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



  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,294
    I believe that in 30 or 40 years, hybrids will probably be the norm. We can't be consuming all this fuel and polluting the atmosphere forever. The gasoline engine probably won't go away entirely in our lifetime. Who knows? Maybe a new source of automotive power will appear on the horizon in that time?

    I think the Prius and Insight are technological marvels, but believe the Prius will do better in the market due to the fact that it can seat 4 instead of two. However, the Insight is more attractive. I actually got to see an Insight on the PA Turnpike when it first came out. Still, hybrid and electric vehicles are still pretty rare and probably driven by the ecologically-minded and technophiles.
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    "Still, hybrid and electric vehicles are still pretty rare and probably driven by the ecologically-minded and technophiles."

    Lemko, you're right on this one. According to a Toyota Motor Sales, USA representative, as soon as they see consumers moving from mid-size mainstream cars over to the Prius as opposed to the environmentally conscious and compact/subcompact owners, they will boost production from 12,000 a year to over 100,000.
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Chevytruck fan: Read the latest Autoworld Weekly. Dodge is coming out with a Dodge Ram Contractor's Special Hybrid. It is brilliant. The electric motor brings gas mileage in the 3/4 ton pick up to 18 city 23 highway. And here is the kicker: the electric engine converts to a generator when the truck is parked. And not just an accessories generator, but a generator capable of powering a large house.

    Construction workers, farmers, campers, and others who need to generate electric at remote sites now do not have to pop an extra 5 to 15k for a generator. Their truck is the generator. Plus the buyer gets the tax break for buying a hybrid.

    The environment gets two benefits: One, the improved mileage and lower pollution from the truck; and Two, the truck engine is subject to the clean air act while generators are not.

    Those who drive trucks purely for the image may not care about this brilliant development. But those who buy trucks because they actually need them will probably flock to this new product.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    to a site that covers a new electric car that does 0-60 in less than 5 seconds, the 1/4 mile in low 13s and goes 100 miles on a recharge. I have the link at work, I'll have to remember to post it here. Amazing.

    The Prius just got a real nice review in Autoweek, by the way. Just wish they'd put some sex into the sheetmetal.
  • ineto6ineto6 Posts: 161
    not California friendly. I do like the Prius. Just saw a brand new one on the road the other day. I've seen several Insights already. You can't just say that only environmentalist would drive those cars. There are those who want to be different and daring.
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    Some people will buy them just for the technology itself. The Prius, without a doubt, is the most technologically advanced automobile on the road today. Nothing else is even close. From a technological standpoint, the Prius offers the most bang for the buck of any car.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    Looking at the Gas milage reported by Edmunds doesn't the Prius get 45 MPG on the highway? Doesn't it use a Battery electric and gas powered engine and cost almost 20 grand? And looking in the same site doesn't the Chevrolet Metro get 41 or 42 on the highway? And cost about 10 grand? Just in case I missed it doesn't the Volkswagen Golf turbo diesel get 49 MPG on the highway? Isn't the Volkswagen about $17,400.00 ? So how advanced can this hybrid be? I believe I once read that Battery production produces more pollution than it saves so is that being green? And when you have to dispose of a Battery isn't it toxic waste in most States? I wonder if giving up 4 mpg to the Volkswagen is an advancement? Or spending $10,000.00 to get an extra 3 or 4 mpg over the metro is an advancement? Everyone in this room realizes that hybrids are a compromise. We also know that they are a stop gap measure till the real alternative fuel or alternative power cars are made. The EV-1 didn't use any gas. But think of disposing of all those batteries? A car that goes 100 miles on a charge would be nice, unless you had to go 150 miles and it took 3 hours to charge. For right now I would say, nice try but no prize. The Volkswagen and the Metro may not be the kind of car I am looking for, but at least I would only have one kind of engine to maintain. For a hybrid to become popular it would have to cost less, or last longer, or preform better or something or people wont buy them. I have read that Toyota and Honda lose money on every hybrid they make. How many do you suppose they are willing to see for less than they cost to make? If that is the case. Remember most commuters spend most of their time on the highway, not in the city. So fuel milage should reflect the target markets driving habits.
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    Your response is not atypical of a skeptic of hybrid cars, but they're not entirely based on the truth.

