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Hybrids & Diesels - Deals or Duds?

angrysouthernmangrysouthernm Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Toyota
There has been a lot of hype about hybrid cars and diesels. US News & World Report ran a cover story for May 9th edition titled: "Invasion of the Green Machines" Here is what Richard J. Newman, the story author, stated in his article:

"Hybrids, suddenly, are becoming the feel-good phenomenon of the decade. With gasoline prices at $2.23 per gallon, according to AAA--up 23percent from a year ago--hybrid sales have more than doubled so far this year compared with the same period in 2004. And some industry experts foresee a hybrid in every garage, though others think it could all be one big fad. It's no secret that hybrids like the Toyota Prius, which has both a battery-powered motor and a conventional gas engine--and averages close to 50 mpg--have earned cultlike devotion from a growing niche of conscientious car buyers. Now, a number of automakers, led by Toyota, Honda, and Ford, are betting that a new lineup of hybrids will become America's next must-have vehicles.

"A feisty Honda Accord hybrid--the fastest sedan in its lineup--went on sale late last year at a list price of $30,140. So far the company has sold more than 4,500, and the hybrid accounts for nearly 7 percent of all Accord sales. Last month, Toyota's Lexus division began selling the first luxury hybrid, the RX 400h SUV. Buyers snapped up nearly 1,000 in the first week, with an additional 12,000 on order. Those will join 8,000 hybrid versions of the Ford Escape SUV already on the road. All told, nearly 25 hybrids from a dozen carmakers are due in showrooms by 2008. Overall, hybrid sales will top 200,000 this year, according to J. D. Power & Associates, and some experts see nothing but open road ahead. Within 20 years, predicts Jim Press, Toyota's top U.S. executive, 'virtually everything on the market is going to be a hybrid.'"

Don't environmentalists and GreenPeace folks get too happy yet. Newman reported on less favorable news about hybrids and their future: "But J. D. Power forecasts that hybrid fever will cool off once the dual-powered vehicles hit about 3 percent of the market, probably around 2011. Pragmatic mainstream buyers may prefer to spend extra money on performance and comfort options instead of a feel-good power train. David Backman of Minneapolis looked at a Prius when he was shopping for a new car last year. But the computer specialist settled instead on a Hyundai Elantra GT. The mileage isn't as good, but he was able to load it up with a moon roof, leather interior, and other goodies, all for $9,000 less than the Prius. 'At 10,000 miles a year,' he concludes, 'I would never come close to recouping the premium.'

"GM's Burns sees other limitations of hybrids--under the Prius's hood. When Toyota introduced the second-generation Prius last year, GM joined the mad dash of consumers rushing out to buy one. But not to drive. Instead, GM engineers disassembled the car at the company's Vehicle Assessment Center in Warren, Mich., and laid the guts of the propulsion sys-tem out on a long shelf. One major discovery: The Prius's hybrid power train contains 42 percent more parts than the machinery that moves a similar-size Chevrolet Malibu. That, argues Burns, is too much complexity for the car of the future."

Car and Driver's editors ran some columns with arguments aimed against diesels an hybrids. Here's what Csaba Csere said about predictions diesels will take over: "But as the ever-skeptical Patrick Bedard points out in his column, modern turbocharged diesel engines are substantially more expensive than gasoline powerplants, and they face daunting technical challenges before they can meet the EPA Tier 2 exhaust-emissions standards that began phasing in with 2004 models.

"Notwithstanding wild claims that Dubya has 'destroyed the environment,' these standards are the strictest in the world, offering no breaks for diesel engines. In contrast, European governments—often credited with showing more concern for the planet than Washington displays—have not implemented emissions regulations nearly as strict as those currently taking effect here."

Here's what Patrick Beard said about diesels: "Americans could probably care less about diesel cars, but they'd have to try more. Only 40,224 were sold here in the 2004 model year, according to As a share of the nearly eight-million-car market, diesels round off to one-half of one percent. In other words: 'zero'"

Beard further argues that high diesel prices (higher than premium gasoline) for high-priced diesel cars won't sell. VW, the largest diesel seller in the USA, halted '05 and '06 Touaregs in March because the EPA did not approve of VW's emissions control.

