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Hybrids the Real Payback



  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    90% of car buyers don't choose logically. Look at the car sales might think logically, and buy what you can afford, but MOST do not.

    Employees of mine making far less than $50K per year are driving brand new, Maxima's, Impala's, Avalon's and the like, top of the line models, leather seats, and surely costing as much as, if not more than $25,000. Go figure.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    hybrid payback, or any payback, is irrelevant!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,109
    I think you have many people that are living at home with parents and spend all their money on a car. Then you have the group here in CA that figure they will never be able to afford a home so they spend all their cash on fancy cars. It does not make for a healthy economic climate. I don't think people are keeping cars as long as they used to either.
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    We're drifting off topic, but I must say that IMO there is something tragically wrong if it is considered acceptable for an adult to be given a "free ride" by parrents while spending with wild abandon on cars (or anything else).
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    You have recently arrived to the discussions so here is the very quick summary of what were common misconceptions about the Prius.

    1) It is not comparable to the Corolla/Civic/Accent because it's bigger inside and has far more features than any of these others. Actually it is exactly the same size as the Jetta, both of which are in between the compact and midsized vehicles.

    2) There is no non-hybrid counterpart to the Prius. To compare it you have to look at a lesser vehicle or a greater vehicle.

    3) For basic transportation the Prius is not the right choice unless you want to drive the least polluting vehicle in mass production. A pre-owned vehicle is better for basic transportation.

    4) Batteries: There was a huge thread on this subject all of last year. There is no need to replace them at any specified interval. They are expected to last the life of the vehicle ( new technology ). Therefore there is no cost to the owner.

    5) The NiMH batteries are not in any way similar to the well-known lead-acid batteries in environmental concerns. In fact they have the footprint of a washing machine. The materials in them are non-toxic. But for good PR and to ensure proper disposal/recycling Toyota will pay a $200 bounty for every returned battery pack.

    Those are the reasons why you are wrong
  • daysailerdaysailer Posts: 720
    that items 1) & 2) are misconceptions.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Sorry. :(

    I am talking about twenty/30-somethings, some married with kids, most singles.

    One, who is making $42,000, married, one kid, just bought a new Z. Was complaining about the damn payments, lol. :P

    Many of them lease, and just turn it back in 36 months for another!
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    For matters of comparison, cars of nearly equal size and weight have always been compared. No matter the "features".
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,109
    There is no non-hybrid counterpart to the Prius.

    That may or may not have been the smartest move by Toyota. The way the TCH is selling I would say it was not a great move. The Camry has an audience of previous owners that seem pretty loyal. Selling them a hybrid version does not seem all that difficult. If Toyota builds up to the demand of the TCH, I would say it could surpass the Prius in one year. The Prius appeals to a very narrow audience. From reports there are many Prii sitting on lots since the incentive was cut in half. Sales at or near invoice are not uncommon. I think it is safe to say it has nearly run its course. Without the big tax credit and HOV stickers not many buyers are interested. The dealer I talked to about the new Tundra said his TCHs are all presold. He did have a Prius if I was interested.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    You are very correct about the Prius being directed to a narrow market segment. It is not a mainstream vehicle by any means and as it enters its 4th year it's just like most vehicles being somewhat discounted. One of the reasons is that Toyota has doubled production for the next year according to reports. But to Toyota the more they ship ( without incentives ) the better it is. If the dealers want/need to discount them, well that's a local issue but to Toyota it's still a 'full sticker deal'.
    The goal last year was 100,000 ... 107,000 sold
    The goal this year is 100,000 ... on track I believe
    The goal next year is 115,000?... TBD

    But one thing is certain there are a lot of current owners chomping at the bit to see what the next iteration will be in Oct 2008.

