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Toyota to Move to All Hybrid Vehicles By 2012 660

ftumph writes "Toyota has announced that all their vehicles will be gas-electric hybrids by 2012. The plan is to eliminate the current $3,000 per vehicle additional cost for hybrid engines through mass production."
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Toyota to Move to All Hybrid Vehicles By 2012

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  • Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by terraformer ( 617565 ) <> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:01AM (#4571272) Journal
    Finally, it is about time that an auto manufacturer step up to the plate. Too bad it is not an american mfg.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:28AM (#4571331)
      The American manufacturers will be the last to do something like this, because they understand what Americans like in vehicles. I want my sleek lines and throaty V8. I want a car that goes 79 mph down the road without a complaint about hills, and that has an extra 70 mph on top of that, at least 20 of which are right there when I ask for them in order to pass someone. I want a car that's fun to drive, with tight steering, hot acceleration, and good brakes. I want a car that's challenging and interesting to drive, with ABS and traction control that I can turn off when I feel the need to put new tires on. I want a car that expresses my personality. Or, on the other hand, I'd also love to have a truck that I can call a truck. Not a hybrid SUV. Not a POS. But a real pickup truck, like some manufacturers still make even if they forgot how for about 5 years in the mid- to late 90s. A truck with horsepower, heavy frame, fifth-wheel ball, easy-off tailgate, etc. - a truck that can haul or pull anything I throw at it within some semblance of reason.

      These aren't possible with hybrids, at this point. When they are, then you'll see American vehicles with hybrid engines. But not beforehand, if they're real Americans.
      • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

        by JanneM ( 7445 )
        These aren't possible with hybrids, at this point. When they are, then you'll see American vehicles with hybrid engines. But not beforehand, if they're real Americans.

        So you are saying 'real' americans are all overcompensating for something?

        And, BTW, it certainly _is_ possible with hybrids.
        • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:41AM (#4571369)
          Then let me rephrase: The current mindset that car manufacturers put into hybrid engine technology takes away its viability for use in sports cars and pickup trucks. (It's possible with hybrids, yes; but only possible if you put the right effort forth, which nobody appears to be doing, thus making it impossible.)

          As to overcompensating for something, if you're trying to imply that the only use for a sports car or a pickup truck is as a penis extension, then you've had some kind of sick self esteem issues pounded into your head at some point. Face it, trucks are useful and sports cars are fun to drive. Why would I ever want to be bored when I could be excited, and the only necessary change is what car I'm in?
          • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Exedore ( 223159 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @12:20PM (#4571922)

            The current mindset that car manufacturers put into hybrid engine technology takes away its viability for use in sports cars and pickup trucks. (It's possible with hybrids, yes; but only possible if you put the right effort forth, which nobody appears to be doing, thus making it impossible.)

            Errrrm... I think that's sorta what Toyota's announcement is about: "We're going to put forth the effort to do this."

          • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Informative)

            by Listen Up ( 107011 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @03:09PM (#4572899)