Grump king Brock Yates touted the JD Power report on forcasted hybrids production for 2011 will only make up 3% of overall share with thirty-eight hybrid cars on the market. Yates also assailed some people particular: "Of course, the know-it-alls in the big media have instant solutions. Example: Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria recently touted some supremely woozy technology using 'plug in' hybrids with flexible fuel (15-percent petroleum, 85-percent methanol or ethanol) and—voilà! 500 mpg! Zakaria ignores the wallet-busting cost of producing, refining, and distributing methanol, ethanol, hydrogen, and other alternative fuels—a concept that has long since been hooted down by people who understand the harsh realities of energy production. If only these gasbags in the elitist press would do their homework."


  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,403
    Hybrid vs diesel is a real hot button topic and has already shut down some threads because people couldn't control their passions for and against either side.

    We'll see how this one starts off, but if the usual suspects drop in here firing the usual salvos, I don't predict a long life for this one.

    PF Flyer
    News & Views, Wagons, & Hybrid Vehicles
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Posts: 544
    It is impossible to call a hybrid a "deal," as they do not save money. While hybrids may yeild higher fuel economy, they cost more to purchase than a traditional vehicle. These initial costs are only offset by the fuel cost savings on a very long timeline, over a decade and/or hundreds of thousands of miles. Consider the "time value of money;" even if gas prices rise and the break-even point comes sooner, it is preferrable to have a large sum of money now (not paying the hyrbid price premium) than to have small amounts of money (buying less fuel) in the future.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    Hybrids vs. Diesels, redux. Can the world stand it?

    Count me in with the diesel crowd if they are available in 2007 with low sulfur fuel. The technology is much more established than hybrid designs.
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
  • ratbertratbert Posts: 22
    I'd love to go with diesel. The power (torque) is so nice to have. Plus most of my driving is on hilly windy backroads. I doubt I'd get the benefit of hybrid. Mostly drive 45-60 mph with few stops. I keep my cars for a long time (or many miles). I really only want manual transmission and AWD (on a nice car). That's key to me. Right now there is no option for that. I know there is in Europe. When I was in Madrid last time I saw an AWD Diesel 5spd VW Golf. sweeeet. :) I've always wondered why SUVs AREN'T diesel. It seems like such a natural fit. Look at the sales of the Liberty diesel.

    I don't think hybrid is worth the premium. $30k+ for a prius? No thanks. Slap a diesel in a Subaru and it's mine. I know that there are a lot of diesels in the works. More than hybrids. BMW said it's not a matter of if, but when they bring theirs to the US. ULSD is the key. July 2006 is the date for that.

    But I think if you do an unbiased comparison of hybrid vs. diesel, you'll find diesel most likely comes out ahead. Thay may depend on where you live, but out in the country in upstate NY where I live - it's diesel for sure.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    most of my driving is on hilly windy back roads.

    Welcome to the Forum. I'm with you on where I like to drive. We just bought a new Passat Wagon TDI and drove it from Portland to San Diego. We did mostly back roads down the coast then across to the Sierras. The diesel torque is what makes it a pleasure to drive. None of that peaky 5000 RPMs to get in the power band. Cruising at 70 MPH only 2200 RPMs with no degradation on the long uphill climbs. They offer the AWD Passat TDI in Canada. Maybe next year or so it will be brought to the US.

    I would love to drive up through the Adirondacks again. So pretty in the fall.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "None of that peaky 5000 RPMs to get in the power band. Cruising at 70 MPH only 2200 RPMs with no degradation on the long uphill climbs."

    Funny you should mention this. I was driving my fathers 2003 Town Car and happened to notice the RPMs at 70 MPH: 2200. And that was a normal gas engine (V8). However, he only gets 27 MPG on the road...
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    2003 Town Car and happened to notice the RPMs at 70 MPH: 2200.

    My Suburban is the same. Except it has never broken 20 MPG. 27 MPG is decent for a car that heavy I don't think a hybrid that heavy will match it. If you need a 6 passenger luxury car that runs on regular gas it is about your only choice.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > The power (torque) is so nice to have.

    Prius provides up to 295 lb-ft torque. That's more than some diesels.

    > Mostly drive 45-60 mph with few stops.

    Prius actually does better in those conditions than highway driving.

    > $30k+ for a prius?

    First, that price is clearly not average. Most currently only pay sticker.

    Diesel supporters are notorious for using extremely short-term data to make hybrids look expensive and long-term data to make diesel look clean. Choose one and stick with it.

    Long-Term is my preference. And we all know hybrids will cost less then.

