is the price for plug-in hybrids that will be out in 2009-2010? What is hybrid surcharge and what will the payback point be?

    Sorry that you feel I am being dishonest about my comparison, but I stand by my evaluation.I really feel crammed into the CRV. It is very uncomfortable for me. Head room, leg room, shoulder room issues. Ergonomics? Usable room?

    This will be my last post on the issue.
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    chmsomm,

    Happy veterans day. :)

    I don't feel at all that you are being dishonest. As I said before, it is most likely a Perception is Reality thing. In this case it could have a lot to do with where you are seated in each vehicle and so forth. I apologize for anything that sounded like accusations on my part.

    Twelve years ago I bought a new 06 Dodge Ram Pickup. A few months later a friend bought a New 07 model with the same drive train. Of course we had to "test" them. It was pretty much a dead heat 3 times. He later had a fairly expensive "Cat Back" duel exhaust system installed and a K&M intake. His truck sounded good and seemed to have a lot more power, to both of us. Another "Test" resulted in my truck being a little quicker than his, 3 times. The exhaust tones and noisy intake gave the perception of more power. Perception!

    Please stick around and participate on the subject.
    I'm trying to make an informed decision. Without participation, it will be most difficult.

    Thanks for your insight on the 08 Vue

    What is/was the problem with wiring and batteries on the Vue?

    Thanks, :)
    Kip
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    You said 12 years ago you bought a 06 Dodge Ram Pickup. Did I just miss a few years as this is only 08 or at least I thought it was when I woke up. :confuse:
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    :sick:

    Apparently the caffeine had not kicked in yet when I wrote that!

    Please substitute the 06 and 07 numbers to 96 and 97. :blush:

    Thanks,
    Kip
  • Typo on my part -
    Back in December of 2006 Hybrid Vue cost $2250 MORE that the Regular view. The numbers in my situation follow my logic.

    One should run the numbers prior to making a decision. If the Hybrid is substantially more expensive and federal tax credits are considerably less or zero - those are factors to consider in your purchase. Back in 2006 the difference was small. Seems for the 2008 models that gap has widened.

    The issue Saturn had with was with a potentially faulty wiring harness. The fix was not intended to impact your hybrid operation one way or the other UNLESS your vehicle is one that has the wiring / alternator issue. To over-simplify, the wiring harness can intermittently mis-communicate with the alternator. The alternator says "I don't know what you're trying to tell me to do, so I won't do anything". That includes charging the batteries. The fix is a more robust harness to alternator interaction via the replacement harness. Again, I am over-simplifying, but hopefully now you get the gist.

    I had it replaced in March of 2007. I did not have any problems before or after the installation.
  • Saturn let us drive off the lot after we purchased the GreenLine in 2007, when they knew there were problems with the harnesses. Ours went bad in local driving, we had it towed from our house to the dealer. Nice to know they were willing to risk our lives to save themselves the cost of the replacement. Saturn later issued a recall for the harnesses. I was one of the people who filed complaints with the NTSB.

    I have not had problems since the electrical harness was replaced. Knock on wood.

    I will be taking my 2007 GreenLine in for routine service in December. At that time I will have have the battery examined (batteries were recalled due to voltage imbalance problems about 6 months ago?) when I take it in. The charge/assist seems to be fine at the present.

    Have not heard anything about the 2008s, hence my comments about not recommending one until word was out on correction of those problems (harness and battery).
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    Are these correct statements?

    The "electric" portion of the GL is to allow the gas engine to shut off for a predetermined time at stop signs, red lights and so forth, and the "battery" keeps the AC radio and other accessories operating.

    Forward or rearward propulsion of the car is dependent on the gas engine, and the electric motor is never the only source of propulsion..

    The purpose of the "electric" motor is to help the gas engine during acceleration , and help in re charging the "battery" while braking.

    Are those accurate statements? If not, please explain.

    Thanks, :)
    Kip
  • Yes those statements are accurate.

    The Saturn Vue Hybrid models 2007 and 2008 are based upon the BAS system - for belt alternator starter.

    Basically, BAS is a big motor-generator in place of the vehicle's normal alternator. The big motor can deliver 6.7 horsepower at speed, and 48 pounds-feet of torque the moment it begins to turn, according to Saturn. That's enough to run the gasoline engine by turning the serpentine belt — "fan belt" to old-timers — on the front of the engine.

    The Green Line's belt is wider and beefier than normal to handle the extra strain.

    Other hybrids link their gasoline and electric powerplants through the transmissions. Those vehicles use sophisticated computer programs and complicated transmissions to blend the gasoline and electric power outputs for smooth operation.

    Because the Vue Green Line's gasoline engine is always doing the driving — even when it's being spun by the BAS system — the transmission and powertrain controller can be simpler and cheaper.