            Being an American, born and true, the part of your post that bothers me the most is the slam that (paraphrase) "Only a TRUE American would buy a piece of shit, gas guzzling, below sub-par performance on the world stage, cheaply made, heavy, highly inefficient engine, fall apart after 100,000 miles, American made car." For example, my fiancee (who is also American pure and true) just purchased a German engineered, German manufactured, and German produced Audi A6 2.8 Quattro. Every American made car is a piece of shit when you own a car as beautifully made and engineered as that vehicle. It makes you laugh or grin every time you see any car engineered in America.
            The truth of the matter is not the Americanism of buying a POS American engineered vehicle. It is the American business model...Make the car as cheaply as possible and sell it for as much as possible. And if you can't sell the car on merits, start calling the properly and better engineered vehicles names...Rice burners, Nazi mobiles, etc. etc. I am an engineer with a deep passion for World Rally Sport. Unlike what MOST Americans think, it doesn't take any talent to make a car go fast in a straight line. Sure, your Corvette goes somewhat fast (that is a matter of opinion), but try to corner with it or bring it onto any kind of race or track which isn't an oval, and your Corvette shows just how much of a front heavy, over-rated piece of shit it is.
            The only thing that is American about you and your post is the shear ignorance of the American people is shining though. If you understood world class performance, anything short of an AWD (All Wheel Drive), turbocharged (single or twin), 4 cylinder (inline or horizontally opposed), or even 6 cylinder, is simply a complete POS. Your attitude is what leads people to believe that NASCAR is actually a race, much less a sport. NASCAR is simply American white trash soap opera. You put one of those oval running, RWD, POS American vehicles on a real race course and you will see just how fast they get laughed off the face of the Earth.
            You have an American V8 or V6 or I4 car that can out accelerate, out corner, and out perform a Subaru WRX, WRX STi or a Mitsubishi Evo IV, V, VI, VII or the rally edition Audi Quattro (for a small example) and I will call you a liar straight to your face. And then laugh as I leave you in the dust. I have personally seen a Subaru WRX race a modified Chevy Camero SS and the Chevy lost. I would have died laughing if that little race involved any real cornering or tracks. Oh, and you can buy the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi EVO 7 (available in 2003) in the United States. Cadillac tried to race in the French Le Mans 24 Hour and got laughed off the track by the Audi direct injection race car. Cadillac never showed up again. Ford of Europe is the only car company with an American tie that has ever been able to perform on a world circuit rally race course. And the best part is is that the Ford car isn't even American engineered. In order for Ford to compete, they had to buy another countries more competent automotive engineers and put the Ford label on their car. That is hilarious. Then Ford goes and claims it to be a Ford and American, when the only thing American about the car is the Ford label on the hood.
            And as far as big trucks go, considering that the world does not revolve around the United States, how in the world does the other 6.1 billion people on the Earth survive without big American trucks? Sure, they are useful...for roughly 1% of the American population. The rest are simply used because it has been determined that large trucks imply roughness, ruggedness, outdoorsness, individuality, superiority, safety, and masculinity. None of the above are true. I have seen plenty of trucks and SUV's tipped on their tops or sides because the driver (where I live in the US) was trying to avoid a deer at about 55/65 MPH (and these were not all Ford Explorers). Not even one car though. So, safety is a total joke. 4WD...right. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, only 1% of the population has ever used their 4WD if they had it. It didn't take a survey to tell me that. I go to work every single day and in our parking lot at work alone I see almost 25 big, American trucks...most of them driven by fat, short, women who smoke who have never really used their trucks in their entire lives. The other ones are used by desk jockey, middle aged men, none of whom live outside of the city (my engineering assistant just purchased a new Chevy Blazer the other week...and she lives 3 blocks from here).
            All that your post showed is that apparently the only TRUE Americans are the dumb, uneducated, V8 driving, RWD morons (or FWD morons who try to race me from the stoplights in their Saturns..ha ha ha) that everyone else in the world still laughs at. I am American. I am educated. I look for quality in engineering and I have yet to find any quality, ingenuity, or competent engineering in any American engineered automobiles. But, one thing that makes me sick is that American's pride themselves on being stupid and ignorant and that the world revolves around the US in all aspects. I consider myself more American than you because I can admit my countries faults, admit that other countries and other engineers do things completely better, and still love my country for the things that are good about it, and educate the uneducated in my country (enlightening the V8 driving morons among others). You should be American and educate yourself and stopping thinking the entire world revolves around you and your US-centric attitude (especially about American automotive engineering). It's all about better automotive engineering, which the rest of the world knows that US has the worst. Oh, that new revolutionary GM diesel engine. That's right. It's made my Isuzu. Ooops.
          • As to overcompensating for something, if you're trying to imply that the only use for a sports car or a pickup truck is as a penis extension, then you've had some kind of sick self esteem issues pounded into your head at some point.

            I can't say what it is like where you live, but around here I frequently see other guys in trucks and sports cars peel out past old women as fast as they possibly can, blaring their engine like hell. If that's not trying to make up for a small penis, I don't know what is. At least, that's what my girlfriend frequently states. :p Yeah, you're cool Mr. speedy. You just nearly killed someone.