  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    There was a point in time that I owned my Liberty and allroad at the same time. When it snowed, I always got into the Audi. Much more stable in the snow, especially with stability control. As to the 3.5V6 in the RAV, I doubt it can be any worse than the 15-16 MPG I got with the 3.7 Liberty.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    Prius provides up to 295 lb-ft torque. That's more than some diesels.

    Now that they are more available I will have to go and test drive the Prius II. We travel a section of Interstate 8 from the El Cajon Valley to Descanso. It is about a 3500 foot rise in 10 miles. That will be a good test. If it can maintain 75 MPH up that grade it will handle most anything you need.
  • ratbertratbert Posts: 22
    John - point taken on the cost of the prius. But we don't all know (as you put it) that in the future, the long-term cost of the prius will be less than a diesel. I have no way of knowing how well they will hold up at 200,000 miles. They just don't have the history yet and there are too many unknowns. Let's hope that time is good for it. I don't want to see hybrids fail. Anything that helps gas mileage is good. There is room for both hybrid and diesel.

    Still, it's a dead horse for me as I will only drive a manual and need AWD. I'm slowly getting used to running my '02 Outback at 3500 rpms in 3rd gear just to make it up the hills in my commute. Driving has to be enjoyable to me, otherwise it's a chore. Crank up the stereo and have fun for the 35 minutes to and from work! :D

    It's all about the whole package, not just economy and cost. I find the hybrids out there quite ugly (prius) or just plain boring/bland (civic/escape/highlander/accord). personal preference.

    People think of cars differently. I like a manual transmission coupled to an engine. I don't like fancy stuff in between. It numbs the feel of the car to you.

    And finally - I have to be able to rip out the crappy factory stereo and put one in myself. If I can't do that, then it's a deal breaker for ANY car.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    So... how exactly are non-hybrid diesels going to attract the average consumer?

    Jetta GL Auto TDI both accelerates slower and is less efficient than Prius.

    That mild clatter of the diesel engine is rather hard to overlook too.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    So... how exactly are non-hybrid diesels going to attract the average consumer?

    Simplicity, is the key that those that love the hybrid technology overlook. As complex as all new cars are, the hybrids are much more complex. It is easier to jump into a VW TDI and get good mileage than a hybrid. Not a lot of people like to "hyper-mile" it. If my driving was mostly commuting in town with a lot of stop and go the Prius would be on the list. I think it excels in that area. Most of my in town driving is less than 3 miles each way. Nothing but an EV does good under those circumstances. If you like to get out a drive the highways and byways as I do. It is hard to beat a modern diesel car. I suspect I will sell this 2005 Passat very soon and get a Mercedes E320 CDI. I need a little more luxury and don't want to give up the superior German handling. They are not noisy. They are not as quiet as the Prius in stealth mode. They are quieter when you are pulling a long hard hill at 75 MPH.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > hybrids are much more complex

    Though true with "assist" hybrids that add components, it is not with "full" hybrids... since the PLANETARY-CVT design actually eliminates some.

    Complexity is becomes a wash as the years proceed anyway. At that point, consumers turn to consumer ratings instead of analyzing design. And guess what, Prius already rates higher in reliability that the diesel Jetta.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    Prius already rates higher in reliability that the diesel Jetta.

    As you know 90 day ratings are all but useless. We have had lots of years to watch the VW TDI. The engine was not the problem. It was the electronics and wiring issues. The hybrids have a lot more electronics and wiring to go bad. The Prius IS being investigated for problems. More problems are coming to light. Such as catching on fire while sitting in a parking lot. I am waiting on that one to plays out. Supposedly no aftermarket devices were installed. What is the figure, 38% more parts than a comparable non-hybrid. Until they become very popular you will be tied to the manufacturers for parts. That is not the case with the VW TDIs. Complexity will not become a wash. It will lead to early dumping of vehicles to avoid paying enormous repair bills. That goes for all vehicles. Throwaway cars are not beneficial to our environment.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    Where the heck did 90 days come from?

    Prius has been on the road in the United States for 5 years. That's a decent amount of data to work with, and what the discussion is based on. Taking advantage of media hype based on a handful owners that haven't gotten their updates yet is clearly not constructive.

    That conjecture doesn't answer the original question either. Once again, how exactly will non-hybrid diesels attract the attention of the average consumer?