    The TCH should match the Prius numbers next year at about 8-10,000 units a month ( KY + Japan ). If the demand pushed it to 200,000 units, why not? They are looking to add 200,000 units of capacity at the Subaru plant in Indiana. This could be all standard CE/LE models with all the hybrids staying in KY.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,109
    But one thing is certain there are a lot of current owners chomping at the bit to see what the next iteration will be in Oct 2008

    I am sure there are. They may all buy a new one. The TCH has a much better chance at going mainstream. I don't see Toyota expanding the hybrids to the extent they say they will. I think they like testing the waters with their high flying Lexus toys for the nuevo rich.
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    Prius. I thought I read recently that the novelty factor is not so big anymore and that they are now being discounted from MSRP unlike the last couple years.
    I think it is a false economy, buying a Prius. If you use your air conditioner a lot you will not see much savings in fuel mileage. That's because the gas motor runs anytime you need the A/C compressor. That's what I read anyway. Also, the cost of repairs and/or replacement of the battery pack may be very expensive and service may not even be readily available away from big cities.
    If you want to buy one because you think you are saving the environment somehow, go ahead. But if you are buying one to save money, you may only be kidding yourself.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Okay - the GX costs less than the Prius, new or used(especially used).

    And the fuel costs the equivalent of **$1.20 a gallon** fueled at home, or 80mpg equivalent to the Prius. Average. Even bought "in town" - it works out to 55mpg. And it gains all of the same carpool advantages as well as pollutes a fraction as much.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,006
    I don't think the Civic GX is workable for most people, especially in suburban or rural places. I never even heard of it or saw one on a lot. As for regular cars, the Prius will get the best mileage in the city, and most people who have them love them, if you can afford them. If not, the Honda Fit gets around 30 mpg even in city driving. Versa and Yaris are less but better than what you have, and all three are under 20k. What size car do you need? If you are looking at a Prius, any of the other 3 would work as well. Also a regular Corolla or Civic.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    They are available, though you have to order one.

    - They pollute less.
    - They get about 30mpg per equivalent amount of BTUS(energy) consumed) compared to gasoline.
    - The engines last nearly forever and have virtually none of the typical problems of a gasoline engine.
    - No batteries to eventually pollute the environment. In fact, the GX actually puts out *cleaner* air than it takes in in most urban areas!
    - It offers the same access advantages
    - Fuel costs 1/3 what it currently does here in Los Angeles. Since natural gas is regulated and heavily subsidized - even offering lower cost plans to the poor(!), it's virtually immune to major price hikes, since any major movement will result in 30 million old people calling congress.
    - The only tradeoff is a 200 mile range between fillups. but you can get a device that allows you to fill from your garage every night.

    I don't drive to work more than 200 miles - shoot, maybe that in a WEEK. It works perfectly well as a commuter car.
    They say California and New York, but it's possible to order one directly from most any dealer. Lots of used ones can be found as well.
    This page is good as well - yes, 95 CENTS a gallon equivalent.
    Locator run by the DOE.

    Every major city has them because the local busses and vehicles they use tend to be CNG as of late - and they are mandated by law to allow/sell fuel to CNG passenger vehicles at those locations. There are 191 locations in California alone.
  • Ok, let me start by saying that I just purchased a Prius a couple days ago because gas is $3.50/gallon and you can now buy a Prius for invoice. Paid about $24k. Even got Navigation, bluetooth, etc etc. Can't think of many cars you can buy for $24k with nav. Let alone 50mpg+.

    As for the AC and no gas savings, that's just wrong. The AC runs on the ELECTRIC system. As long as you have a sufficient charge, the ICE (gas) engine stays off. So far in 93 degree heat and 70 mile commutes, I'm averaging 49mpg. That's a HUGE improvement.

    On the subject of battery replacement, that's yet to be seen. Toyota offers a 7yr/100k warranty on hybrid system, so that's a piece of mind. I have yet to hear from an owner who has had to replace their battery. (this could be because the segment of owners with 100k+ miles is still low)

    Think about this though. At 100k miles, ALL cars need maintenence. My Infiniti was a $$$$ to maintain. Belts, spark plugs, radiators, brakes. Those aren't FREE on any cars. The hybrid is not exception.

    Do the math: I drive 15,000 miles/year.
    Old car - 20mpg. 15k/20 = 750g/yr
    New car - 50mpg. 15k/50 = 300g/yr

    Premium fuel for old car = $3.50/g * 750g = $2625/yr
    regular fuel for Prius = $3.30/g * 300g = $900/yr

    I'm saving ~ $1725/yr in gas alone! Over the next 7 years, that's $12,075 I have saved.