    1.) I have the full schematics of the Prius right in front of me, and if you had them, you would not be questioning that this is the most technologically advanced vehicle in the world.

    2.) Yes, Volkswagen diesels get excellent fuel mileage and I'm not against diesels except for the fact that they don't meet California emissions standards. Diesels actually meet ULEV for CO and HC but are off the charts for NOx and particulate matter, the latter of which is carcinogenic. Yes, Geo Metros get good gas mileage but nobody buys them and the 3 cylinder performance isn't anywhere close to a Prius. Also it only gets 30 city 34 highway since they discontinued the 3-cylinder.

    3.) I wasn't equating technological advancement with fuel economy, you were the one who are trying to compare apples to oranges. That's like asking does a 6-disc CD changer make you go faster from zero to 60. For the record, the Geo Metro at best was a LEV and the Prius is a SULEV and there's a HUGE difference, there.

    4.) Battery disposal is a problem but the batteries in the Prius are warranted for 8 years and 100,000 miles. I even believe they are partially recyclable.

    5.) The Prius is a compact and the Metro is a subcompact, so it's not fair to compare their prices. To be fair, the Prius needs to be compared with the Corolla and Civic, in which case the incremental cost is around three to four thousand dollars. There is also talk about tax breaks and incentives for hybrids which would narrow that gap further.

    6.) Yes the Prius gets better gas mileage in the city than the highway. True, most people spend their commutes on the freeway....stuck in traffic on freeways that are not at free flow conditions.

    7.) Hybrids are not a compromise for anything except in heavy-duty applications (even though they're used in transit buses). Take the Ford Escape, for example. The 2003 hybrid escape will have the performance of the V6 with the fuel mileage of the 4-cylinder. Same goes with the Dodge Durango. Other than price, where's the compromise.

    8.) Toyota does not lose money on every hybrid it sells (I don't know about Honda). Toyota Motor Sales, USA has indicated that from a manufacturing perspective they break even and they are committed to the technology. It's too difficult to measure R&D costs because they will be reaping the benefits of this vehicle for decades to come.

    9.) You are welcome to voice your opinion on the market for hybrids, but quite frankly it's too early to tell how they will do in the market so all you can really do is speculate based on your information which, to this point has not been very good.

    You're more than welcome to be skeptical about it, just know a little more about the technology before you do so.
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    abbanat: I do not want to take sides in the argument of which technology is more advanced. But does not boaz47 make a good point that alternative fuel (such as hydrogen) cars would be the preferred technology if people are to continue using personal transportation?
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    Absolutely, from an environmental standpoint, hydrogen is the best option. But it is not an option now and may never be, so it's not wise to count our chickens before they've hatched. There are some incredibly talented people around the world working on hydrogen storage as we speak and trying to make it a reality. But that does not support his argument. Alternative fuels are definitely part of the answer, which is what I'm advocating not what he was advocating. But there are a couple of problems:

    1.) Infrastructure for alternative fuels is limited (CNG for example, though there are over 100 public stations in California)

    2.) There is no hydrogen infrastructure at all.

    But I understand your point. Hydrogen is about 15-20 years away from a fuel for personal transportation.
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Understood and agreed abannat. Thank you for your insight. From your profile I would say you have a very interesting future ahead of you. Transportation must make great strides from what it is now to accomodate the way humans are actually living.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    on alternative fuels, as do most carmakers nowadays. There are a number of options available, but getting them to market is a major investment -- and therefore risk. The hybrid technology used in the Prius and Insight is currently the best compromise between technology and marketability, and will hopefully get enough people to accept alternatives to the gasoline engine that other avenues can be explored.
  • pocahontaspocahontas Posts: 802
    here's a direct link to our active Honda Insight discussion. Thanks for your participation. ;-)