  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    "how exactly will non-hybrid diesels attract the attention of the average consumer? "

    Well I'd say with great amounts of torque on tap and great fuel economy at a sticker price that should be competitive with regular gas powered cars and below hybrid pricing. Should at least perk consumers ears.

    Especially in the US where "we" like automatic transmissions and low end torque ("we" generally don't like to rev our engines). Good match up.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    My understanding is the reliability award was based on the first 90 days being trouble free. I have not seen any other studies or information on reliability or longevity of the Prius.

    The attraction to the diesel cars is easy. They are much more efficient than their gas comparables. They would be selling in much larger numbers than hybrids if allowed in CA, and the 4 other wannabe states. My VW dealer here said that not a day does by without someone asking if they have the TDI version available. The service manager wants mine. With the Jetta and Passat it is a no brainer. The TDI version outperforms the gas version, and ULSD in San Diego is cheaper than the Premium required for the gas VW. When mine gets to 7500 miles I may sell at MSRP and get another one or a MB CDI. Plus VWs handle like a dream. I can't get my wife out from behind the wheel. She has not taken her Lexus out of the garage since we got the Passat TDI. You should test drive the 2005 Passat TDI, you may sell your Prius. I am going to test drive the Prius in the next few days.

    If you check on the website below, take a look at the 2004 Prius and 2004 Jetta TDI. "Average user MPG". The Prius average of 48.4 MPG is 12% below the EPA rating. The Jetta TDI is 46.4 MPG or 13% better than the EPA rating. The Prius gets very good mileage, under most conditions. So does the VW TDI. With all the gouging and shortages of the Prius, the VW TDI may be a good alternative for some folks. Although many VW dealers were charging $1000 over MSRP for the few available VW Jetta TDIs just 6 months ago. To me no car is a good deal at much over invoice. Use the internet and find a good price. Offer that to your local dealer. Let them know you are willing to fly across the country to save money. Send a message to all car dealers, we are not fools.
  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    Do diesel or hybrid powered cars count differently against CAFE than gas powered vehicles? If not, diesels would be a quick and easy way to boost CAFE averages since there shouldn't be any real re-engineering of the vehicle to put a diesel (that they would hopefully have available from another market) in.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    It would be an easy way for all the car companies to bring up their CAFE ratings. Unfortunately the CARB states are anti diesel. Until the manufacturers can get a clean bill of health on their engines they will not be sold. They will have to have a PM filter that will work for 150k miles. The current MB unit will not work with the fuel sold in most states. When ULSD becomes universal it will be easier to get that certification. Then most manufacturers will bring their existing cars to the USA. They are doing great with them across the rest of the world. We are just behind in getting low sulfur diesel. Though most countries are no better than we are. Only the EU and maybe Japan. What is interesting is Canada has many diesel choices we do not have. Yet they are not mandating ULSD until 2006 when the US starts using it.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    A diesel car in CA using the available ULSD is 3 times cleaner burning than the same car in much of the EU. So they are not really ahead of us. They just dropped from 350 PPM sulfur to 50 PPM in January 2005. Japan is behind the US and the EU on mandating ULSD. They have a much higher percentage of diesel cars than we do. That is probably a big reason they subsidized the hybrids, to help clean up their air. If you drive a diesel and can find biodiesel, that is even a better way to help. If we are going to use less fossil fuel, clean diesel is one logical way to save.

    In December 2001, the European Environmental Council announced an agreement to cap sulfur levels at 10 ppm in every EU state by 2009 (from today's 350 ppm level, with an interim level of 50 ppm starting in 2005). 14 While EU NOx emission standards for 2008 are considerably less stringent than the upcoming American standards (in fact, the average European diesel car will emit nearly eight times as much NOx as the average American car at that time, regardless of its fuel), the EU PM emission standards are comparable to the American standard. Both of the EU emission standards will require near-zero levels of sulfur in diesel fuel.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > The Jetta TDI is 46.4 MPG

    AUTOMATIC transmission Jetta TDI real-world averages are reported in the low 40's.

    That example is either a manual transmission or someone getting above average results (or just reporting highway-only warm-weather-only data). In that case, I could report the mid 50's my Prius is currently delivering.

  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    Many owners on the Jetta TDI boards report highway mileage in the 50s also. I am not sure your point. I think the Jetta and any VW is a better highway car than the Prius or any other small Toyota. It is more a matter of preference than pure MPG. If MPG was the important factor the folks that are buying the RX400h would be buying the Prius. They wanted more comfort and luxury, and were willing to take a big hit on mileage.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > report highway mileage

    The average consumer does not drive highway-only miles. So that mileage comment does not apply. Real-World driving is a mix of slow & fast speeds with a mix of stops & cruising. Show me data that applies to those conditions.

