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Transportation

Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already? 377

Posted by samzenpus
from the already-there dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes The Toyota Prius is pretty darn popular, especially in California. One might think that hybrid sales are on the rise as gas prices continue to fluctuate, but it seems hybrid sales in the U.S. might be peaking. Researchers at IHS Automotive found that U.S. hybrid sales haven't kept pace with the rest of the market. In the automotive world, conventional wisdom states that adding a model to a brand or segment will increase sales--but that hasn't happened with hybrids. The number of hybrid offerings has almost doubled from 24 in 2009 to 47 in 2014--but U.S. hybrid sales haven't dramatically increased. In fact, hybrid market share actually declined from 2009 to 2010, and then again from 2013 to 2014. So if consumers aren't buying hybrids, what are they buying? It seems some hybrid early adopters are now switching to plug-in hybrids or electric cars stating that these models are just nicer to drive.
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Are US Hybrid Sales Peaking Already?

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  • I can't buy one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pem (1013437)
    I've been waiting for a new Mitsubishi i-MiEV for over two months.

    Are they peaking because nobody wants them, or because nobody wants to make them?

    • Re:I can't buy one (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday June 16, 2014 @04:49PM (#47249405) Journal

      Are they peaking because nobody wants them, or because nobody wants to make them?

      It's because they're as expensive as hell for their size, are mostly (but not always) gutless on hills and under a full load, and they originally didn't deliver the fuel savings as originally promised.

      There's also that whole 'gotta replace that uber-expensive-battery-pack-in-7-to-10-years-or-so' bit...
      At least with a gas engine, you have some hope of stretching the car's useful life to 15 years these days.

      • I thought that hybrids with very large caps still make sense, though? You still get the benefits of an electrical power train and running the engine (which also doesn't have to be all that large, since it only has to provide the average expected power) at optimum working point, the dynamics is fully covered by the caps (which should have a technical lifetime exceeding that one of the car, so you shouldn't have to worry about that). If only the caps were cheaper today...
      • I don't know about anybody else, but the Prius reminds me of a really fat kid that doesn't ever want to do anything and whines whenever you try to get him to so much as go outside. Just a combination of its appearance (kind of big and round without much space to actually put stuff in) and gutless, redundant power train. (Yes, it actually has two power trains; which is an otherwise inefficient design.)

        If I was in the market for a new car, I think by far I'd go for something Tesla.

        • by rsborg (111459) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:56PM (#47250371) Homepage

          If I was in the market for a new car, I think by far I'd go for something Tesla.

          If you can afford one, go for it. I'd do the same, but then again, I have a 10 year old Prius that's going fine (got a high-voltage battery replacement just last week - but that's covered under my state-mandated 10 year warranty) - cost to upgrade - $75k+, cost to keep my 50+mpg car? close to zero.

          Now if I could buy an EV or hybrid minivan (none of this Prius V bullshit, Toyota - you sell the Hybrid Estima in Japan, why not here!?!) - I'd buy one in a heartbeat and replace my Prius.

          btw, If you're complaint about the Prius appearance - what's the drag coefficient of your car? Is it as good as my 10 year old Prius? 'Cause that's why it looks like it does - it's part of it's design elegance.

          • by nabsltd (1313397) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:26PM (#47251479)

            btw, If you're complaint about the Prius appearance - what's the drag coefficient of your car? Is it as good as my 10 year old Prius? 'Cause that's why it looks like it does - it's part of it's design elegance.

            It's also why the Prius would get about 40mpg even if it had no hybrid features. If Toyota sold that car, they'd really corner the market, as it would have a better ROI than the hybrid Prius, and wouldn't have any risk about battery replacement (which isn't always covered by warranty).

        • Re:I can't buy one (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Macman408 (1308925) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:15AM (#47252351)

          I'm going to go ahead and assume that you didn't buy a "really fat kid" for yourself, and 'splain some things that I've learned as a nerdy Prius owner...

          First, it's not gutless as you might think. It's not going to win any awards for acceleration, but it can do 0-60 in 9.7 seconds. That's probably on the slower half of the scale, but still faster than a Yaris Hatchback or Matrix, as well as non-US models like the Avensis, Aygo, or Auris - and that's looking only at Toyota sedans. Most of the gutlessness comes from us schmucks inside the car, who are in no hurry to rush you to the next red light when we can get there at the same time as you, and with half as much fuel, by taking it easy. Some of the gutlessness comes from a software setting that adjusts the throttle response to the gas pedal's position; in Eco mode, you really have to mash the pedal if you want to move, while PWR mode makes it more like most American cars where it's jumpy if you so much as look at the gas pedal. In between is "Normal" mode. There are plenty of Prius owners who hate the car in anything but PWR mode because they like to accelerate fast.

          Second, it is a HUGE car on the inside relative to most of my friends' sedans. A good amount of the space is vertical, so it helps if whatever you're carrying is tall or can be stacked. But I've carried 3'x8' sheets of plywood, an 8-foot ladder, or 4 people and backpacking gear for a 4-day wilderness trip. Many people can carry several bicycles inside the car without taking them apart - my wife and I are both very tall, so we have to take off the front wheel of our bikes to fit our bikes in. Out of all my friends, none have cars that can carry any of those things - except one bicycle with the wheels removed, and the handlebars sticking out the window.