    The Green Line's gasoline engine often shuts off when the vehicle is stopped longer than a moment, such as at a red light. No need to burn fuel when you're not going anywhere. The Saturn Hybrid can not drive soley on electric. It always needs gasoline to propel the car. The electric is used to assist the car.

    The moment you take your foot off the brake, the robust starter-generator turns the belt, which turns the gasoline engine and drives the vehicle for a second or two until the engine's fuel supply is restored and the engine is up to speed.

    For my 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid - the transition at stop lights from the engine running to off to running again is seemless. As for coasting and braking - this charges up the Hybrid battery. Also, when starting out - acceleration will also charge the battery.

    Hope that clears up the setup for the Saturn Hybrid Vue. By the way, I just notched another 34+mpg tank. Not bad for November.
  • Hi HybridVue,

    One funny story. I take our vehicles to the local gas station a block from work for routine stuff like oil changes and inspections. I have taken our automobiles there for 10 years.

    When I took my GreenLine in to the station for an oil change they couldn't figure out how it worked because it (engine, BAS, and battery) didn't look like a Toyota Prius or Ford Escape. The GreenLine would't move on the electric motor. They wanted to know why the gas engine kept coming on. Talk about confused mechanics. They had never even heard of a mild hybrid.

    I ended up giving a 30 minute course, which included a Q&A session on the BAS system.

    It was such a low cost alternative to a 2 stage hybrid when I purchased it in 2007. Better performace than a typical 4 cylinder, with better gas mileage. I sometimes wonder what the future of the BAS concept would have been if Saturn hadn't alienated so many customers following the electrical harness and battery issues.
  • To Chmsomm:

    That is a good story.

    You are absolutely accurate - it is/was a low cost alternative to a 2 stage hybrid back in 2007. With the marginal extra cost over the regular model and improved mpg's - those of us who weathered the recalls, learned to drive it to the fullest, made out very well.

    As with the EV some good ideas just never reach their full potential. In the mean time, may you have many more happy miles with your Hybrid Vue. (Mine will pass 60,000 miles on Monday and turn two years old next Month. :)
  • Great messages recently on this board. Glad everyone has some interesting stories to tell. Our GL has treated us well and we're very happy owners. I'd like to clear up one thing about the BAS operation discussed earlier--it does NOT run the A/C off of the hybrid battery. While in auto-stop mode, the battery operates accessories like the radio, the HVAC blower, lights, etc, including the auxiliary transmission pump and coolant pump in the hybrid electronics system. The A/C compressor is a traditional, belt-driven system that will come to a stop if "eco" mode is selected. Therefore, the air coming from the system will begin to become less cool as you sit in auto-stop mode. I find that it doesn't ever become "warm" and the eco mode is sufficient. However, we live in IN and don't experience horribly hot weather.

    Kip, I admire your efforts in researching cars prior to purchase. That seems to be a lost art anymore, and I feel it's important. In our case, we drive mostly in rural and town situations and only occasionally on the highway. Our total MPG since new, including ALL tanks, is 28.6 mpg. We have seen a low of 24.5 and a high of 34.9, which allowed a 539 mile tank range. This is within the old-method EPA estimates of 27 city / 32 highway, and we're very pleased with this mileage. I should also point out that my wife primarily drives the car, and may be a bit less careful about MPG than I am. She LOVES the car. We have roughly 32,000 miles on it and have had the battery and harness updates done. The car did experience loss of hybrid activity prior to the recall, but the car performed fine (just no assist). Our dealer kindly gave us a rental in spite of its ability to run normally. We have always been pleased with Saturn service. This is our second Saturn.

    I should also note that our GL was rear-ended recently and came away amazingly well. The other car was totalled, but the VUE only needed a new rear bumper cover, a little paint work, and a new tailpipe assembly. It's a strong little SUV. In terms of size, I think the CR-V and VUE are pretty close. I've ridden in both. I must honestly say that the CR-V's back seat was superior to the VUE's in comfort, but they had similar room. Fortunately, I rarely sit in the back. ;)

    Like chmsomm, we purchased our VUE at a good time, including 0% financing, a Pres. day incentive, and GMS discount. The price was MUCH lower than the 2008 VUE GL. Would I buy a 2008? Honestly, probably not. I prefer the polymer panels, the overall appearance, and better cargo capacity of the 2007. I'm also disappointed that the new model is assembled in Mexico while ours is a domestic product. But the real reason is price. I don't see it as such a good value anymore. That said, I haven't driven a 2008 GL (I have driven a conventional gasser 2008), so it may be better in some esoteric ways.

    Good luck with your choice!
  • kipkkipk Posts: 1,576
    tackepj,

    That was a very good and informative post!

    Thank You! :)

    Kip
  • This is an email I sent to Saturn:

    This is a technical question for someone working with Saturn's Hybrid Vehicles.

    I currently own a 2007 Saturn Vue GreenLine. Great gas mileage. 26-28 mpg in my 26 mpg roundtrip commute.