    > It is more a matter of preference

    Hence the average consumer preferring an automatic transmission. That is also why many owners find stealth so compelling, as well as the engine shutting off at stops.

    A non-hybrid diesel simply cannot compete.

  • seminole_kevseminole_kev Posts: 1,722
    "A non-hybrid diesel simply cannot compete."

    Compared to what? At what price (initial and long term)? For what task(s)?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    A non-hybrid diesel simply cannot compete.

    You are right that it cannot compete with the stealth or engine shut off attributes of a hybrid. It can and does compete on several other very important levels. I don't think the average driver is close to accepting the one car fits all, as you allude to. Not to mention the Jetta is safer than the Prius.

    ARLINGTON, VA, April 24, 2005 — The 2005 Volkswagen new Jetta earned good ratings in both frontal offset and side impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Plus the Jetta is the first vehicle to earn the top rating of good in every individual measurement category (injury measures, head protection, and structural design) of the Institute's side impact test. This car is designated a "best pick" for side crash protection, and it's a good performer for frontal crash protection. The performance of the Jetta in these tests plus its acceptable rating for seat/head restraint design in rear impact tests make it the top-rated car overall in the inexpensive midsize class. The redesigned Jetta, which is larger than its predecessor model, was introduced in the 2005 model year, and these results apply to the new larger Jetta.

    "The new Jetta was the first vehicle to ace our side impact test," says Institute president Brian O'Neill. "It's the best performer among midsize inexpensive cars. Its structural performance was better than the second- and third-best models, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. This new Jetta design shows what manufacturers can do to improve occupant protection in serious side impacts when cars are hit by taller and heavier SUVs and pickup trucks."
  • jonnycat26jonnycat26 Posts: 101

    Hence the average consumer preferring an automatic transmission. That is also why many owners find stealth so compelling, as well as the engine shutting off at stops.

    Stealth is great, and I love it on my prius...

    However... the Jetta is leagues better than the prius. The diesel clatter you mention happens only when the engine is cold. The Prius suffers from NVH pretty much all of the time. My Prius (package 9) cost 26K. My previous Jetta (1.8t) cost 24K. Guess which had the better interior? Guess which was more comfortable? Guess which wasn't full of plastic fantastic? Guess which had proper instruments and real controls?

    If VW offered a Jetta hybrid (Mild IMA like or Full HSD/Ford like), I'd jump on it in a second.
  • ratbertratbert Posts: 22
    AUTOMATIC transmission Jetta TDI real-world averages are reported in the low 40's.

    That example is either a manual transmission or....

    So an automatic gets, what 44.5? Is that low 40's to you? 42? Still it's great mileage.

    And if it is a manual, then great. You say it like it being used to distort the numbers. Manual transmission is an option, so why should it's mileage not count? In fact, it would be my option and not the auto. I think that the average consumer is being biased by availability of manual transmissions. I know too many people that drive an auto ONLY because there was no manual option in the car they wanted. Give them to option and they woul have picked manual. But that's another topic.

    The TDI is quite quiet and I wouldn't care if it sounded like a Mack truck. I don't need stealth mode. I want to HEAR my engine and feel it.

    And to my point about the prius being more complicated, it is apparently stalling on people while they're driving (moving). Apparently at either 35 or 65 mph. Sounds scary to me. The NHTSA is investigating it.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    The technology, along with the car's lighter materials and aerodynamic design -- its shape was inspired by a tropical fish -- allows it to achieve about 70 miles per gallon, according to the company.

    "This is a highly efficient, super-clean diesel that doesn't have any compromise in performance," said Dennis B. Fitzgibbons, director of public policy for DaimlerChrysler in Washington.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    I would also agree. However because of a lot of "drag your feet" regulatory factors, we have been loathed to get almost any of the the common place diesel models that have been available in Europe for a very long time.

    I think of late credit goes to VW for being the almost lone voice" in the desert so to speak" marketing their TDI products in the USA. I have read (might be true or not) that TDI's are app 4% of their product line. As most folks know, MB a while back sold diesels for a good while and then decided the market was too thin.The new MB E320 CTDI is quite the awesome machine. The other funny thing is it is almost tailor made for the USA road system.