    Hatchbacks/Station Wagons Message Boards

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    I can appreciate the fervor some may have for the Prius, however there is a reason we don't tend to allow engineers to run our companies. They get fixated on an idea and fail to see when they do not meet our goals. Maybe if we stated it as a problem presented by an instructor in college. The assignment as stated in the beginning of this forum will be. Create a car that is affordable, fuel efficient, and preforms as close to a conventional car as possible. So Tommy Toyota, Henry Honda, Mark Metro, and Verner Von Volkswagen leave class and come back with their presentation to the instructor. Now Verner has designed a car that preforms pretty much like a conventional car, it can be massed produced passes present smog laws and gets very good on road milage. Mark Metro produces a car that is inexpensive, can be mass produced and gets very good milage, doesn't preform all that well but handles pretty much like a conventional car. Tommy Toyota produces a car that is expensive, gets pretty good gas milage, but the handling is suspect, doesn't get quite the gas milage as Verner's on the road. Henry Honda makes a car that is as pricy as Tommy's but gets much better fuel milage, as much as 20 mpg better, is 3 full seconds faster to 60 MPH, the handling is still a bit suspect. Now which car comes closest to meeting the instructors requirements? Is Tommy's car best in any of the required fields? No, yet the engineer will protest his c+ effort because he tried his best. If you substitute consumer for instructor you might see why some people might be skeptical of the idea that the Prius is the "most" technically advanced car in production. Some of us skeptics might even read about the cars we are skeptical about. Are any of the cars produced a true "solution" or are they simply a way to get the government off their back. Maybe that is a question for another forum. (The questionable handling on the Prius and Insight can be found in Motor Trend, January, 2001.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    You neglect to mention that your analogy leaves out some important data, to wit:

    Herr Verner's effort is a diesel, and as such is a major polluter (thereby substituting a worse form of pollution for another); Mr. Metro's effort is a tiny urban crawler that will barely seater that can NEVER haul more than two people, is only available with a manual transmission and is rough and noisy; and Tommy-san's Prius is a true 5-passenger car with as good accomodations as any other car in its price category -- not to mention decent handling and braking (sorry, your opinion about the last two items is in the minority -- read the latest Autoweek and other reviews of the car).

    So: Considering the overall mission, I'd rank the cars thus:

    Toyota: A+
    Honda: A-
    Volkswagen: B
    Suzuki: C
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    I think DennisWade's got it right but in one respect you're also right, hybrids do have a long way to go, but remember, this is the first generation of them. Give them time, and they will be more likely to impress you. Their energy and environmental bnefits will improve and their costs will come down with economies of scale.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    Doesn't you choice have to be first in some respect? Wouldn't the "most" Advanced car get the "Best" gas milage? I know the tires have to be narrow and hard for better milage but to get 20 MPG less that the Honda with the same basic technology seems a little backward to me. Maybe it's just me but shouldn't it be better performing than the other three? I have seen you in other forums and thought you felt performance held some importance. I would question the idea that most commuters have more than two people in the car. At least if we go by the reports from California. They tried to make car pool lanes for three or more and found that two was by far the most common number. abbanat indicated in another post that these cars were not to replace but to augment our stable of vehicles. So you are saying you prefer the slower car? If that is the case I am happy for you. But from a strictly numbers point of view the Prius still gets just a bit better fuel milage on the highway than a 4 door Metro 1.3, and the Toyota costs $10,000.00 more. You can buy a lot of gas for $10,000.00. It Gets 20 MPG less than the Honda and costs the same. Give or take 200 dollars. No where is the Toyota in first place, cost, or milage. In the Edmunds reviews it shows that the Prius doesn't out perform any of the three on the highway. So I wish you were my collage instructor when I was in business school. It would be nice not to have to have the best package and yet get the best grade. Because if fuel milage isn't the point, then there are a whole lot of cars I can think of that have more bells and whistles than the Toyota. And if you are willing to give up 20 mpg and crown the Toyota the better car. How about giving up another 20 MPG and maybe selecting the Honda 2000, or the Celica or even the A4 as the most technologically advanced? That might seem like a cheep shot to others but I know denniswade is into performance cars. ( I think you loyalty is showing) *S*