            FWIW, I've *never* seen a woman try to frighten others on the road as they pass. They don't seem to need nearly as much attention on the road.
      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

        by c.derby ( 574103 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:44AM (#4571381)
        damn, when did denis leary start posting on /. ? ;)

      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

        by phuturephunk ( 617641 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:47AM (#4571386)
        "These aren't possible with hybrids, at this point. When they are, then you'll see American vehicles with hybrid engines. But not beforehand, if they're real Americans." . . please now . . . I'm quite happy with the size of my penis, I don't need a small block chevy to give me the warm and fuzzy . . . ;) . .
      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheWickedKingJeremy ( 578077 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:48AM (#4571391) Homepage
        I want a car that expresses my personality.

        There you have it... Proof that elaborate marketing campaigns work wonders.
        • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

          Proof that elaborate marketing campaigns work wonders.

          I bought a sports car because I wanted something that was truely fun to drive. Something that really DOES go fast and doesn't just look fast, and something that I didn't have to soup up aftermarket just to make it move.

          I did my research, read up on specs, test drove a few models, and then based my decision on what I liked and what I could comfortably afford.

          Marketing had nothing to do with it.

          My decision was a Camaro SS, and oddly enough, I do feel it expresses certain things about my personality. From it's ominous growling LS1 to it's leather interior, some things about my car just feel comfortable to me.

          I looked at alternatives, and I decided I didn't like them because, well, they sucked.

          If you don't like my car, you certainly don't have to buy one like it. And until someone makes a hybrid that performs like my car (that'll be very long way off I'm betting), I'll stick with my car well on into the years where people are calling it a classic.

          Oh, and given the amount of power this car makes, it's fuel consumption is actually pretty damned good, so I have no complaints there.

          Just because I didn't buy a small, weak, girly looking import doesn't mean I'm a brainwashed American. It might actually mean I like to enjoy the wide opened roads I get to drive on. For some reason those roads just aren't as much fun in a wimpy car.

          Maybe you should take a sports car for a test drive down a curvy back road sometime, then you would understand. Esspecially if you happen to live in a state with some relaxed speed-limits.
      • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jeffy210 ( 214759 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:15AM (#4571638)
        Actually, you may want to check out what GM already has planned... a Sierra Hybrid truck. You can check the article here []
      • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by 8Complex ( 10701 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:18AM (#4571645)
        I want a car that's fun to drive, with tight steering, hot acceleration, and good brakes.

        So you want an import? Personally every American-made car I've driven handles like crap. Granted I haven't driven Corvettes or Vipers, but those are exotics, not just American-made muscle.

        Get yourself into a Subaru Impreza WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO (ie. not the US version of the Lancer), a Nissan Skyline (obviously not in this country), or even an older Ford Escort Cosworth (again, not in the US). You'll be happy with the handling, braking, have excellent acceleration, control... everything you'd want, all in a sub-30k sports car -- including nearly 180hp. Oh, and all of those are All Wheel Drive, so maybe you can get somewhere in the snow now instead of having to have a seperate winter vehicle. :-)

        You'll cry when your streetable Mustang pulls up next to a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 and you know that you run 11's... and he wastes you. Click and check the "Check Out the Video of Adam's 10 Sec Galant HERE" link []. Be prepared to cry - he's run faster.

      • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @12:01PM (#4571827)

        These aren't possible with hybrids, at this point. When they are, then you'll see American vehicles with hybrid engines. But not beforehand, if they're real Americans.

        American companies tend to always be behind the curbe because they focus more on style than substance, though it tends to be that way for most large companies. The japanese car manufactures have been great innovators and have introduced more new concepts and technical innovations than american car companies in recent years. Look how long it took them to even improve gas milage. They passed legislation saying a car had to get 30 MPG/Highway, and american companies say we we need more time. 6 months later Japanese companies are producing a car that meets those regulations and does better. The thing they have a problem with is that they are not as big into marketing or making "cool cars" which is their biggest weakness.

      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @12:38PM (#4572010) Homepage Journal
        Actually, those of us who live in cities would kind of like to go 0-20 and across an intersection before the other line of cars moves. Hybrids are better for low-end acceleration, and, if there are too many red lights to even get up to 79 on a regular basis, it just doesn't matter whether the car can handle that. There's just something annoying about just barely getting your car up to speed each time before you stop again.