          Third, I'd say it doesn't really have two power trains; it has one power train of which the gasoline engine and two motor-generators are an integral part. The car would be incapable of driving if any of them are removed, although it'd be easier to remove the gasoline engine if anything. The Prius doesn't have a normal transmission; there are two planetary gearsets that connect the MGs and engine to the wheels. By adjusting the speed and direction of the MGs, pretty much any gear ratio can be obtained. It's sometimes called an "eCVT" because of this, but it could just as easily be called a single-speed transmission. Get rid of the electronic parts of the powertrain, and you'd have to put in a transmission instead to replace it. Also, you'd lose the regeneration abilities of being a hybrid. Of course, if you remove the engine, you'd have to use a much larger battery instead - and even then, the Prius motors are not designed for high-speed use (over 45 mph, the engine has to be spinning to keep the motors from over-revving; I think the limit is about 60 mph in the plug-in variant of the Prius). So both halves of the powertrain are really required for it to work, much less for it to work as efficiently as it does.

          That's not to say it's a car for everybody - and indeed, if your choices come down to a Tesla anything or a Prius, I'd go with the Tesla any day unless you plan on regularly exceeding its range in areas where high-speed charging is not available. But it's a good choice of cars for many people.

          That said, I'm not surprised that hybrid sales occasionally have a down year - but the trend still seems to be pretty positive. Even though they mention share dropping from 2009 to 2010, the hybrid share is still up about 15% since 2009, at about 3.2% of all cars. Meanwhile, EVs are starting to take off, and often catch the attention of the same eco-minded type that was purchasing the early hybrid models years ago. Still, they only amount to about 0.6% of all vehicle sales. But I don't think hybrids are a long-term solution, just like gas cars aren't either. Unless we start synthesizing gasoline from something other than oil, we'll need to find an alternative fuel sooner or later - whether that means EVs or something else, only time will tell.

          All I can say is that I hope Tesla gets other auto makers fired up, otherwise I may have to find a big pile of cash next time I want to buy a car...

      • I've got a 2002 Prius which still runs great. It's still using the factory battery pack, which isn't showing any signs of needing replacement.

        Admittedly, they're expensive. I recently got a 2013 Prius C as a second car, and the reasonable alternative would have been a Honda Fit for about two thirds of the price. But after driving a car with a no-shift transmission there's no way I'm going back to the stuttery shifts of an automatic. When I hit the gas, I want the car to go - not start going and then pause t

        • When I hit the gas, I want the car to go - not start going and then pause to think about what gear it should be in.

          I've never had that problem, not even when driving a manual transmission. The only thing that ever bothers me about manual transmission is knowing there's somebody *immediately* behind me on an uphill slope when I bring the transmission into first gear from neutral.

          • Re:I can't buy one (Score:5, Insightful)

            by damnbunni (1215350) on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:36PM (#47250257) Journal

            I hear this from people who drive a stick all the time, and I've never understood it.

            When I drive a stick, if I'm starting on a hill I pull the parking brake with my hand, keeping the button held in so it didn't latch, and not release it till I had enough traction with the engine to support the car so it didn't roll backwards.

            Doesn't anyone else do this?

            And as far as wanting a transmission that doesn't shift, you can get CVTs on non-hybrids, too. Most of them, however, are programmed to mimic an automatic's shift pattern because it's what people expect.

            • by mjwx (966435)

              I hear this from people who drive a stick all the time, and I've never understood it.

              When I drive a stick, if I'm starting on a hill I pull the parking brake with my hand, keeping the button held in so it didn't latch, and not release it till I had enough traction with the engine to support the car so it didn't roll backwards.

              Probably because the US doesn't teach people to drive manuals properly any more.

              What you described is called a "handbrake hill start" in Australia and is exactly the way to stop yourself from rolling back on a hill. Put the car in gear, hold the handbrake on, bring the clutch up to the friction point, push the accelerator to get the revs up and drop the handbrake... Simple and should take half the time the moron in front of you takes to drop their phone when they realise the lights have changed.

              You ca

            • by Richy_T (111409)

              Hill start was part of the UK driving test when I took it.

        • My 2002 had a pack replaced last fall at 170,000 miles. Two weeks later, a semi changed lanes into it. I kept the new battery and put it into a 2003 with 135,000 miles on it. Fully expect to get another 170K on it.

          What impressed me most was the reliability. At 170K miles the car still had over 50% of the original brake pads, all the original bulbs still work, etc. Changed the plugs at 120K Miles. Changed the 12 V battery 3 times. and regular oil and tire changes. Nothing broke on it in normal wear an

      • Re:I can't buy one (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ichijo (607641) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:27PM (#47249723) Homepage Journal

        There's also that whole 'gotta replace that uber-expensive-battery-pack-in-7-to-10-years-or-so' bit...