    If a battery replacement at 7 years is $3000, i'm still ahead by $9000+

    To me, it's completely worth it.
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    Yeah, I get it. But you are not really being fair in your comparison.
    You are comparing your old car to the new Prius. But what kind of car was your old car?
    A better comparison might be comparing a new fuel efficient ICE car to a new Prius. You could have bought either. That is the true comparison to be considered.
    How about comparing it to a Toyota or Honda or Hyundai or Nissan, each with only an ICE?
    And don't tell me about no navigation available in them. If you really have to have one, you could get a portable.

    So the A/C runs off the battery so long as it has sufficient charge? That's probably not for long when it gets hot. Your gas motor is running most of the time you have the A/C on. You are getting good gas mileage on long commutes because the gas engine is pretty efficient, not because of the electric motor. The electric motor helps out in town a lot I'm sure, so long as the battery, is sufficiently charged, but it just does not stay charged for long with the A/C on and no ICE running to charge the battery.
    But really, I'm glad it's all worth it to you.
  • jdkahlerjdkahler Posts: 50
    We own a Highlander Hybrid (same electric AC and other functions as Prius) and it does better on mileage in summer than winter, with AC running, for a number of factors. It's important to note that the ICE is only one of the ways that the batteries are charged, in city driving there's often sufficient braking and downhills to have regenerative braking do the charging, with the ICE called on when the motor/battery are not sufficient to move the vehicle. On a drive around town today I happened to be watching the charge/run on battery/ICE gauge and due to the route I was on, with a little easy on the accelerator, the ICE was off a good deal of the time. The Prius is much lighter and gets much better mileage than the Highlander (since it needs the ICE less to actually move the car), but the physics are the same. In general with the HH, with AC on the ICE seldom if ever has to run at a stop, including stopping for 5-10 minutes at convenience stores and such where the HH is left occupied with the AC on for the comfort of the passengers.
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    What gas mileage are you getting in summer vs. winter? And what reasons do you think explain why its better in winter?

    My point was that a Prius getting 49 MPG on a 70 mile commute (with or without A/C on) is not so fantastic as to justify many thousands more in purchase price. There are non-hybrids doing that too (or very close to it).

    Yes, I understand about charging the battery by going downhill and coasting, but most drivers who go downhill and coast also have to go uphill and accelerate. It is the uphill and accelerating which drain the battery. And if the battery is also being called on to run the A/C in hot weather that ICE is going to be on quite a bit of the time. I am not surprised that the ICE is not needed with A/C on at a stopsign. That's because the batteries are ONLY being used to run the A/C but not power the car then.

    There still ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
  • jdkahlerjdkahler Posts: 50
    Mileage - 26-27 in mostly city/short distance driving, on the road in the past this has been 28-30. Yes, not the best you could possibly do in a vehicle, but in comparison with similar vehicles of similar size, carrying capacity and weight it's about 20% better. and it's 10-12 mpg better than the van it replaced.

    Since we've had the HH for almost 2 years and been involved in these discussions that long, if someone is looking at pure dollars saved vs cost of a hybrid may not be the best choice. But if you add in lower emissions, better mileage than equivalent vehicles and personal factors (driveability, features, etc.) then the total package, in this case anyway, is what we believed to be an excellent choice. But we also buy 100% wind generated electricity, which is more expensive than conventional, since we perceive the overall value to be greater.

    A little more on hybrid function, we're both oversimplifying the battery/ICE function. In city driving, there is typically enough stop and go to keep the batteries charged, which means they can step in any time the ICE is not needed to move the vehicle. This means stops, downhills, even from time to time accelerating and moving in traffic. So fuel use then is 0. If this was a non-hybrid the engine would be running in all cases, using fuel. Note that some hybrids need to run the engine for some functions like AC that Toyotas do not. When the ICE is needed, Toyota runs it in the range where it is at its most efficient, and the motor is used to provide assistance when practical. In the case of the HH, Toyota decided to program the vehicle to use the motor for power/torque more than fuel efficiency. Still, the Highlander Hybrid does better than the non-hybrid Highlander, and when you do a true feature to feature comparison the Hybrid premium, at least when we bought, came to something like $4-5000. Over the 7-8 years we hope to own the HH, that comes to a premium of about $5-600/year, and at current use and price of gas I estimate we save about $355 over an equivalent non-hybrid Highlander. So the premium isn't all that much a year, the fuel savings are real (meaning it's that much less oil we need to import and I pay for at $3.10/gal+) and the air is cleaner. Just like the wind power, it's a premium we're willing to pay. Oh, yes, 3 years ago we also moved to within a 20 minute walk, 4 minute drive to work, reducing the commute from 45 minutes/30 miles.

