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Transportation Earth Technology

Hybrid Car Owners Not Likely To Buy Another Hybrid 998 998

An anonymous reader writes "A new study has found that people who purchased a hybrid car in the past are not likely to buy a hybrid for their next car purchase. 'Only 35% of hybrid vehicle owners chose to purchase a hybrid again when they returned to the market in 2011, according to auto information company R.L. Polk & Co. If you factor out the super-loyal Toyota Prius buyers, the repurchase rate drops to under 25%.' The study also found Florida drivers to be a bit more loyal to the hybrid segment than elsewhere in the country. 'It's hard to know what's causing the low repurchase rate. One reason is that about 17,000 people purchased electric cars last year, and other data shows that many of those were trading in a hybrid vehicle. Honda has been hounded by high-profile class-action and small claims court lawsuits over fuel economy issues with older models of its Civic hybrid. ... Hybrid vehicles represent just 2.4% of the overall new vehicle market in the U.S., according to Polk, down from a high of 2.9% in 2008.'"
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Hybrid Car Owners Not Likely To Buy Another Hybrid

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  • expectations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amoeba1911 (978485) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:10PM (#39624053) Homepage

    It could be that people had unreasonable expectations from the hybrid to begin with, if you look at the advertising they promised a green car that doesn't use fuel and has flowers grow in its wake. In reality you ended up getting something that was marginally better fuel mileage than a compact car, but costs a lot more.

    I drive a prius, I am disappointed with the fact that they STILL use outdated nimh batteries instead of lithium. Afaik they also don't use any of these new awesome ultracapacitors, so what the hell are they doing? The industry's stagnation annoys me, and I doubt I am alone.

  • by eln (21727) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:10PM (#39624063) Homepage
    We have a couple of problems here: As you point out, hybrids are more expensive than they should be for purely cost-concious consumers. Secondly, though, with all-electric cars (or even gasoline-assisted electrics like the Volt) coming out, it's becoming more and more obvious that hybrids are destined to be a short-lived stepping stone and not the long-term solution to our oil and pollution problems. This means the environment-concious people are more likely to buy a Leaf or a Volt than buy another hybrid.

    So, basically, hybrids aren't cost effective enough for people buying primarily on cost, and they're not green enough for people buying primarily on environmental friendliness. As all-electrics continue to improve, the age of the hybrid will come to an end.
  • Re:Diesel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:13PM (#39624109) Homepage
    From what I've seen, diesel prices tend to be more volatile than gasoline prices. Around here, diesel will range from around 50 cents cheaper to 50 cents more expensive than gasoline depending on a number of factors (including, as far as I can tell, a coin flip). So, the price of the fuel shouldn't be an overarching factor in deciding to go for one or the other.

    Having said that, though, diesels do get good mileage, and as long as you live in a decent-sized city or near a major highway there usually isn't too much difficulty in finding gas stations that sell diesel fuel.
  • Re:expectations (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:17PM (#39624167)

    Unreasonable expectations are most likely based on the fact you can't drive a hybrid like a traditional car and still expect to get more than minor gas savings. Even then, I mostly see hybrids advertised as 35-45mpg... not a significant improvement over traditional cars of similar size.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:23PM (#39624247)

    Same price? Honda's website advertises the Civic Sedan starting at $15,995 (39mpg) and the Civic Hybrid starting at $24,200 (44mpg). A hybrid costs 50% more for a 13% mpg increase. Even the most expensive non-hybrid Civic is less expensive than the Hybrid (excluding the natural gas model). And that assumes you take the time to drive the hybrid as a hybrid, which most people won't.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:25PM (#39624295) Homepage Journal

    Hybrids are an alternative for drivers who want to be green, think of diesel as the soot spewing lorries and buses of yesteryear, can't live with the short range and abysmal interior space of of pure electrics, and can afford the price premium.

    Living in the US, gas prices is my least concern. $4.50 per gallon? That's ridiculously cheap - far less than I paid in the 90s back in Europe. So sell me a car I can like, with decent acceleration, cargo space and range. Sorry, it won't be a Prius or Volt; much as I'd love to go the green route, they are not particularly green when factoring in the factory footprint, and I can't use them for much more than commuting.

  • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#39624347) Homepage Journal

    So, basically, hybrids aren't cost effective enough for people buying primarily on cost

    You could also say, oil isn't expensive enough -- the gas prices don't reflect the real cost of oil.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:37PM (#39624439)
    No new car, of any sort, is "green".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:40PM (#39624493)

    I don't fault Chevy in any way for their marketing. They are very clear about what the Volt is and is not. They just have purposefully avoided using the actual terms "hybrid" or "plug-in hybrid".