        So I think that there's a good market for hybrids in cities, where the roads are narrower than the truck you want.
      • If you want a car with good low-end torque, but lots of power at the high end, or a car that doesn't have any shifting lag when accelerating, you might like an electric car. With no need for a transmission, an electric car has a much smoother torque vs. rpm.
      • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jgordon7 ( 49263 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @02:31PM (#4572571)
        Actually in school I was on a car team from 95-98 building Hybrids. We were able to take a standard car (Chevy Lumnia) and increase the fuel economy to ~50mpg we got 0-60mph in 7 sec and a top speed of 110mph and a range of about 400 miles, and we did not care about weight. In fact the car was a little too heavy (4000 pounds), the weight could have been reduced however since we had to use a standard car frame it was not pratical. If you could make a custom frame instead shoving parts into a car, you could easily increase all these points. Of the car we built also had all passenger features stock, including HVAC and we added GPS mapping.

        When we went to Detroit for testing at EPA, one of the EPA guys made a comment about those "damn wimpy electric cars". Well we made a bet with him that this car as some power. He said that we could not lay down 1 foot of rubber, we proceed to lay down 25 feet. We failed to mention to him that our "whimpy electric motor" had an output of 650 ft-pounds of torque @ 0 RPM. The dodge viper only has ~450 ft-pounds.
  • I think... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SquierStrat ( 42516 )
    I think I'd rather see Hydrogen Fuel cell vehicles than hybrids. From what I've read, the fuel cell vehicles are more efficient not to mention cleaner. But I guess all of these thing take time, no?
    • Re:I think... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smelroy ( 40796 )
      We already have a gasoline infastructure in place. It would cost more money (and time like you said) then I can imagine to change all the gas stations into Hydrogen stations. Hydrogen fuel would be pretty sweet though!
      • Re:I think... (Score:2, Informative)

        by terraformer ( 617565 )
        They also have to figure out how to deliver and store the hydrogen in the cars themselves. Hydrogen gas is incredibly unstable and in an accident, if the canister holing the gas ruptures, there will be an explosion. Currently, fuel cell vehicles, use technology that pulls hydrogen from ethanol (or some other similar compound including std 93 octane) but that is only marginally more efficient than burning it.

        It is like fusion, they know how to get the reaction going but have yet to develop a way to feed it without killing the reaction.
      • Powerballs (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WillWare ( 11935 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:11AM (#4571459) Homepage Journal
        A lot of people have thought about making the infrastructure transition easier. One nifty idea is Powerballs []. These are ping-pong balls filled with NaH, which float in a tank of water. Above the water the tank is full of H2 gas. When the H2 pressure drops too far, a computer-controlled cutter pops open a ping-pong ball, and NaH + H2O -> NaOH + H2 happens. The H2 bubbles to the top, the NaOH stays in the water.

        At the filling station, they pump out the broken shells, water and NaOH from your tank, before putting in new water and powerballs. The broken shells are recyclable. The NaOH is reacted with fresh H2 to produce water and NaH.

        There needs to be some regulatory rules to make this process as clean as it promises to be. NaOH is nasty stuff, though no more toxic than gasoline. But overall, it's a cool idea.

        • Re:Powerballs (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dutchie ( 450420 )
          Interesting for sure. I looked at their site and have a couple of issues with it though. First, they describe NaOH as being available abundantly as a waste product.

          I'm not sure if this is the case. NaOH is USED frequently in the industry because of it's strong alkaline properties. It's subject to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as illustrated in the Industry Overview Of Construction []. I'm not familiar with it's exact purpose in the industry, perhaps somebody can enlighten me, but I'm not quite so sure that it'd be a waste product in it's pure form, it'll very likely be diluted.

          Second, what happens to the dilution in the waste when the NaH is being created?

          Third, they plan to 'heat' the NaOH in order to turn it into solid NaH. How would they heat it? Heating costs energy. Is this possibly a similar scam as to use corn based ethanol to power engines? (everybody knows ofcourse that corn needs an abundance of nitrate rich fertilizer, which in turn requires a lot of energy, eg. oil, to create).