        You don't have to replace the whole pack all at once:

        The reality [forbes.com] is that there are 28 separate cells in the hybrid battery pack. When the unit starts to fail, only a handful of the individual cells are bad. What Prius Battery Repair of Houston does, and Toyota could do if it wanted to, is replace the bad hybrid battery pack with a reconditioned one to get the customer back on the road. Then, determine which cells are bad, and simply replace the bad battery cells, recondition the battery, and sell it to the next customer.

        The individual cells are only about $25 each on the street.

      • Agreed about the expensive part. Not really gutless though, they have good low end torque and do give very good MPG for non-lead footed drivers.

        I have looked at several hybrids and they are $10,000 more then the gassers such as the highlander. I am not paying that much for the hybrid option.

        • by Firethorn (177587) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:00PM (#47251329) Homepage Journal

          Let's check the math. [toyota.com]

          2014 Highlander 4WD Limited*: $41,960 18/24 mpg (21 averaged)
          2014 Highlander Hybrid Limited AWD: $48,160 27/28 mpg (27.5 averaged)
          Price difference: $6,200
          Fuel cost per mile, $4 gallon: 19 cents vs 14.5
          Savings per mile: 4.5 cents
          Break Even: 138k miles
          Time: 9.2 years.
          Conclusion: Not worth it.
          What if you're a 'city slicker'?
          Cost per mile: 22 cents vs 15, diff 7
          Break Even: 89k miles, 5.9 years. Worth it.

          *Keeping the trim levels the same t

      • They are a bit pricey, yes; HOWEVER, my Fusion Hybrid works out pretty well in hills without issues. Granted, hills tend to reduce the hybrid benefit going up them--but that's beside the point.<br><br>Let me give you some numbers.<br><br>I drove from Baltimore, Maryland to Quebec City, Canada last month. Not only did I drive it to Quebec City, but I drove it up into the mountains of "Parc National des Grand-Jardins" in Charlevoix, Quebec. This mountain drive took us up into the cloud
        • For what it's worth, Ford quotes 47/47 for the MPG, and I achieved 46.1 driving through mountain terrain in the northeast Appalachian and Laurentian Mountain ranges. Feel free to debate all you wish.
          • I didn't "hyper mile" or any of the other weird tricks that some hybrid users use. I made liberal use of cruise control except on the 10-15% mountain grades in Quebec. I maintained roughly about 65-70mph over the speed limit on all US highway driving, with 100-110km/h in Quebec.<br><br>You have to learn NOT to lead foot your car, not tailgate, and just cruise. Ease into your stops, and try to limit the stark contrasts in speed. Don't tailgate the next guy, slam your breaks until you're at 0-5, t
      • by geekoid (135745)

        and after 7 to 10 years you will need to replace the transmission, brakes, and other things on a 'standard' vehicle.
        So how much are batteries after that?

    • Re:I can't buy one (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <[ten.frow] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:18PM (#47249641)

      I've been waiting for a new Mitsubishi i-MiEV for over two months.
      Are they peaking because nobody wants them, or because nobody wants to make them?

      The i.MIEV is not a hybrid. It's electric. Which has its own sales problems because the powertrain is so simple and robust that it requires very little maintenance, so dealers HATE selling them (they don't make as much profit on new car sales since their margins always get squeezed and someone has to pay the interest on those 0% financing and stuff). Dealers love it when customers come back for service, because service is a high-margin item. High enough they toss in stuff like free oil changes and other cheap things to encourage returning. And do it every 3-6 months, at that.

      An EV doesn't have many moving parts - just the motor, gearbox and wheels. Unlike an ICE, you don't need to do much maintenance beyond ensuring the coolant levels are OK, vital fluids (like say, brake fluid) are sufficient, etc. You can easily get away without having service them for 2 years or more. Heck, Tesla offers a "we-cover-everything-but-tires" service for $600 annually (including consumables!), and while cheaper than most vehicle services over the same period, is also optional and doesn't void your warranty if you don't do it.

      Hybrids are great for dealers because the ICE requires regular servicing, and the motor couplers (for those where the motor and engine can drive the wheels) introduce more complexity for servicing (more $$$).

      The other thing is, well, a lot of hybrids have piss-poor gas mileage that can be obtained with an all-gas vehicle. And some hybrids just plain suck or have poor reviews.

    • I'm waiting for a model that is all-electric, won't require a $10,000 battery replacement after ten years (or ever, preferably), has over a 300 mile range when being driven aggressively with the A/C and/or heater running and the audio system blasting, is or can-switch-to 4WD with significant ground clearance, can carry significant cargo preferably in a pickup truck format with an extended cab or perhaps a roomy SUV format, and costs somewhere under 50k.

      First trigger would be ultracaps or some other transfor

      • Not 10K (Score:4, Informative)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday June 16, 2014 @06:28PM (#47250195) Homepage Journal

        2001-2003 Toyota Prius (1st generation) - $3,649 minus $1,350 "core credit"
        2004-2008 Toyota Prius (2nd generation) - $3,649 minus $1,350 "core credit"
        2009-present Toyota Prius (3rd generation) - $3,939 minus $1,350 "core credit"
        Toyota Camry Hybrid - $3,541, core credit deducted
        Toyota Highlander Hybrid - $4,848, core credit deducted

        "has over a 300 mile range when being driven aggressively with the A/C and/or heater running and the audio system blasting"
        that would be "All of them"

        You're an idiot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @04:43PM (#47249367)

    When I can but a Toyota Matrix for half the price, get twice the cargo space and still get 38 mpg. I think consumers are realizing that hybrids are just a clever way for automakers to tax people who suck at math. Meanwhile the air in Beijing is still chewable so the saving the planet crowd might be weakening too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kilfarsnar (561956)

      That's what I was thinking. Hybrids often don't get good enough gas mileage to warrant the extra cost. Now with more diesels hitting the market, you can get good mileage and still have good power.