    I'm confused. They're refusing to use the name for it, "plug-in hybrid", and that's being very clear. It seems they refuse to give it any name.

    Q. Is the Volt an electric car or a hybrid?
    A. Volt is an innovative, never-been-done-before car that exists alone, in a brand-new category of cars. Volt is a fullâ"performance electric vehicle with extended range.

    Really? It's a plug-in hybrid and they've been made before. Just never marketed this widely. I don't see this kind of dishonestly as good. Nor do I believe the excuse the all marketing is lies as valid.

  • >>> it's becoming more and more obvious that hybrids are destined to be a short-lived stepping stone and not the long-term solution to our oil and pollution problems

    Yes because an electric car can really carry me 150 miles per day on my work commute. (Not.) .

    Even if you're not, most car manufacturers are aware that people other than you purchase automobiles.

  • by careysub (976506) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:54PM (#39624681)

    Indeed. Another problem with drawing broad conclusions with the study is look at the years they are comparing - 2008, when gas first broke the $4 a gallon barrier (remember?), but before the economic collapse look hold, and 2011 when gas prices where still down sharply, and after a punishing two years of recession/depression. Paying more up front when the economy is bad, for the promise of future savings when gas prices are down, is not a consuming behavior many people will exhibit.

  • They can (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gr8_phk (621180) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:54PM (#39624683)
    Hybrids CAN pay for themselves on a couple conditions. #1 you must use the vehicle for 100K miles or more. #2 you must be able to do math #3 you probably need to be doing a lot of city driving.

    Let's do some math for the 2012 Ford Fusion Over 100K miles at 26mpg you will burn 3846 gallons of gas.
    At $3.50 per gallon that's $13461 in gas.
    For the hybrid, it's 39mpg (combined as is the 26 figure above). so this works out to $8974 in gas.
    For a savings of $4487.
    If I recall correctly, the price adder for that car was higher than that, so not a win. However, the savings goes up by 50 percent if you drive it for 150K miles. The savings will also go up with gas prices. It also gets better if you do predominantly city driving (I used the generic "combined" EPA figures). At some point it will be a net savings. This trivial example also neglects some other nice things like not wearing out your brake rotors (a non-trivial cost) or reduced number of oil changes (a trivial cost). It also neglects the cost of battery replacement - something which people worry about but I have not heard being a real world issue.

    A Prius OTOH can be had for much closer to $20K and is generally a winner compared to any non-hybrid car so long as you drive 100K miles. I'm not a fan of it and would not buy one.
    As volumes go up we can also expect the cost differential to come down.

    So there we have the reason - it's not obvious weather you save dollars. Many people actually DO save money with a hybrid - particularly Prius owners.
  • by amiga3D (567632) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:02PM (#39624759)

    Oil is worth what they can get for it. If the price goes too high then alternatives become economically viable. The reason gas is king is because relatively speaking it's cheap. If they get greedy and drive it too high they'll cause other options to begin taking off and if the Oil people aren't careful one of those other options could take hold causing them a serious problem. I don't know that Oil could handle real competition.

  • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:03PM (#39624775)
    If you want a real green alternative, buy a bike.
  • by quangdog (1002624) <quangdog&gmail,com> on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:29PM (#39625031)
    Sure, to get to work (1.5 miles for me) an electric would be fine. But what about when I want to go visit my sister (83 miles one direction) for an evening? How about when we go see the in-laws (298 miles one way) every few months? Or what about a busy Saturday running errands all over town - I've easily done 150+ miles just in around-town-driving on a busy Saturday. The point is, owning a limited range car only for your commute is great, but I still have to have something that I can refuel or replenish the range on quickly and easily when I need to travel outside the limited range of an all-electric solution.
  • by minor_deity (1176695) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:44PM (#39625153)
    You're not counting the increased cost of the hybrid. If you spend $5000 more for a hybrid then you would for an equivalent car, save $3600/100,000 miles, and then drive 20,000 miles a year then you're losing a lot more then $700 in the first year. In order to break even by buying a hybrid with that cost structure you'd need to drive ~139,000 miles which would take you ~ 7 years. It's only *after* that point that you'd be saving money by buying a hybrid. If you factor in the rate at which fuel prices are rising and the cost of new batteries for the hybrid then the break even point may move forwards or backwards, but you're still spending more money up front in order to (hopefully) save some money later.
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:44PM (#39625163)

    "Excluding Prius owners"... well there's your problem. Of the hybrids people would likely be trading in (2000-2008ish), only the Toyota Prius is worth a damn. All the others in that year range had tiny electric motors which barely gave any hybrid boost at all. If the "hybrid" you're trading in is basically an ordinary car with a cordless drill motor strapped to the fan belt, of course you're not going to be loyal to it.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:50PM (#39625221)
    If his commute is at a busy time, as most are, he's likely commuting for 3+ hours each way, 6+ hours of driving a day, not 2. He's well above "average" mileage, even if he never drove anywhere other than work and back home. So he knows he's an edge case, and likes to be an idiot about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2012 @08:45PM (#39625749)

    If we want to stop our slow but ongoing ecocide, we need to change the way we live. You can start by buying a car with a...