    Also in the USA the TOTAL passenger car diesel fleet is app 2.3-2.9%. So indeed it is a very rarified population.

    In getting the Jetta TDI, I also compared it with with/against the Prius. The price was something like 28k vs 18k. It is hard enough getting B/E against a gasser Jetta. However I think that is a function of having to get more money for the low volume of TDI's more than any inherent cost difference.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    I'm with you. I bought the Passat TDI to encourage VW and others to give the US more options. The TDI in the Passat is only a $200 premium. We may get the E320 CDI on a European delivery. My wife wants to show me around Europe as I have always avoided trips there.

    The hybrid is not the only option in the world to save fuel. It is still unproven for longevity. When we have a quite a few hitting 200k miles with little or no trouble my viewpoint may change. When CA legislators become cognizant of the advantages of modern diesel technology the door may again open up.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    I had plum forgot about the Euro delivery plan. It would be nice again to be back in Europe, to break in a car without having to worry about speeding tickets on the Euro continent. By the time it is ready to ship, one might have more than the 7500 miles you need to register a NEW (translate: used/old) TDI in CA.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Historically speaking, for a new or alternate technology to supplant an old one, it has to perform at a substantially BETTER level than the old one, or has to demonstrate substantial and obvious benefits over the old one. (e.g., CDs vs. cassette tape as an example of a successful transplant, and solar vs. natural gas as a not so successful transplant).

    Since neither hybrids or diesels can do this against a 2005 highly efficient plain old gas engine, anymore than solar power can outperform the modern gas furnace, I don't see the market for these cars, either diesel or hybrid, being more than a couple of %.

    There simply aren't enough advantages at this time to be clearly and irrefutably demonstrated to the average consumer. Hybrids don't pay for themselves fast enough, and diesel fuels are expensive and not always readily available.

    If I had to choose between hybrid and diesel, I'd choose diesel because there is going to be nothing as old as last year's electronics. At least I'll be able to repair my 5 year old diesel without a PhD.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "By the time it is ready to ship, one might have more than the 7500 miles you need to register a NEW (translate: used/old) TDI in CA."

    7500 miles?? There aren't that many roads in Europe! Unless you are planning a 6 month vacation...
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    7500 miles is more of the miles you need on a new car to register it in CA as used. Oh the things you have to do to make it happen! :)

    It does need to be said that currently one in 4 (gasser) stations carry diesel. On the subject of "availability" I for one have NEVER had even remotely what I would consider to be a problem or lack of getting diesel fuel. I also came from that mindset before I got the TDI. Now the fact is there is a whole "alternative universe" on the road, but the fact of the matter is most of them are side by side with the gasser communities.

    Inlight of the emphasis on alternative fuels, then the so called environmentalist should stop the belly aching especially when even they do nothing about it. As for me, given the same price for fuel, I'd chose biodiesel in a heartbeat.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    There's no diesel in my town actually. I need to drive three miles to get diesel (each way) and I'm in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. And I've often had to exit a freeway and then get back on because there's no diesel at that exit on Highway 101 fer instance.

    it's no BIG inconvenience, but even at your odds there's a 3 in 4 chance you won't find what you are looking for.

    And besides it's stinky and gets all over your hands. Again, no biggie, a handi-wipe away.

    Not enough to discourage me from buying one. The price is more of a discouragement. It's more than or equal to, premium unleaded here in California (most places anyway). Biodiesel is, of course, even more than that.

    Besides, Bio isn't for everyone. A new Benz owner can't use it without voiding his warranty. That's no fun.

    So there is work to be done to make diesels competitive with gas cars I think. More stations, lower prices, cleaner fuel.

    These are certainly achievable goals.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    ...for a diesel pump, since the stuff's de facto outlawed for personal use. Diesel is much easier to find once you get away from the CARB states. All those pickups with Duramax, Powerstroke, and Cummins diesels have to fill up somewhere, and so do all those Kubotas, Massey-Fergusons and John Deeres. The gas station up the road put in a separate pump for off-road diesel a few years ago.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    And besides it's stinky and gets all over your hands.