    We all make choices for a complex number of reasons, to bring it to a simple "I might not get back the higher immediate cost by not saving enough on gas" may be a good reason for some to not buy a Prius or other hybrid, but that's just for some. For those who have chosen a Prius, Highlander Hybrid or other vehicle, it should be what works for them, and it should be a fully informed decision with input from many different viewpoints. Then, to each his own.
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    But why do you get better fuel mileage in summer than in winter? And how much is the difference?
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    Using the new more accurate 2008 EPA measuring standards, if you compare a 2007 Prius to a loaded 2007 Hyundai Elantra you'll save about $675 a year on gasoline (based on 45% highway driving, 55% city driving, and 15000 annual miles when regular gasoline costs $3.22 per gallon) with the Prius.
    The Prius rating is 48/45 EPA mpg city/highway.
    Elantra is rated at 25/33 EPA mpg city/highway.
    The Prius cost you $24,000 with nav. The Elantra Limited, loaded with automatic transmission, leather seats, sunroof and a portable nav unit can be had for about $18,000.
    So after about 9 years of driving (133,000 miles) you'd just then break even on the cars. Until that point, the Hyundai would be more economical to own and operate so far as purchase price and fuel costs go.
    As for warranties, the Prius has 3/36 and 5/60.
    The Elantra warranty is good for 5/60 and 10/100.
    That means (for the Elantra) 5 years/60,000 miles bumper to bumper, and 10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain. Warranty info from
    My guess is the Prius will cost much more to maintain and repair during those 9 years of driving.
    In 7 years you figure you'll save $12,075 with the Prius.
    In my more fair comparison you may find you'll spend $12,000 more with the Prius.

    Anyone else see it my way?
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    You forgot tax, registration, insurance, financing, and so on on the more expensive car. But you do get HOV access in some areas with the Prius, which can be a big deal to some people.
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    So then moneywise, the Prius is even a worse deal than I was guessing, right? Maybe a Prius would cost a person $20,000 more over seven years. Or maybe $14,000? Or $16,000. Depends a lot on what repairs will be needed on the Prius after the warranty expires.
    I just can't see any way the Prius is a money saver over a fully loaded Hyundai Elantra. And the Elantra has more space inside too.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I'd say that the figure is maybe the price difference plus 3-4K. There's a reason that Honda is skipping its Accord hybrid and going to the diesel instead. Same efficiency and loads less total cost to own.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,109
    There is also a price the automakers have to consider. They are forced to warranty the hybrid system and battery in CA for 10 years. That is a long time for those components to sit in the hot sun and continue to work. Most people only consider the 150k miles which is not the real test.
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    NO internal combustion automobiles get 49 mpg. There are NO i.c.e. cars even EPA rated at 49 mpg.

    The regular Honda Civic is rated for 40 mpg on the highway, but NOBODY gets that kind of mileage. That's based on the flawed EPA testing, which uses a top speed of 50 mph, accelerates at only 3 mph per second, doesn't factor in stopping or slowing, and uses no air conditioning.

    The EPA has revised its testing method, and will publish new figures for the 2008 model year. You can see them now at They're all 10-20% lower.

    So, the 49 mpg the Prius owner cites is not only superior, but it's a real-world number. My new Honda Civic Hybrid averages 47 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. No standard cars can match those numbers.

    As for the apples-to-apples comparison, a Prius vs. a Corolla or a Civic Hybrid vs. a regular Civic -- the payback for the hybrid is 100,000 miles with gasoline at $3 per gallon.

    If you drive 12,000 miles per year, that's an 8 year payback (probably not worth it). If you drive 25,000 miles per year, as I do, it's a 4 year payback, and definitely worth it. And if gas goes to $4, that payback will be less than 3 years.

