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
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.
Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.
: 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??).
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
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.
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
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
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.
Nicad batteries are generally considered usefull for around 700
carefully managed cycles.
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.
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
: "Steve" wrote:
: The hybrids have never been cost effective, pretty much everyone agrees on
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).
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.
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?
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.
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,
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.
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?
firstname.lastname@example.org "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.
That pretty much sums it up. "Green" isn't a car, it's a holistic
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...
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
"Elmo P. Shagnasty" > And frankly, it's all about MY pocketbook. Which one,
over 200K miles,
Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.