      Then there's folks like me who wouldn't be interested in a hybrid, but would jump into an electric car in a heartbeat. What can I say, I like fast cars. And electrics get you efficiency and torque. What's not to like (except charging times)?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vux984 (928602)

        And electrics get you efficiency and torque.

        But take most of the fun out of driving fast. No engine, no rpm, no manual transmission.

        Its like being given a steak dinner in pre-chewed form. Its all there, but its still ruined. :)

        When I bought my current sports car I shopped for the manual 6 speed transmission, not because I imagine I can shift better than the computer in the tiptronic version. but because just its so much more engaging and in turn more fun to drive the manual.

        Electrics are rapidly reaching th

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No fun? Dude. Go test drive a Tesla and you will change your mind. There is absolutely nothing like it. The lack of gear switching is exactly what makes it so mind-blowingly amazing.

        • Your opinion is just that. Your opinion :)

          And quite different from my opinion :)

          I drove a sport A4 with a "engine," "transmission," and all that fun stuff.

          Now I drive a Nissan Leaf, and find the low speed torque, and the ability to concentrate on just speed and driving to be way more fun that a loud, dangerous, and inelegant ICE.

          Also, ICE produce lots of deadly fumes. I can sit in my "idling" Leaf. You can't sit in your idling ICE/death box. :)

        • by geekoid (135745)

          yes, some people like you need to prove their manhood by driving like an ass.
          Rational people just want to get somewhere.

    • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:39PM (#47249815) Homepage

      The Matrix is discontinued.

      A 4-door Yaris will probably come in at $16.5k new. It'll give you 15.6 cu ft of cargo space and burn a gallon of gas to go 30/36 miles.

      A Prius will come in around $25.8 new. It'll give you 21.6 cu ft of cargo space and burn a gallon of gas to go 51/48 miles, while having a much more comfortable interior.

      A better comparison would be the Prius C, which will cost about $20.1k new. With that you've got 17.1 cu ft of cargo space and go 53/46 on a gallon of gas.

      Toyota doesn't actually sell a car cheaper than the Prius C with more cargo space.

    • Reality check. (Score:4, Informative)

      by guidryp (702488) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:58PM (#47249965)

      When I can but a Toyota Matrix for half the price, get twice the cargo space and still get 38 mpg. I think consumers are realizing that hybrids are just a clever way for automakers to tax people who suck at math.

      Really it sounds like you suck at math, but full points for hyperbole.

      The Matrix gets 28 MPG, not 38 MPG. (vs 50 MPG for the Prius)
      http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg... [fueleconomy.gov]

      The Matrix doesn't have twice the cargo space. According the same link, the Matrix has LESS cargo space than the Prius.

      The Matrix wasn't half the price (It Appears the Matrix is no more), but again according to the above. Matrix was $19275 vs $24200 for Prius. Hardly half. The Base Prius is also a lot better equipped than a Base Matrix.

      Also the average driver would save $850 annually on gas driving the Prius over the Matrix(if gas prices stay the same), meaning it would take 5.8 years to make up the price difference, after that it is gravy and you have a better equipped car, and more savings going forward.

    • by geekoid (135745)
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday June 16, 2014 @04:49PM (#47249407)
    It was inevitable: Peak Hybrid had to happen. It's getting more and more difficult to extract crude hybrid from the lower levels of the tax code, which makes it more expensive to dole out. And, they're running out of room in the Whole Foods parking lot, where things are getting real, man.
    • by tepples (727027)
      You laugh, but apparently crude hybrid is a thing [batteryuniversity.com].
      • Absolutely. Your link mentions lithium, cobalt, and graphite as examples of peak rare earth metals which are unlikely to keep pace with any significant increase in global demand.

        Other alternative energy advances are also handicapped by infinitesimal earthly reserves of essential metals: tellurium for solar panels, terbium in new gen compact fluorescent bulbs, and even platinum as a fuel cell catalyst.

        There's a silver lining, though, as this buoys the chance that we'll be mining off-planet sooner rather th

  • by ADRA (37398)

    Hybrids will always be at least a fmall fraction of the economic realities of the automotive industry. Most notably:

    1. Perception - Does this car add any perceived benefit to myself (smug factor)
    2. Gas - Higher gas prices will influnce total cost of ownership (TCO), and for those who bother to calculate it, a rise / reduction in fuel costs should factor into demand
    3. Electricity - When you pug in at home, your home electrical costs rise, so in order to maintain TCO benefits, electrical costs should rise slo

    • by netsavior (627338)
      2014 Corolla - Edmunds.com TCO = $35,728 [edmunds.com]
      2014 Prius - Edmunds.com TCO = $35,727 [edmunds.com]

      (Edmunds TCO includes gasoline, repairs, financing, taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc for 5 years)

      With savings like that, why the heck aren't people lining up out the door for the Prius?? I mean, 1 dollar over 5 years... that is like 20 cents a year, IN YOUR POCKET. Cash money, man.