    You should check out the BP/ARCO ULSD. I don't get that strong diesel smell and it evaporates quicker than regular #2. It is priced in So CA between regular and Premium. You only fill up every 600 miles in a Passat TDI. The power is so much smoother than the Passat gasser I test drove first. Also quieter at 75 mph. Times for diesel cars are a changing.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    The Marin, CA side (of this discussion) is indeed an entity unto itself. :)

    Given the figures of 1 in 4 fuel stations having diesel might sound like a problem,. In fact just because a unleaded gas station is close or even farther from you does not necessarily mean one will shop at it. So for example I have one #2 diesel station 2 miles R/T. But that does not mean it is my only or even most favored place to fuel. So in that sense the stations really do an interesting marketing game. So sometimes I go to one station for diesel, another for regular and another for 91 Octane. I think most folks probably do this some times or even routinely.

    I also would agree that from the consumer's point of view, more stations that carry diesel, the better. Not to plug Shell,but they seem to be aggressively putting in diesel pumps.

    While on the road, I tend to favor truck stops. This weekend I went down Highway 5 to Bakersfield and actually could have come back to the San Jose area on one tank. ( R/T a min of 520 miles) However the (lower) prices of truck stop fuel combined with a nature break, beckon me to refuel. Price was 2.28. With low gas prices of 2.23 in the San Jose area, this is a period where there was not a lot of difference in price.

    The bad news on the Marin side is: don't look for new diesel pumps anytime soon. :( With the price of real estate sky high and the new larger footprint required for a new concept fuel station, I am guessing the overhead doesn't pencil out.
  • dixonrdixonr Posts: 2
    I don't agree with the bashing on either side. I think both have there pluses. But John rather than beating your head against the diesel heads wall just point out that the Prius not only out competes but blows away the TDI in the market place. Prius outsells all Jetta's (gas & TDI), last few months. People are lining up for prius's. Why, I think it's for the new technology and the fad is catching on like the wave at a football stadium. Very few people by a car based on the cheapest per mile, and neither would win that battle. The Civic HX get's outstanding milage with much less complication in a reliable package, yet nobody want's it. Toyota has hit a homerun with the Prius, and will have them lining up for a hybrid camry as well.
    P.S. I do like the TDI and think as high milage vehicles both are well above the pack. :shades:
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    Where I live, diesel is harder to find and more expensive than gasoline.

    I'm also not convinced of the economics of a hybrid - by the time you've recouped your initial investment thru fuel savings, you're almost due for an expensive new battery.

    I'd stick with a conventional gasoline engine for now. I don't see a strong enough advantage for either one (diesel or hybrid) to make me want to get one at this point.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    Yeah, why would one characterize folks as knocking the Toyota Prius? I think if folks are willing to pay a premium (in my case app 8,000 MORE ) then its their nickel!!??

    But I think for most practical purposes MPG IS the reason for the shift!? Some would cite the decrease in emissions, but try getting a statistically significant reading in a Boston, MA rush hour scenario and it almost fads into total insignificance.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    I think it would be more useful in the discussion to put some borders, parameters etc so hopefully one can more successfully match the product to the task.

    Let me leap out with a commonly known statistic. The average yearly mileage is between 12,000-15,000 miles.

    Since the hybrid has a cinderella/cinderfella mileage frame of 150,000 miles for likely battery replacement this can mean 10-13 years. So one real question; can the batteries really last that long and or will it be warranted for that time? I read the Prius takes 20 batteries at 149 per or 2980.

    Compared to a gasser , this difference probably makes almost no "economic" sense. Some figures : 2004 Honda, 36-40 mpg, 12,500 vs Toyota Prius, 45-48 mpg, 26,000.

    My preference in the above case would be to get two Honda's or use the 13,500 difference to buy 6,054 gals of fuel (2.23 per gal) or 217,937 to 242,160 miles worth.

    TDI or diesel over a like gasser really makes sense over 20,000 miles per year. Between 12,000 and 15,000 miles it would be like a Prius purchase, discretionary at best.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,450
    Toyota has hit a homerun with the Prius, and will have them lining up for a hybrid camry as well.

