Hybrids - Toyota vs Honda

Excerpts from http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_46/b3959057.htm
While the Toyota Prius sells in eight days, the Honda Accord hybrid
takes some two months to exit the lot. The Honda Civic hybrid is no Prius either - it takes 36 days to move.
Clearly, the Prius's conspicuous display of uber-greenness is key to its success. But it also features a radically new driving experience. It's quite a thrill to hit the accelerator and slip along in near silence.
Not so for Honda hybrids. Because the gasoline engine is working most of the time - getting an electrical boost during acceleration - it drives much like a regular car. Honda says its technology is fuel efficient and cheaper, but that may not be enough to wow drivers.
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Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.
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: Honda says its technology is fuel : efficient and cheaper, but that may not be enough to wow drivers.
Honda missed the point.
Their hybrid just too ugly - and the blame falls partly on that funky looking, fender-covered thing they tried to peddle (the Insight??).
Mack
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That may be true for the Insight, but the Civic and Accord Hybrids look just like regular Accords and Civics.
Persoanlly, I think the Toyota system is superior, although I remain unconvinced that I really care that much about hybrids in general. However, I think the size of the Prius, and the very positive press are major factors contributing to it sales sucess. Also the distinctive, if unual styling lets the world know that the driver really cares about the environment. The enviromentalist driving a Civic Hybrid might not get noticed....
Insight (CVT) - 57 City / 56 Hwy / 56 combined Insight (manual) - 60 City / 66 Hwy / 63 combined Civic Hybrid - 49 City / 51 Hwy / 50 combined Prius - 60 City / 51 Highway / 55 combined Accord Hybrid (2005) - 29 City / 37 Hwy / 32 combined Ford Escape (FWD) - 36 City / 31 Hwy / 33 combined Toyota Highlander Hybrid (FWD) - 33 City / 28 Hwy / 30 combined Toyota Camry (4 cylinder, 5 sp manual) - 24 City / 34 Hwy / 28 combined
Ed
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Perhaps they don't want to stand out as not being a very astute buyer who fell for the hybrid hype? ;)
mike hunt

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I suppose the reason is the Civic buyer can get a better perspective on the premium price one must pay to buy a hybrid when looking at the came car with the different power plants. That premium will buy nearly ALL of the fuel for a conventional powered Civic. In the case of the Prius most buyers do not think to compare it to the Corolla for size, price, and fuel mileage. To say nothing of the fact dealers never mention the huge battery replacement cost somewhere down the line.
mike hunt

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On Fri, 4 Nov 2005 15:41:31 -0500, "Mike Hunter"

You know, I've heard this comment about battery life and huge battery replacement cost before. So I'm curious, just how long is the life expectancy of a hybrid battery? Would that mean that the resale value of a used hybrid would drop faster with time than a similar model non-hybrid?
CD
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Cranky Dude wrote:

It is a good question and one which I suspect the car makers know the answer to, but are keeping quiet about. The battery technology being used is a larger implemenation of the same rechargeable battery types already deployed in laptops, cordless power tools, digital cameras, cell phone and the like. I have had more laptop batteries totally fail to take a charge than I would care to think about. They typically work great at first, but months or years down the line need to be replaced at a high cost.
With cordless power tools (drills, etc.) it is often cheaper to buy a whole new one than it is to replace the power packs. Typically a couple of years of moderate use is all it takes for those battery packs to be worthless.
Lithium batteries, for example, are generally rated for 300-500 charge-discharge cycles before being useless. Typically as the number of cycles adds up, the capacity deteriorates.
See: http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm
Nicad batteries are generally considered usefull for around 700 carefully managed cycles.
See: http://www.directron.com/batteryterms.html
I believe that the Prius and other presently available hybrids use Nicad for this longer cycle life, even though Lithium batteries offer a higher power density.
There are no 5-10 year old Nicad laden cars on the road right now, so only time will tell. My guess is that somewhere around 2009-2010 there are going to be a bunch of surprised and angry customers, many of them the second owners of these vehicles.
John
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A google search using hybrid battery replacement reveals much. The consensus of many critics seems to be that hybrids, for the price, are not yet cost effective and are now just a "feel good" car for well off tree huggers.
nb
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The hybrids have never been cost effective, pretty much everyone agrees on that.
==================== Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
...G.K. Chesterton
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: "Steve" wrote: : The hybrids have never been cost effective, pretty much everyone agrees on that.
I'm sure the Canadian taxi cab driver who drives a Prius and saves over $900-$1100 *per month* in costs would disagree with you.
Link: http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8839690 /
As to the battery, the thing is warrantied for 10 years or 120,000 miles in California so battery worries are pretty much a moot point. I have yet to hear of one being replaced since it came into the States in 1999/2000. It really never fully charges nor does it fully discharge, it sort of floats in a 40%-60% charge, if I recall correctly, which adds to its life. So far the car has seen very low maintenance costs for a complex design among its owners according to latest Consumer Reports feedback (oil, filter, and tire rotation every 5000 miles is pretty much it).
Regarding depreciation, in 10 years I doubt if any car would be worth much. My vehicles in 7 years only amount to around a $500 trade-in (not a hybrid) althoug I oculd sell them on the street for more and deal with the headaches. Personally, I wouldn't buy any car 10 years old as I want reliabilty and not spending time wrenching and listening to the noise of worn out suspension components (rubber bushings). Currently, the Prius depreciation losses have been minimal as the vehicle is in demand with surcharges and long wait times.
True, one could buy a cheaper car such as a Corolla or Kia, but they aren't the same vehicle as would be comparing a Hummer to a Lexus hybrid. Some people just like the high-tech of the car (which also isn't in the Corolla).
Mack
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The Prius does not use NiCads. It uses nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. And the Prius system only discharges htem to about 80% of capacity. These batteries have very good life, and the limited dicharge enhances this further. I believe that in normal usage, you can expect the battery to last 150,000-200,000 miles.
http://www.peve.panasonic.co.jp/catalog/e_kaku.html http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid 5399&page=1 http://www.lubbockautos.com/autonews/toyota/062204.shtml
Ed
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No matter how one choose to spin it, the Prius will need a new battery pack at some point in its life and the cost at that time will be so high, in comparison to the value of the vehicle, that its value with spent batteries will by virtually nothing. Who is going to foolish enough to replace a $4,000 battery pack in a $4,000 vehicle?
mike hunt