    abbanat, I agree they have a long way to go, but this first effort seems a bit like a rush job. All the manufacturers know they have to work towards a zero emissions car and yet they come out with a gas powered electric? Do you honestly believe this is there best effort? That they can not make a green car that gets better milage on the highway than "all" the conventional cars? If it is I think we are worse off than we thought.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    The NHRA is having 1/8 th mile drags at Rialto Airport. They were having one today but Sundays aren't good for me. However they are having one May 12 -13. My son and I are planning on going, just to watch. Would be neet to see you and your car there. Check it out at in case the button doesn't work or call (909) 820-2622
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    Oh, boaz. You keep bringing up the same arguments. I don't know how much more I can keep this up! :>) It's simply not fair to compare a Metro with a Prius. They're not in the same vehicle class. No, the best technology doesn't always result in the best performance. A Mercedes S-class may have incredible technology, but it doesn't necessarily outperform a Lexus LS 430, yet there is still a similar proportional price discrepancy. A Prius offers better fuel economy (use the combined mpg cycle: 1/((.45/hwy)+ (.55/city)))than a Metro, much better tailpipe emissions, much more interior space, and better performance. So from that comparison (which you insist on making) it does perform better. Is it worth a $10,000 premium? The market seems to think so as there is a 3 month waiting list of people for the Prius. But the real premium is closer to 3-4 thousand dollars when you compare it to other vehicles in its class, which is what most reasonable people have been doing.

    Despite the Honda getting 15-20 mpg better than the Prius, a Prius owner doesn't consume that much more fuel than an Insight over, say 15,000 miles a year. Why? because fuel consumption is not linear with mpg, it's a curve with diminishing returns. Run a fuel consumption excel chart from 10mpg to 75 mpg over 15,000 miles, you will see that it is a curve and that there is very little difference in fuel consumption from 45 mpg to 60 mpg. The biggest improvements can be made by improving vehicles with 10-20 mpgs

    You also need to understand that comparing the Prius with the Insight is unfair. The only thing similar about them is the fact that they're both hybrids. The Insight was designed from the start only to get the maximum fuel economy. The Prius was designed to meet the everyday needs of consumers looking for a compact (not subcompact) car. It's like comparing a Civic to a delSol.

    Technologically advanced vehicles are not defined by their bells and whistles. The drivetrain technology of the Prius is unbelievable for this price class, or any, and it's apparent you're unfamiliar with it. You can't simply discard the significance of this statement until you've seen the schematics of the vehicle. You may not value this in a car, but others do. That's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

    I don't understand your point about whether there are two or three commuters in a vehicle and what relevance that has on the discussion of hybrids. Please clarify.

    Also understand that people rarely buy vehicles based on the numbers. But if you insist,the numbers for the Metro clearly indicate that nobody
    wants to buy it, yet the Prius has a 3 month waiting list. What's the point of advocating a vehicle nobody wants to buy?

    Do I believe this is their best effort? Yes! This has been an incredible effort considering the costs of advanced technologies. Do you think auto makers would even be CONSIDERING hybrids if it weren't for the ZEV mandate? There would be ZERO research at all. The Prius and Insight DO get better fuel economy than all the conventional vehicles when you consider the previously cited combined mpg cycle. Remember...diminishing returns to scale the higher your mpg. The Japanese version of the Prius gets even BETTER mileage but they wouldn't bring it to the American market because they felt like it needed more power. The benefits of hybrids will be truly evident when they are applied to gas guzzlers like light-trucks and SUVs. But you don't have to like them or even buy them because understandably you don't think they're a good value. That's perfectly fine and justifiable. I concede, it's the "innovators" and "early majority" who will be the first to buy them, but they will continue to advance and more improvements will be made. My argument for them will continue to be supported over time as hybrid technology improves.