    The Prius is a hit. I would not bet my last paycheck that the Toyota upper management is thrilled. What car did it take the place of. If it was an SUV purchase Toyota lost a bunch of money. If that person was going to buy a Camry or Corolla Toyota lost money. If they were going to buy from another company it was good for Toyota. As far as the hybrid Camry being a big hit. The other 5 hybrids are far from the popular Prius. They are being discounted after only a few months on the lot. The Honda dealer I talked to does not even stock the HCH or Insight. He had an HAH on the lot 10 days when I was there and was surprised that it did not sell. This is in hybrid country CA. Also to compare the TDI to a Toyota Prius is hardly a fair comparison. VW does not sell like Toyota. The biggest factor is CA does not allow the TDI. My local VW dealer could and did sell every TDI he was allowed up until January 2004. That CARB ruling has nearly killed his VW business.
  • ruking1ruking1 Posts: 19,826
    I would agree, Toyota is probably still losing money on the sales of the Prius. Also it is not too bright to KBAL or canabalize your own sales. This is especially true if you were going to purchase say a very high profit margin Toyota SUV.

    However, I think the overall issue as Gagrice alludes is that the marketing demographics are almost becoming like insurance actuarial data.
  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Posts: 544
    "Since the hybrid has a cinderella/cinderfella mileage frame of 150,000 miles for likely battery replacement this can mean 10-13 years. So one real question; can the batteries really last that long and or will it be warranted for that time? I read the Prius takes 20 batteries at 149 per or 2980."

    I can just hear the Toyota technician at the 115,000 mile checkup:

    "Yes, we know something is wrong; the computer is reporting battery system trouble codes.

    It could be one or more of your 20 batteries, we'll have to check them all. And all the wiring and circuits. We'll probably check the relays, etc. too...

    You're probably looking at 6-8 hours of labor, and figure between $200 and $600 for parts, for a ballpark of $1500..."
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    My whole point was only to suggest that neither diesel cars nor hybrids have any demonstrable, significant advantage over a 2005 gasoline engine compact car, right here, right now, not in fuel mileage, not in emissions, not in MSRP, not in utility.

    The ONLY advantage I could list is RANGE, by perhaps 10-20%.

    As for availability of fuel, unless there was JUST AS many diesel pumps as gas pumps (which there aren't) in the world, we'd have to say that the availability is not at parity with gasoline.

    SO WHAT DO DIESELS AND HYBRIDS HAVE TO DO if they don't want to be minor players in the marketplace?

    1. They have to beat a gas car's MPG significantly, given equal size and weight. 5-6 mpg better isn't going to cut it.

    2. They have to make economic sense vis a vis a gas car...the numbers have to justify the cost over that of a gas car. (We presume here that diesels and hybrids currently cost more to buy than an equivalent gas car and that you can't buy under $20K hybrids or diesels at the moment anyway).

    3. Diesel fuel needs to be cheaper and cleaner

    4. They have to demonstrate long term reliability and equivalent long term maintenance costs. (especially hybrids---VW diesels are...well...built by VW, and that's a problem right there, regardless of engine).

    5. They have to perform at gas car levels, for equal size and weight.

    I see #3 and #5 coming up quickly, but it's going to be years for the rest, and maybe never.

    I would add, more subjectively, that a Prius is not terribly pleasant to drive. It needs a lot of work in that department. Right now, it feels like "health food" felt when we first ate it years ago.
  • davem2001davem2001 Posts: 564
    As for availability of fuel, unless there was JUST AS many diesel pumps as gas pumps (which there aren't) in the world, we'd have to say that the availability is not at parity with gasoline.

    When I bring this up, hard-core diesel "fans" will always say something like - "you can always go to a truck stop" or "I never have a problem finding fuel"...but the point still remains, I can get gasoline anywhere. I don't have to make any special effort. Maybe someday diesel will be available everywhere you buy gasoline. Until it is, that is a disadvantage of buying a diesel.

    I definitely agree with Shifty, right now IMO, neither a hybrid or a diesel offer enough to compell me to buy one over a "conventional" car.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 171,273
    I live in the Midwest.. As a general rule, I only use Shell gasoline.. I probably have 5-6 stations in town that I use on a semi-regular basis..

    Every one of them has diesel.. Not only that, just about every station that I pass has a price for diesel posted, so I'll assume they have it, too...

    Shifty, since they don't sell diesel cars in California, I'm not sure you are the best judge of the availability of diesel..

    I'm not saying I favor or disfavor diesel, just that availability isn't an issue for the great majority of people that actually have access to new diesel cars..

    As far as diesel vs. hybrid.. At least diesel comes by it's efficiencies "honestly". It is purely the result of the drivetrain.. In all other respects it is a normal car. No low rolling resistance tires, lack of sunroofs, and queasy handling necessary to achieve the improvements..

    Not to mention: no dorky designs... oops..


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