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I don't think that is a safe conclusion at all. With a number of Prius approaching the 200K mile and 5 year mark, there have been few enough outright battery failures that validating them is difficult (obvious hoaxes are common). It is more likely as Toyota indicates; most will never need a replacement battery. If somebody does need one, used batteries are often offered for $400-$1000 US on ebay, courtesy of road accidents. To test the battery, the multi-function display includes a diagnostic screen that reports individual cell health (one of those secret sequence things) and the cells are individually replaceable.
Every vehicle dies of something. I've scrapped a Mercury Capri because it needed a new driveshaft (integral u-joints!) and the price was over $200. To assume HV batteries will be the death of most hybrids is quite a stretch, especially given their track record.
Mike
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     snipped-for-privacy@cybertrails.com "Michael Pardee" writes:

Can you pass on the sequence, please? I'd love to have it handy for my UK-spec T4 Prius (new Aug 2005), for occasional checking.
More generally: there are so many ignorant people, ready to make sweeping and ignorant statements about hybrids that I've learned to disregard them, or (for fun) pick out the weasel-phrases used to insure against contradiction. The bleeding things work, now. I am assuming Toyota (with Honda, and whoever else undertakes to manufacture advanced vehicles) do accelerated life testing &c &c with a view to ensuring customers don't get mightily cheesed off before they've had value for money. Time, not ignorant opinion, will tell.
FWIW my Toyota dealer tells me today that the UK price for a new main Prius battery (w/o labour charges or taxes) is GBP 1321.35, which I hope helps to focus the discussion. (Side note: earlier this year I posted a substantially lower price, also supplied by my dealer; but I think he must have misunderstood the question.) I would expect this price to fall as design refinements are made and production ramps up -- what to, who knows.
--
Andrew Stephenson


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snipped-for-privacy@deltrak.demon.co.uk (Andrew Stephenson) wrote:

But what problems do they solve, and what other solutions are there for the same problems?
They solve exactly one problem: recapturing braking energy to re-use on acceleration. There's only one place where that works: city driving.
The requirement for braking came from the burning of petrol to create acceleration in the first place. Must we burn petrol to create the acceleration? Can anything else solve that problem?
They're also more expensive to make and to buy. That's a problem in and of itself. If we're trying to save on petrol, can we use any other motive source for acceleration?
If so, can that other motive source be purchased cheaper than the hybrid?
For example: can a diesel engine solve the problem better/cheaper/more reliably than a hybrid?
Can I run a diesel and spend less money, or no more than the same money, as a hybrid? Let's say I spend the exact same amount of money per mile to motivate the diesel as the hybrid. Now it comes down to maintenance and reliability. Is the diesel cheaper or more expensive to maintain? What about the reliability--can I get the diesel fixed cheaper? What happens when I go out in the country somewhere--can I rely on the magic black box of software that the hybrid depends upon, or will a diesel be more reliable because it doesn't depend on a computer just to run?
There are so many questions to ask yourself once you dig down.
I prize reliability and simplicity. The Toyota hybrid fails the simplicity test horribly, the Honda hybrid much less so, the diesel virtually not at all.
And frankly, it's all about MY pocketbook. Which one, over 200K miles, cost me the least out of pocket to buy, maintain, repair, and insure?
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     snipped-for-privacy@nastydesigns.com "Elmo P. Shagnasty" writes:

At the risk of turning this into one of those endlessly circling threads, I'll try to go through your points, which are reasonable but based (in a couple of places at least) on insufficient facts.
All of the following is AFAIK, okay?
At this stage in the development of hybrids and advanced vehicle design in general, the industry is having to play catch-up after decades of, frankly, unforgivable negligence. Now that pressure is on to make best use of resources, they are seeking answers.
So these vehicles are, to some extent, test beds. The initial experiments have been done at the factory and have reached the stage where the product is deemed good enough to be released for long-term market testing. As with ANY product, there will be imperfections, which we hope will be removed by re-design.
The main problems the Prius (and, I assume, competing designs) is _trying_ to solve seem to fall into at least three areas: better conversion of the fuel (petrol/gas/&c) into a form useful within the vehicle (eg, movement, light, heat, communications); reduced waste of same thereafter; improved control generally to make the car more efficient (re: energy) and a good drive (eg, responsive, surer-footed on slippery surfaces, positive steering+braking).
On top of those perfomance-related issues, there is the question of improving the vehicle's green credentials. Now, I know that for some people "green" is a red-rag-to-a-bull trigger word. By it, I mean "how to reduce the amount you throw away needlessly". Manufacturers are learning to waste less whilst building the car, waste less whilst it's working, recover more when it's scrapped. It's not a political question, unless we insist on making it so. Saving makes such bleeding obvious sense, I'll stop beating that drum right there.

Well, no, they already solve more problems than that. The Prius uses several tricks to cut fuel consumption. The regenerative braking is significant, certainly; but the greater effiiency of the Atkinson engine (less power for the same capacity, but much greater efficiency) is the first major plus. Then, yes, waste due to braking counts for a lot. On top of that, the electric motor does a better job of start/slow/stop movement than a plain old ICE would, as technology stands now. Finally, there is the control system, which works behind the scenes, choosing optimal strategies as best it can.

A dangerous generalisation. The Prius has bits conventional cars lack, yes (eg: battery, electric generator and motor, inverter, planetary gear), but lacks some conventional parts (eg: clutch, gearbox); and some parts are simplified or smaller (eg: 1.5 litre petrol engine, 45 litre fuel tank, lightweight transmission). A slew of parts are entirely conventional and can benefit from past developments and existing production methods (eg: wheels+tyres, suspensions, hydraulic brake components (augmented by regen.), lights, seating, steering, structure parts, body panels, paint and plastics bits). Get the idea? It's a trade-off.
And, to repeat something that really shouldn't need repeating, in an age when we trust horrendously complex gadgets with our lives every hour: complexity does not have to mean unreliability. The Prius braking system, for example, is full of feedback loops that cope with small failures. Go look it up: Toyota are fairly free with their literature and sent me detailed techical info.

It'll be something that surprises us -- count on it.

Time will tell. My money is on someone developing a diesel that can be fitted into a hybrid, thereby gaining the best of both.

Indeed. I totally agree with you there.

One of the nice aspects of a free market is that _you_ can choose not to participate in the Great Experiment. With more of us out there, trying alternative solutions, we may find a better way a lot sooner. So go for it. Or not. Thus far, I like my Prius. It cost me significantly less (purchase price) and serves me more to my taste than some quite swanky cars I looked at.
--
Andrew Stephenson


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snipped-for-privacy@deltrak.demon.co.uk (Andrew Stephenson) wrote:

Good discussion, thanks.

That pretty much sums it up. "Green" isn't a car, it's a holistic philosophy.

Personally, I have trouble evaluating the control system in a vacuum. I need to evaluate the benefits of the control system against the cost of the fact that the control system is incredibly complex--and complexity brings its own set of problems to the table.
Now we're into the law of unintended consequences.

Many cars can use less complex transmissions as well. That they don't choose to is another matter.

Pull back a bit, and see what happened when a hurricane hit our incredibly complex and teetering on the edge energy market.
Complexity puts you that much closer to the edge.

That's such a simple concept, I'm amazed it hasn't been done. Didn't I read in Car and Driver magazine some time ago that an idling diesel engine consumes virtually no fuel? This was in regard to big rig trucks, but still. The question came up about why truck drivers don't shut their engines off in situations where car drivers would, and that was the answer.

Frankly, if anyone can do it it'll be Toyota.
I find it mildly humorous that Ford has licensed Toyota hybrid technology for their Escape...
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You forgot one very impotent part of that equation....REPLACEMENT cost. The hybrids, all of them, cost more to buy than conventionally power vehicles of the same size and equipment. They will cost more to replace as well. Especially if the batteries are depleted. The fact is the premium one pays to acquire a hybrid will generally buy ALL of the fuel, used by a comparable conventionally power vehicle, for three to four years. For the average new car buyer in the US that replaces their new vehicle with another new vehicle in three to four years that can mean all of the fuel for as long as they generally own their vehicles. Personally I hope more buyers choose hybrids to save the planet, that will stretch the supply of fuel for those of use that prefer high powered, safer, large vehicles. The only problem I see is if the consumption of fuel, in total, is going down the price of fuel will rise for those that have trouble buying fuel at todays prices evn for hybrid owners. ;)
mike
"Elmo P. Shagnasty" > And frankly, it's all about MY pocketbook. Which one, over 200K miles,

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Probably closer to 8 years, the life expectency of a hybrid battery pack.

Or longer.

I'm not. It's a diversion from hydrogen technology. Besides, battery production is an incredibly toxic industry. Your trading one plague for another.
nb
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snip

You gottit...and the automaker who does the best job in this dept alone is the one that I want stock in...
--

-Gord.
(use gordon in email)
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