    As for maintenance issues; there aren't any. Toyota has been making the Prius since the late 1990s. Honda released its first hybrid, the Insight, in 2000. Both models continue to run nearly problem-free to this day. The technology has proven itself.

    But here's the real issue: OPEC keeps limiting oil production, market traders keep driving up gas prices despite increases in inventory, and the government prohibits new refineries, forces the existing ones to shut down twice a year to change formulas, and offers $100,000 tax breaks to gas-guzzling truck owners.

    The entire system is rigged.

    We hybrid buyers simply choose to give our money to innovative car companies that offer the best engine technology and efficiency, rather than giving the same money to a cartel of oil producers, refiners and government taxing authorities who all work in collusion to keep the price of gasoline high and automobile fuel efficiency low.
  • joe131joe131 Posts: 996
    Prius is rated 45 on the highway by EPA.
    Hybrids need maintenance and repairs too.
    Many owners of ICE cars do report 40+ on the highway.
    Honda Civic Hybrid is rated by EPA at 40/45 city/highway. Since you average 4-5 mpg higher than the EPA number, why do you doubt ICE owners when they say they get 40+ on the highway?
    The example stated earlier of Prius vs. Elantra is not flawed so far as I can see. What objections do you have about that?
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    If a Prius can get 45+ mpg on the highway why wouldn't a standard ICE be able to do the same? Isn't a Prius running strictly off it's ICE during long stretches of highway driving?
  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    "Many owners of ICE cars do report 40+ on the highway."

    Certainly, owners of the only four standard cars rated at 40 mpg highway -- Toyota Yaris, Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mini Cooper -- MIGHT match the old EPA rating IF they drive at 55 mph on a flat road with no traffic and don't use the air conditioning. But how often is that?

    My 47 mpg is a real world, city/highway combined number. That's what I average everywhere I go -- stop and start traffic in the city, and 70 mph on I-35.

    The Prius owner's 49 mpg is quite believable, too. Toyota has a better hybrid system than Honda, and consequently gets better mileage. Unfortunately, the Toyota doesn't have enough leg room for me, and the Honda does, so I bought the Civic.

    "Prius is rated 45 on the highway by EPA."

    That's the REVISED 2008 number. The original rating was 60 mpg. The 40/45 rating for the Civic Hybrid also is the new one. The original was 49/51.

    I know that I get 47 because the engine's computer calculates and displays my mpg every 10 seconds. The Prius has the same feature.

    "The example stated earlier of Prius vs. Elantra is not flawed so far as I can see. What objections do you have about that?"

    My main objection is comparing a Toyota to a Hyundai. It's an apple-to-orange comparison. The post immediately following this one compares a Prius to a Corolla. That's a Macintosh apple-to-Granny Smith apple comparison.

    The only TRUE hybrid vs. i.c.e comparison is the Honda Civic vs. Civic hybrid. They're exactly the same body styles, interiors and levels of comfort. The only difference is the propulsion system. And, as I stated in my previous post, the payback is 100,000 miles with gas at $3/gallon.

    Now, we're all going to drive 100,000 miles by some point in time. The only question is who will get our money as we do -- OPEC and their co-conspirators, or a car company. I choose to give my money to Honda.

    BTW, the IRS allows a $2,100 income tax credit for Civic Hybrid buyers. A true comparison has to factor that into the price vs. payback debate.

    "If a Prius can get 45+ mpg on the highway why wouldn't a standard ICE be able to do the same? Isn't a Prius running strictly off it's ICE during long stretches of highway driving?"

    Hybrid cars use their electric motors in all phases of driving. During acceleration from a stop, climbing an uphill grade, etc. the battery kicks in and saves gas. Then the battery recharges itself during deceleration and coasting down hills.

    Cars require a lot of power to get moving, but very little to maintain that movement. So the gas/electric hybrid is the perfect mix. And as battery technology improves, so will the mpg ratings.

    Toyota will offer an improved Prius for the 2009 model year. Expect to see increases in efficiency and passenger comfort.

    Even Hyundai plans to offer a hybrid Accent for 2009. I doubt it'll be comfortable, but I'm certain that it'll be inexpensive.
This discussion has been closed.