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(essays)-> Notes on Hybrid Cars submited by Russell Mon 14 Nov 05
Edited Fri 19 May 06
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Is a Hybrid Worth It?
Reasons Not To Buy a Hybrid

Hybrid vehicle purchase Incentives:

I had actually done some of this math with my friend before and come up with similar numbers. These are even worse than what I came up with. The extra cost for buying a hybrid just doesn't pay off in fuel savings. ( unless you are a traveling salesman who travels 100,000 miles a year. .. and then I don't know if you want to spend so much time in such a small car. )

It did happen that I needed a car. The ford Taurus I was driving to and from work died, not totally unexpectedly but still sooner than I would have liked. ( 130K miles and the engine died )
I just needed a car. I wanted to spend as little as possible, and I wanted to continue to spend as little as possible. I settled on an aveo, which I got for $9200 with a $400 employee discount via my mother-in-law. It's the base model. No options. No nothing. The car is striped. It has an AM/FM radio, manual windows , manual locks and Standard transmission. Some of my friends commented that they didn't even know you could still get a car w/o some of those features.

The point is that on my 29 mile commute to work, which is some hi-way speed but also includes a lot of traffic lights and stops, ( so it's not all hi-way mileage) I am actually getting 31 miles per gallon. ( window sticker predicted up to 35 MPG)

For me the hybrid really never entered the debate. Such a car would have cost nearly twice as much as the aveo, and might have saved me 30% fuel costs. Even at $3.00 per gallon, that would only work out to about $15 a month savings for me. ( leaving me at about $160 a month deeper in the hole. ) And that doesn't cover what seems to be this big unanswered question about hybrids. What about the cost of repairing/replacing the batteries which will probably fail just about the same time as the warrantee ends?

I have just a few more comments before I close this rant...
  • The Aveo was a tolerable purchase for me because this would not be our only car. I would not want this to be the car we have to use for family trips cross country. It has no creature comforts.
  • I feel the Aveo could be better tuned for gas mileage. It has a 1.6 Liter Engine. It has plenty of power. I'm not going to say it's a speed demon, that's not the goal of such a car. In the past I actually had several 1979 Ford Fiestas. The engine on that was the same size and had a caborator. The new Aveo has a DOHC engine with fuel injection and a redline of 6500 rpm. It was probably a lighter ( less safe ) car, but the Fiesta got 40MPG on long road trips. I would like to see the Aveo try to do what it does with a smaller engine. A smaller engine would save weight and probably fuel.
  • At 60MPH in 5th gear the Aveo runs at 3000 RPM. I think this is too high. More than once, as I have gotten to know this car, I have tried to up-shift from 5th. What it really needs is a 6th gear, or a taller 5th that would bring the engine down to 1800 or 2000 rpm at highway speeds. This would probably improve mileage. But.. it would subject the car to terrible reviews about how it can't even climb hills in it's top gear. I believe it is fear of such reviews that keep car makers from making a car that is tuned for the best possible mileage.
  • On a related note, the EPA testing procedure probably costs us all fuel. Because of the use of a standard tests that doesn't really test real-world scenario carmakers produce cars the perform their best on the test, not in the real world. The EPA hi-way test is done at 48 MPH That would put the engine closer to 2000RPM, where I feel it should be at cruising speed. So in essence, 5TH gear is too low specifically because of the EPA test. If they did the test at 55 or even 65 MPH, my Fifth gear would probably be taller. The Gear I want would probably lug and choke the engine at 48 MPH. Count me as a strong advocate of a revamp of the EPA testing Procedures.

the Smart Car, (Russell)

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