      **To be fair, there is almost a 3800 dollar TCO advantage for camry hybrid vs camry base model... but 760 dollars a year isn't exactly goin
      • Re:Economics (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MightyYar (622222) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:29PM (#47249737)

        The TCO estimates also use 15,000 miles/year as their base. Some people are fortunate enough to choose a place to live that is close to their job (or vice versa). My wife puts a whole 3500 miles on her Camry each year and I put around 7000 on the Sienna. They simply don't make hybrids or electrics that are cost effective for us.

      • 2014 **To be fair, there is almost a 3800 dollar TCO advantage for camry hybrid vs camry base model... but 760 dollars a year isn't exactly going to drop a lot of panties.

        The solution for X number of panties in the previous equation is greater in inverse proportion to your fancy for the smaller panties.

  • New Car Buyers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546) on Monday June 16, 2014 @04:50PM (#47249427)
    The number of new-car buyers is relatively inelastic. What you're seeing is the number of buyers that are willing to pay a premium for a hybrid over a vehicle with a conventional transmission.

    Some buyers of hybrids actually want 100% electric cars. The hybrid was settling. Now that there are some 100% electrics, those buyers won't buy another hybrid.

    Some buyers can only afford the cheapest car or only want to afford the cheapest car with the most fuel economy, and often that's a subcompact with a small four-cylinder engine and highway differential gearing, and in many instances that car gets as good fuel economy as a hybrid of of the next size-class up.

    Lastly, hybrids often are equipped with more options or luxury options, which pushes up the price.

    If you want hybrids to sell more, make them cheaper to buy, and sell them based on their fuel economy as the feature, not simply that they're a hybrid. That'll help attract buyers that want to avoid the dreaded "H word", and could get subcompact economy buyers to consider hybrids.

    I'd personally like an all-electric, but I don't want a goofy looking car in the process. I want something like a modern Dart or 200 with a full-electric drivertrain, like the setup used in the Fiat 500e. But since Marchionnie doesn't even want to sell the 500e and is only doing so because California's laws require it, I doubt we'll see a Dart-electric or 200e anytime soon.
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday June 16, 2014 @04:51PM (#47249439) Journal

    We paid extra to rent a Prius went we went out West a few years ago. Don't recall which model year it was, 2007 or 2008 I think but could be wrong there. Either way I came away less than impressed. Strike One for me is anything with an automatic transmission, which makes me a relic I suppose, but there it is. The weird issue was with the seemingly hesitant throttle. There were times (turning left in front of oncoming traffic) where I stomped the gas and it seemed as though the computer had to stop and think, "Hmm.... electric, gas, or both?" and the car barely moved. Once it got going it had ample pick-up, for an automatic, but that 1-2 second delay took a lot of getting used to.

    After a week of driving that thing I came away with the feeling that I would never own one. To be sure, there were some really neat things about it, like the dead silence when cruising at low speeds on the electric drive. Other than the throttle delay it handled as well as any mid-priced car I've driven. The build quality was nice and about what you'd expect in the price range. The gas mileage was a lot less impressive than what I was expecting, though the large proportion of highway miles and my penchant for speeding in wide open spaces (did you know the Prius will happily cruise at 110mph?) doubtless had something to do with that. Frankly if most of your driving is highway I don't see the point, my $17,000 non-hybrid Honda Civic is competitive with the Prius when it comes to highway driving.... I can milk 43-44mpg out of my Civic without trying that hard, and that's despite living in a hilly region.

    • I own a couple of Prius vehicles and I've never noticed the delay. That sounds kinda scary if it ever did happen. I wonder if yours was defective.

      Going 110 probably had a lot to do with not saving money. I drive at a relaxing 60 - 65 mph and I get great gas mileage.

    • by SumDog (466607)

      The really early Hybrid Civics had manual options. But they were primitavie "let's just slap an electric motor between the transmission and engine" designs. I'm with you though. I don't even like the paddle shifters on the new GTRs (even though I realize it still has a clutch and it's a lot faster...just give me a pedal to launch with. If you spend $80k on a car, you should at least get that).

      The Tesla high end roaders are 3-speeds I believe. Not sure if they have a clutch though, but there is a shifter lev

    • by quantaman (517394)

      Frankly if most of your driving is highway I don't see the point, my $17,000 non-hybrid Honda Civic is competitive with the Prius when it comes to highway driving.... I can milk 43-44mpg out of my Civic without trying that hard, and that's despite living in a hilly region.

      I think that's an important point. The hybrids aren't peaking because people aren't interested in fuel efficient vehicles. They're peaking because there's so many fuel efficient vehicles available [energytrendsinsider.com].

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      Frankly if most of your driving is highway I don't see the point, my $17,000 non-hybrid Honda Civic is competitive with the Prius when it comes to highway driving.... I can milk 43-44mpg out of my Civic without trying that hard, and that's despite living in a hilly region.