    I understand your argument, I just don't think they're particularly fair and don't acknowledge an understanding of the design goals for the vehicles and I don't think you're making fair vehicle comparisons. However, it's also not fair for me to expect people to understand these vehicles in depth, so I'll cut you some slack! :>)
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    regarding the Prius & Insight vs. Metro comparison:

    City MPG: 30
    Hwy MPG: 34
    Combined MPG: 32.2

    City MPG: 52
    Hwy MPG: 45
    Combined MPG: 48.7

    City MPG: 61
    Hwy MPG: 68
    Combined MPG: 64.1

    No matter how you slice it, the hybrids outperform that a lot (but not so much in overall fuel consumption).

    Now a Volkswagen TDI may get similar mpg as a Prius (though a little bit lower) you have to recognize that they can't be bought in states that have adopted California emissions laws, and you also have to realize that diesels themselves have an incremental cost compared to an average vehicle in it's class. So really, the difference between a Jetta TDI and Prius is around $2000, and maybe less, depending on how the Jetta is optioned out.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    As you know I don't care for micro cars either. The Metro reminded me of a go cart. Just would rather they worked towards making something more family friendly. Or at least long trip friendly. And you have made a valid point. Even the Japanese realize the consumers in this country will have a hard time sacrificing if it means low performance. If forced to they might but from history what do you see? Smaller cars getting bigger. Civic and Corolla were tiny at one time. Manufacturers that are known for economical cars making SUVs. And even Toyota opting for lower milage rather than risk falling too far behind the cars people are buying. People waiting to buy the Pruis might even increase if Gas goes up as they say. Does not that attitude validate my point from the Japanese managements point of view? We can export a much better fuel milage car or one that is a little bit better but preforms more like a conventional car? They must be concerned with if people would buy them. All you or I can do at this point is wait and see. Will the hybrids out sell Ford F-150s or PT Cruisers? If the answer is yes, then you might be right. If the answer is no? Then the discussion will be: Who bought the Hybrids? Time will tell. As for me, I was one of those that waited till the Battle between Beta and VHS was decided and bought a VCR when it was much cheaper, and am just now looking at a DVD player. Have one on the computer but who wants to sit in front of a 17 inch screen when there is a 27 in the living room? The better question might be, will the early birds get their monies worth? Or would it be better to wait and see what they have on the burner? I did buy a cell phone when they first came out, paid through the nose. Now they give them away with a years service. If the EV-1 would have been workable, and priced anywhere near $20,000.00 I would have had one. But if I had bought into that would I be happy today?
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    You're raise a good question as to whether the hybrids will outsell F-150s or PT Cruisers. Remember, we both agree that hybrids right now should be considered as a supplement to a household with an F-150, not as a replacement. But that doesn't address overall sales as your last statement alludes. You're also right that if gas prices drop, or maybe even stay the same, that the appeal of hybrids is unknown. But what we do know is that this technology will be introduced into full-size vehicles (Dodge Durango, full-size trucks, Ford Escape) and that people who use SUVs and light-duty trucks strictly as passenger vehicles may find it appealing to have the performance of, for example, a V8 with the fuel economy of a V6. I'm realistic enough to understand that it is very difficult to get people to jump to a smaller vehicle class. The most progress from a fuel demand point of view can be made at the lower mpgs if people buy the more fuel efficient (and cleaner!) hybrid full-size vehicle within a given model. For example, a jump from a 12 mpg Suburban to a hybrid Suburban (philosophical example) that gets 17 mpg is the same fuel savings (over x miles) as that from a 24 mpg Honda Accord and a 41 mpg Metro.

    We have to take little baby steps. So while my general opinions may seem very liberal, I also understand that these technologies and benefits need to win people over based on their own merits (which they can and IMO will), not simply because I want to impose my beliefs on other people. I also think the hybrid market will be sustainable because light-duty trucks will need to meet passenger car emissions in California and hybrids are the only way they will be able to do that. But you're right, time will tell.