    Better yet, just skip the car and buy a bicycle. I wish I could say that I did this, but I still have a car I use for the occasional out-of-town trip--but I use the bicycle for commuting to and from work and classes, errands (groceries and whatnot), visiting friends, and most other trips I used to drive for without thinking much about it.

  • by sdguero (1112795) on Monday April 09, 2012 @08:46PM (#39625755)
    Think about the American mentality, freedom and liberty first. I mean, it's kind of a founding principle, despite the direction our government has been heading the last couple decades.

    As an American, I REALLY like the thought that I can get in my car and drive across the country tomorrow. Why would I spend more money for a vehicle that is less capable in this respect? That is the real issue for me, not commuting. Personally I think everyone should ride motorcycles to work... Modern bikes are better for the environment than any car (gas, diesel, hybrid, or electric), and motorcycle riders tend to pay a LOT more attention to the road.
  • by tepples (727027) <> on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:40PM (#39626159) Homepage Journal

    If you want a real green alternative, buy a bike.

    I own one. But in practice, green ideals must be evaluated against one's needs. A car puts a barrier between the driver and the weather; a bike does not. A car has enough metal surface to trigger induction loops connected to traffic signals; a bike does not. A car can carry passengers larger than 50 lbs (22 kg); a typical bike trailer cannot. A car can travel on controlled access highways; a bike cannot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:05PM (#39626353)

    Inefficient lightbulbs aren't a problem? You have no idea what you are talking about. Upgrading lighting is one of the single most cost effective energy efficiency projects there are, and doing so makes a substantial difference.

    Figure there are 100,000,000 homes in tUSA. Lets say that there are a total of 100 light-hours per week [a low estimate for most homes]. If we go from 60W to 15W [again, a low estimate since some are 75W or 100W bulbs], we're talking about saving 4500Wh per home, per week. 4.5kWh * 52 weeks/yr * 100,000,000 homes is 23,400,000,000 kWh == 23,400 GWh. Divide by 8760 hours/yr, and you're taking 2.67 GW of power plants off of production 24x7x365.

    That's about 4 large coal fired power plants, and that's with extremely low estimates for lighting savings. And yes, they will be coal plants because the EPA regulations induced by the Clean Air Act (1970, updated 1977, updated 1990) require old coal fired power plants to invest in significant upgrades to stay operating after 2016ish. The energy efficiency means that those plants [and not natural gas plants] are retired.

    Installing efficient lighting en masse really does make a difference, measurable in the number of large coal fired power plants retired as a result.

    Changing the way we live means burning less oil, less coal, and less natural gas. One way to do that is buying a car with a reasonably sized engine, etc.... but it certainly isn't the only way.

  • Ten minute red (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <> on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:12PM (#39626409) Homepage Journal

    That trafic signal is there only because a car is a danger for everything around it. There is no need to control the bike (and the ciclist will even control hinself if he wishes to live - what's not granted).

    "What's not granted" with this sort of intersection is a cyclist's ability to stop the cross traffic in order to get a green light to cross the road safely. As the operator of a vehicle (albeit a non-motorized one), I'm under the impression that I have the right to an eventual green light. I'd just prefer not to have to wait ten minutes in order to be "chaperoned" through an intersection by whatever car occasionally happens to show up. There's no pedestrian call button or marked crosswalk at this intersection either, or I'd have been using that. Nor does the city seem to want to fix the sensors so that they can see my bike.

  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:21PM (#39626469)

    It's amazing how many people have never heard of "rental cars".

  • by guises (2423402) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @12:21AM (#39627157)

    The roads provide for commerce as well. Trust me, every dollar sunk into infrastructure like that is returned multiple times in increased tax revenue.

    The point he was making was that money spent on infrastructure could just as easily be going to railroads or the like, but instead it all gets spent on cars.

    Regarding the cost of oil, the world is significantly different than it was 11 years ago - the high cost of oil is thanks to the Arab Spring. The OPEC countries (primarily Saudi Arabia) need money to keep their citizens from revolting. Simple as that. I've even got a reference for you: []

    As for how much gas _should_ cost: frankly, it's still too cheap. It's my opinion that commodities should be taxed when they themselves, through use, cost taxpayer dollars. In other words, gas needs to be taxed at a rate which will offset the environmental damage that's done by using it. This is true regardless of the cost of crude oil.

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