      If you're a highway warrior for the forseeable future your best bet is diesel. Electric power-trains truly show their strength in city driving due to the ability to regenerate from braking. On the highway the savings are too marginal.

      As for your 1-2 second wait until you get power - that's probably the electric motor putting energy towards starting the gasoline engine to provide the power you want. A strong hybrid(IE one capable of highway speeds without using the gasoline engine) would fix that, but is

    • by jratcliffe (208809) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:17PM (#47249631)

      The gas mileage was a lot less impressive than what I was expecting, though the large proportion of highway miles and my penchant for speeding in wide open spaces (did you know the Prius will happily cruise at 110mph?) doubtless had something to do with that. Frankly if most of your driving is highway I don't see the point, my $17,000 non-hybrid Honda Civic is competitive with the Prius when it comes to highway driving.... I can milk 43-44mpg out of my Civic without trying that hard, and that's despite living in a hilly region.

      On the highway, the hybrid aspect becomes essentially irrelevant. If you took the Prius, and replaced the battery with an equivalent weight of lead, you'd get essentially the same highway mileage. It gets good highway mileage because its a (relatively) light car with excellent aerodynamics (like the Civic). Hybrids really shine (on a MPG basis) off the highway, where you recover the lost energy from braking in city traffic.

      As an example, look at the Ford Fusion, which is available in a hybrid and non-hybrid version. On the highway, the hybrid gets 41mpg, vs. 37mpg for the regular version. In the city, however, the hybrid gets 44mpg, vs 25mpg for the regular version.

    • by guacamole (24270)

      Your information is out of date. The 2012- Prius uses a bigger 1.8L engine and a CVT transmission. The throttle response is excellent for a zippy commuter car. Thanks to well calibrated CVT transmission there is never a hesitation and jerkiness in shifts you can experience with the automatics. So, in my personal opinion, the 2012- Prius nails the drive train pretty well. It's an excellent car. The only issue right now is the price. For 24-25K you get a base model with very low equipment, even seat adjustmen

  • I switched from Hybrid to Diesel.

    (2010 Honda Insight to 2014 VW Golf TDI).

    They're popular in Europe, and I guess finally starting to get a little more popular in the US now. This year Mazda is introducing a Diesel in the US for the first time (I think) with the Mazda 6 SkyActiv-D.

    • by Xaedalus (1192463)
      But do you like the TDI and diesel performance?
      • by praxis (19962)

        But do you like the TDI and diesel performance?

        I do. Ten years ago when I was a teenager and thought acceleration is everything I'd not have but really they're more than enough for driving in the US city I drive in.

        • by vistic (556838)

          I think maybe performance has improved. I have a hard time starting from a full stop and not squealing my tires a lot of times.

          • by praxis (19962)

            I think maybe performance has improved. I have a hard time starting from a full stop and not squealing my tires a lot of times.

            Yes, the TDI performance is perfectly reasonable. I was comparing it to the gasoline GTI I had as a teenager which had a lot more.

      • by vistic (556838)

        So far I love it. I got my Insight in July 2009. So coming from 5 years and 85,000 miles of driving a Hybrid almost anything is going to feel pretty powerful. But the TDI has a turbocharger and I feel it kick in all the time (may also be due to how I drive). I don't have experience driving really sporty cars, but I can say it's definitely more powerful and handles better than any of the cars I owned before the Insight hybrid (namely: Jeep Cherokee, Pontiac Grand Am V6, Honda Civic).

  • With the coming $4.50+/gallon gas coming this summer due to the combination of Ukrain and Iraq (plus screw you, we're big oil) I think you'll see sales jump up again. I wonder how many of the folks that bought pickups this spring (the big jump in US auto sales was mostly in the light truck and SUV segment) will be wishing they had bought something with a bit better fuel economy?

    • by compro01 (777531)

      With the coming $4.50+/gallon gas coming this summer due to the combination of Ukrain and Iraq (plus screw you, we're big oil) I think you'll see sales jump up again.

      Yeah, but new conventional vehicles are awfully close to hybrids in terms of fuel economy, without the extra cost. And then fuck-everything-we're-doing-full-electric is eating into the hybrid's market share from the other side.

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:12PM (#47249597) Journal

    I got me a 350Z convertible.

    When you don't drive many miles, fuel efficiency is moot. Fun factor is not.

  • Very simple reason (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The reason Prius owners aren't buying new hybrids: because their Priuses are still running great. Mine is ten years old and runs as well as a brand new one.

    • by St.Creed (853824)

      Amen to that. There's a reason they give you 8 years of factory warranty - they can afford it. A few other car makers can't because the repairs under warranty would bankrupt them.

      I bought a second hand Prius, 5yr old, last year. Runs like new. The electronics and the drive are incredibly reliable. The start battery however, is not so great. But apart from that, it's a much better car than the other hybrids I tried. The Mercedes I drove before that one was a better car, but unreliable and with less fuel econ

    • by Leomania (137289)

      This.