    You couldn't buy the EV-1 even if you wanted to. GM was only leasing it. What would it have cost you to buy? Probably around $70k. GM did learn a lot from that vehicle, so despite what many people think, it was not a failure. Only a failure from a sales point of view. A recent issue of Automotive News has an interview with a GM EV-1 program manager. Can't remember his name, though.

    BTW, the Beta was better but the VCR prevailed because it was already firmly rooted.

    Finally, go for the DVD player. The market is maturing and the video rental places have really improved their selection and availability of DVDs. I just bought my second DVD player(third if you count my computer) from Wal-Mart for $115. It was a no-name brand (Oritron) but I couldn't pass it up. Even has S-Video output.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    I had looked into putting in charging stations where my employees could charge their cars if they bought one. Found out they were not only leasing EV-1s but the charger was a lease also. And yes, if my full sized 4X4 got better fuel milage I would have it today. The Dakota does get better fuel milage than the Ram Charger did. My SC-1 gets 41 mpg commuting during the week. My Z-28 did not. And yes that was 41 mpg. And it is shifted just before the shift light comes on. It still gets 35+ in the city and during the weekends. But you know what happens? My gas bill went down and you start looking at cold air intakes and you know the rest of the story. If you go to some of the other boards like C&D or R&T you will see people espousing the virtues of buying some small import car because it is not a fuel eater, and then they put all these modifications on them to make them run like a 5.0 Mustang. Unless something happens to the price of gas people tend to go for performance no matter what they say at a party over drinks.
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    Sounds to me like you're already doing your part to minimize your fuel consumption (and kudos for looking into the charging stations). Now I don't have a vehicle that gets 35mpg, mine gets around 21. Instead, I ride transit 2 1/2 hours a day, so we both do something a little different to reduce our consumption, but end up with the same results. If more people commuted in SCs instead of XLTs, we might be in better shape.

    BTW I hear you on the Japanese aftermarket niche. It's really big in California (not sure where you live). I don't understand it, but it's a different generation. I was on the tail end of the "mini-truck" generation, but that never made sense to me, either.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    "The Insight was designed from the start only to get the maximum fuel economy. The Prius was designed to meet the everyday needs of consumers looking for a compact (not subcompact) car. It's like comparing a Civic to a delSol."

    In fact, both hybrids were designed to maximize fuel efficiency. The only difference between Prius and Insight, besides technology involved, is that Honda took a 'concept' route and Toyota decided to make it a mainstream car.

    The Insight concept is more intriguing to me since it is much closer to conventional gasoline engine, while Prius is closer to the electric vehicles. Honda is using Insight concept and due to come out with a Civic (this year?), and later, CR-V using the IMA-gasoline engine combination. These two will not have the same mileage as Insight, but given that Civic HX is already rated at 36/44 mpg, I tend to believe that Hybrid Civic
    will be close to Prius (or better) in mileage, and definitely in performance (based on some calculations, assuming 1.4 liter SOHC VTEC-E with same size IMA as in Insight).
  • abbanatabbanat Posts: 57
    Point well taken, and was essentially what I was trying to say (though not very successfully). Both are trying to maximize fuel efficiency, but the Prius sacrifices that for size, comfort, and convenience (e.g. CVT transmission as opposed to manual).
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    finally found the topic you were in -- I was interrupted this morning and forgot to postmark your invitation to Rialto.

    Anyway, yes, I'd love to go -- dunno if I'll be particiapting, because streetable small-displacement cars generally don't do that well in the 1/8 mile -- lack of torque means they do their best in the last half of the 1/4 mile -- but it would be interesting to try. In any case, you could give my little ride a spin and see what you think.

    My home e-mail address is -- give me a holler and we'll hook up.

    By the way, I will be going to Palmdale this weekend, if you're interested.
  • I still don't understand why automakers have to make hybrid cars uglier than sin, thats why I like the things Dodge and Chevy are cooking up, they are based on current trucks, things people will actually buy. And if these get mroe popular on suv, that will make SUV's even more popular.

    me personally, I don't want to pay for it, make it an option.
This discussion has been closed.