    There are currently solar chargers available on the retail market (2-5W) that can be plugged in to cigarette lighters to keep automobile batteries charged. Very inexpensive. $20-30. I was thinking of using one of these when my Vue GreenLine is parked to assist in keeping the battery pack fully charged, and therefore fully available for use in the assist mode.

    I have used small portable panels to charge 12v car batteries that I use for powering 12v astronomy equipment during the day (for night time use when I am in the field). They work reasonably well. In other words, they actually do help charge a free-standing car battery during a 8-10 hr day.

    1. Would one of these panels work with my Vue GreenLine to charge the existing battery pack during the day?

    2. Is the Vue GreenLine electical system compatable for this type of charging?

    Thanks
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,860
    Isn't the cigarette lighter operated off of the 12V battery and separate from the hybrid battery pack? Just my first impression, but I don't think you'd be able to send any charge to the hybrid battery pack through the cigarette lighter.

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  • It is a question of how the GreenLine is wired

    I don't have the schematics, so I dont know. I don't know where and how the voltage is regulated in the GreenLine.

    If current runs to the cigarette lighter when the vehicle is off (eg.cell phone charger) it may work.

    Some Prius owners are now using solar panels to help their batteries charge, even if it is limited. Again, I don't kow if they are hardwiring of if it is through the cigarette lighter.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,860
    Certainly it possible to solar charge batteries, but even if there is some physical connection between the hybrid battry system and the cigarette lighter, which I kind of doubt, you'd still have to go backwards through a voltage regulator. Just not sure if they have it set up to do so or not. Sounds more like a hard-wired modification that some Prius owners are using.

    There's an interesting video on plug in hybrids on CarSpace

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  • Oops, forgot to mention the GreenLine doesnt have a 12v battery. Just the battery pack.
  • Yes this is a good and cheap and easy way to use less gas, I have one for my 12v battery (yes the Vue has a 12v battery system). It helps get 2 mpg and better per tank. In fact I also am happy with it I am putting together a 36v solar charger for the Hybrid system.
    Just be sure you get the ones with the built-in diodes (to prevent back voltages) my Saturn dealer took 2 hrs checking mine to make sure it did not cause the 36v battery pack to fail. They did decide it was OK in the end.
    A 4 to 5 watt one is all you need.
    Look at this one: http://www.batterystuff.com/solar-chargers/BSSE6W.html
    or look around sometimes you can find them on-sale.
  • To Greenroger:

    Where did you place the solar panel? On the dash or do you have it permanently affixed to your roof?

    In addition, do you have it connected to your cigarette lighter when the Hybrid Vue is parked or is it connected all the time?

    Also, what Saturn Dealership had the knowledge to know if this would work or not? Mine barely knows its way around the Hybrid.

    My concerns would be overcharging the battery, shorting the battery life by constantly charging the battery and voiding the electrical warrantee on the Hybrid Vue due to a modification.

    According to the website - "Great for use for larger 12 Volt batteries that are seldom used or in storage, such as with antique cars, boats, RV’s or cottages." I question, if the Hybrid is used daily - how much is really gained by recharging the battery? I recharge mine by normal driving.

    Otherwise, it sounds interesting.
  • I simply mounted the 12v one on the dash with a little bit of velcro tape to hold it in place.
    It is connected to cigarette lighter through a radio shack 1 to 3 splitter http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062276&cp=&sr=1&kw=12+vol- t+3&origkw=12+volt+3&parentPage=search
    so I can charge my cell phone and GPS or one at a time with the panel unplugged from the lighter.
    I leave it plugged in most all the time, at 5 watts it does not have enough power to over charge the 12v battery.

    Yes my 12v battery also charges during "normal driving" using the 12v alternator (belt driven from the gas engine) but I had this solar panel that I used for my tractor since it would set for weeks between uses (never damaged it's battery), then I moved and sold the tractor (without the solar charger) and one day plugged it in my hybrid to see what would happen. After 12 tanks of gas I noticed it was getting +2mpg so I unplugged it and it went back down to the same MPG I would usually get about 28mpg. I guess that using the alternator less helps the gas mpg.

    Saturn did not help at all with setting up the 12v charger and wanted to charge me for the hybrid cells when they failed, I had to point out to them that the 12v and 36v system were totally separate. They never said anything about "voiding the warranty".
    Once I get the 36v system setup it should get even better MPG.
    The 36v system will be roof mounted and I will use a Charge Controller to not damage the saturn hybrid pack if I do continue to use it. I am also looking to replace it (last one lasted just 30,000 miles) I would rather use some good gel cells over the ones that saturn used. I am also looking at a 110 charger for the 36v system at some point, I have just been too busy right now to mess with it all.
    But with the wife out of the hospital now I may get busy...
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,784
    "charge me for the hybrid cells when they failed,"

    Wait a minute, are you saying that your hybrid traction battery failed?
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