      The point made earlier by a poster regarding acceleration lag is very true, he described it perfectly. Other than that, the Prius is a great car. Mine has 160K miles on it and it runs the same as the day I bought it, and it has been more reliable than any other car I've ever owned (and I have owned many). Brake linings never replaced. Not a bunch of rattles and squeaks, although it's not the quietest care on noisy roads. I'm planning to take mine to 300K miles if at all possible, and I know others who

  • In most cases, if what you care about is fuel savings, there are better approaches. I got a Mazda3 with a SkyActiv engine, and I've never gotten below 30 MPG, and have sometimes gotten into the low 40's. That for a reasonably sized car that is comfortably under $20k, and there isn't much case for a hybrid. You've also got to consider that fuel economy only has a decent payoff time if you drive a lot, and most people who drive a lot probably do it on the highway, where hybrid technology offers little benefit
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:50PM (#47249905)
    All one manufacturer needs to do is be able to make one without bells and whistles, and aim for economy. Make a plug in hybrid for under $16,000, and people who care about their wallet will buy enmass. It doesn't make sense to buy a plugin hybrid when you can buy a cheaper car that comes with "free gasoline." When I look at cars and go,"Okay, I could by a hybrid or a car ten grand cheaper, the 100,000 miles of free gasoline means it isn't economically sensible." A plug in hybrid that is economically feasible could vastly improve poor people's lives. They could go from store to store shopping for deals if they wanted since the biggest reason not to now is that the gasoline overhead of traveling.

    I guess as long as some people are still buying the more expensive hybrids that is good for the future of the technology to come down in price, but I don't know any manufacturer who has done it yet.
  • by decaffeinated (70626) on Monday June 16, 2014 @05:51PM (#47249917)

    My wife and I purchased a 2005 Prius (back when they were quite uncommon). Wife's car. She loved it. Very reliable. Great mileage in warm weather, decent mileage in winter (37 mpg).

    I liked her Prius so much I bought a 2010 Prius. Better gas mileage than the 2005, plus the option to boost power on demand, made this car a dream to drive. The interior fit, though, is sad (annoying rattle under the glove box).

    We recently upgraded my wife's 2005 Prius to a 2012 Chevy Volt. OMG. So quiet! And the initial torque when you step on the accelerator...wow, just wow. The 2012 Volt makes my 2010 Prius seem like a go cart. My wife's current game with the car is to see how little gas she can use. So far, 2 tanks consumed and both of those were mandatory burnoffs required by the Volt after the gas sat in the car (unused) for 12 months. Her current lifetime gas mileage (as recorded by Chevy) is 597 MPG.

    My next car will not be a Prius...it will be an electric of some type.

    • by guacamole (24270)

      The Volt is still extremely expensive. The base MSRP is 40 grand and you can buy it cheaper only due to the government subsidies. If I had some 35K grand burning my pocket, I'd personally look at getting a Honda Accord hybrid. This car beats diesels in both torque and fuel economy, and unlike Volt, you can take it on a long trip.

      • Umm, the Volt has a gas tank so that you can drive from one end of the country to the other. When the Volt is driven gas only, it's EPA MPG rating is about 35 MPG. Not bad...not great, either.

        We paid a lot more than 40K for the car (before trade-in), but both my wife and I are environmentalists. We are committed to using less carbon in our lives and willing to pay for the privilege. Every time our Volt uses gas to charge the battery (when we drive outside it's electric range), we say that the "Volt had

  • Seriously, our subsidy program is the absolute WORST approach going.
    We should kill the subsidies for all small-medium size hybrid passenger vehicles, and only have it available for serial hybrids on large passenger and all commercial vehicles. Why do this? Because with a serial vehicle, it becomes trivial to switch the vehicle from a gas generator, to say a nat gas. generator, an H2 fuel cell, or even a flow battery. Basically, it allows our fleet to move across different fuels as economics dictate.

    In addition, all electric vehicles should be based on Mile Per Charge or MPC, as shown by EPA. If a passenger vehicle gets less than 100 MPC, then it means only a 50 mile range MAX. The reality is that it will be 35-45 range. This will encourage daytime charging, which will increase daytime demand, which will increase the price of electricity. IOW, all aspects of society will be subsidizing these kinds of cars. As such, there should be little to NO subsidy on these.
    Likewise, if a passenger vehicle gets 100-150 MPC, it should get around 5-7K subsidy.
    And if a passenger vehicle gets above 150 MPC, give it 10-15K. Why? Because these will always be night chargers, EXCEPT when going for long distance.

    OTOH, if a commercial vehicle such as a USPS vehicle which only drives less than 40 miles PER DAY TOTAL is ideal for a large subsidy. The reason is that they will be charging at night time. I am not opposed to giving such a vehicle 10-15K subsidy.

    Regardless, we should start a tax on all daytime chargers that are available to use. Add .01/KWH that feeds into the state's DOT where it occurred at. That should help slow down the wailing by the far right, but of course, it will never stop it.

    The interesting item is the nat gas vehicles. A smart move here is to come up with a tax that starts high and drops every year for the next 5-6 years. In the first 2 years, it should be used to get LNG stations along federal highways within 100 miles of each other, and at least 3 CNG stations in every single county in the nation. For the next 3-4 years, all of it should go into NEW commercial and large passenger vehicles that use Nat Gas. Larger subsidies for serial hybrids. By doing this, it gets manufacturers to switch over and for companies to buy new vehicles. Sometime later, other vehicles will switch IFF the price of nat gas is low.
  • by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:05PM (#47250447)

    It seems some hybrid early adopters are now switching to plug-in hybrids or electric cars

    Plug-in hybrids are hybrids. "We find that if we exclude many of the more recent models of hybrids from our analysis, the number of people buying hybrids isn't increasing."

    Well duh...

  • by lokidjm (3505611) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:21PM (#47250595)
    My wife and I both have our own cars to drive to work. She drives a compact SUV that we have had for a few years and I drive a Nissan LEAF. We can take the gas car if we need to go on a long trip and we have the LEAF to use the rest of the time. When we go out we always take the LEAF. It is much cheaper to operate and it is a blast to drive. Most of the families I know with two cars would be much happier with one gas car and one electric car.
  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Monday June 16, 2014 @07:31PM (#47250689)

    The real solution is pure electric

    The energy source may be batteries, supercapacitors or hydrogen..or something new??

    Hybrids are at best an intermediate solution

    The good news is that they advanced the manufacturing experience of electric motors and control electronics for vehicle use ,,and started consumers thinking that gasoline is not the only path

  • by Controlio (78666) on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:33PM (#47251153)

    1) I need a car that will do 80 consecutive miles without a charge.
    2) I need a car that can go 300 or 400 miles - in whatever manner.

    That means one of three things:

    1) A rapid charge after 80 miles (sub 15 minutes)
    2) One of those sweet-looking NASCAR-esque battery swaps [teslamotors.com] that Tesla does, or
    3) A hybrid

    It also has to hit a reasonable price point to make it comparable to an efficient gasoline burner, i.e. sub-$45,000.

    Less than 80 consecutive miles and my initial purchase cost is no longer offset by the fuel savings. Less than a 400-mile trip and I have to own a second car for business trips. Both of these are show-stoppers for me, and anyone else who has any sort of reasonable daily work commute.

    If Tesla can achieve their goal of making a car for $35,000 - I'm in. If I can get a plug-in hybrid with a battery pack that will go 80 miles, I'm in. Until then, I'm stuck with high-MPG gas burners - which for the time being are still more cost efficient over their life span.

    Though ideologically, even at a higher price point, I'd be more than happy to stop purchasing gas, even at a higher overall cost. I'm just waiting for someone to make a practical vehicle that will let me do just that.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday June 16, 2014 @10:05PM (#47251679) Homepage Journal

    I want a BMW ActiveHybrid, or a Saab hybrid. Unfortunately with the second death of SAAB, the hybrid 9-3 eAWD project was killed off in favor of pure EVs alongside the existing 9-3 ICE model. In the case of BMW, the ActiveHybrid3 is available only as RWD, not xDrive (AWD).

    So, for an all wheel drive sedan I'm sticking with ICE and trading in my Saab on either a used 9-3 XWD or a new 335 xDrive. I wish someone made the hybrid I want (an AWD/XWD sports sedan), but they don't. It seems the only AWD hybrid options right now are either extremely high end exotic hybrids or SUVs - the former are not in my budget and not practical for NH winters anyway, and I do not want an SUV for a daily driver.

  • by speedlaw (878924) on Monday June 16, 2014 @10:08PM (#47251685) Homepage
    I do 30k per year. Back in 03, I bought a car with 25 mpg. It was fine at $2 per galllon. In 08 I bought a car that got 17 mpg. Joke was on me, gas doubled shortly thereafter. New car time. Euro diesel experience, rental and relatives, at $10 per gallon, was instructive. Here in the US, though, cheap is VW, moderate BMW, expensive MB. Hybrid is great for short distances and city. I considered and drove the Volt, but it was going "gas" at 40 miles.... A VW TDi diesel gets close to 40 mpg at 80 mph. I'd love the e90 320d I rented in Berlin, but that never made it over to North America. Diesel has great torque....pulls constantly, and other than winning 0-60 drag races, is a better overall package for the normal driver. I'm only limited by tires around town. My 3 series wins on a highway, but for city or normal commuting, the less horsepower diesel with more torque is more useful than the bigger horsepower car. We drove around bavaria with a 320d and a 316i. The diesel spanked the gas car on the autobahn. At the end of the same trip at same speeds, the gas car used a tank and a half more fuel, which meant $180 in fuel costs. (they are same price in Germany-not in US). Different tools for different jobs. I've had a few different cars, and a diesel car is like the old big block two barrel version of the big American car. Huge pull off the line, just don't spin it up. (The diametric opposite of the Euro car-like my Mk. 2 16v GTi) I'm still amazed that in Berlin I saw Chrysler minivans with 4 cyl turbodiesels but none in the US...on the very same school run.
  • by pr100 (653298) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @03:10AM (#47252495)

    The summary suggests that plug-in hybrids are something different from hybrids - surely that's wrong: they're just a particular kind of hybrid.

The sooner all the animals are extinct, the sooner we'll find their money. - Ed Bluestone

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