          I do however like the NaH + H2O and tank idea as a means to safely transport H2. Down the line, the 'waste' product of this (ie. NaOH dissolved in water) could be used as non-diluted transmission medium for creating new NaOH as the previous poster said.

    • Re:I think... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't understand the hype surrounding fuel cells; they are obstensibly a more green (non-polluting) solution, but they are not really an 'alternative' energy source. The vast majority of the hydrogen produced for use as fuel comes from hydrocarbons-->petroleum. Most other solutions for creating free hydrogen require more energy to produce than is freed, and this energy requirement is satisfied with fossil fuels. Like the pure electric car, fuel cells are only a point solution; the total energy cost is significantly higher than a modern gasoline engine (not to mention hybrids).
  • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:02AM (#4571276)
    for this to become a reality. That 2012 deadline will likely be pushed back. Until they can get power output up Americans just aren't going to buy these things in droves. Then again, maybe Toyota is just tired of making all that money. >
    • by Obadusni ( 54715 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:15AM (#4571302) Homepage
      I own a Prius, and it actually has quite a bit of power. Not a sportscar, but substantially more power than my other car, a Toyota Echo. The continuous transmission helps. Rides nice, and I get just over 47 MPG.
      • I checked into getting a Prius a while back. I'm not sure if much of anything has changed. But, one thing that I did like that they offered was maintenance guarantees.

        If I'm out in the middle of Idaho and the car breaks down, no local mechanic is going to know how to fix the damned thing. One of the selling points about the Prius was that Toyota would fly someone out to my location (at their expense) and fix it. So I could virtually roam anywhere.

        If they want to do a complete switch-over are they going to provide this type of service for all their vehicles? Most likely not, especially if they are going to mass produce the vehicles and distribute like they do with their current non-hybrids. If they did have this same guarantee, that would be great. I'm thinking that they might have to train the Dealership mechanics and if you get stuck out somewhere you have to tow it to the nearest dealer. That's inconvenient. What would be best, in my opinion, is to offer a class to train independent mechanics (not affiliated with the dealership) on how to fix the hybrid vehicles when they break down. This would resolve some of the inconvenience issues.
    • by JanneM ( 7445 )
      You can have any level of power output you'd like within the normal range of vehicles. For any desired level, a hybrid will consume quite a lot less fuel than an ordinary vehicle.
    • by ictatha ( 201773 ) <> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:30AM (#4571337)
      "Until they can get power output up Americans just aren't going to buy these things in droves."

      I believe the American auto industry had a similar attitude back in the '80s about these new-fangled foreign compact cars... "Americans want big, powerful cars... they'll never buy those little foreign cars." We all know how that went.

      I, for one, am glad that *some* auto company has actually made a real commitment to change.
      • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:39AM (#4571542) Homepage Journal

        "Americans want big, powerful cars... they'll never buy those little foreign cars." We all know how that went.

        Yep. We tried them little furrin cars, and now we all drive 3.5 ton SUVs with 8-cylinder, 5.9 liter, 380 HP engines, huge knobby wheels so big we have to have a step installed just to be able to get in, and all decked out with skid plates, push guards, winches and full-time four-wheel drive.

        To the grocery store.

        I quake in terror at what our response might be to the introduction of even smaller and more efficient automobiles. Soccer moms in semi tractors?

    • However, the fact that the Prius has sold very well in the USA is proof that you don't need lots of power to be a popular seller.

      Having driven a Prius, the acceleration is actually quite good--and in the right conditions 50+ miles per US gallon fuel efficiency is great.

      I think once the new EPA rules on cleaner diesel fuel comes into effect in a few years we may see diesel-electric hybrids--now imagine a Toyota Corolla with a diesel-electric drivetrain getting 75 mpg and still meet Super-Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards! :-)
  • So more prices! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Martigan80 ( 305400 )
    So now the government will raise the price of electricity too! Feel sorry for California.

    Of course this could be done now but the Big Oil people still want to squeeze some more out before they change to electricity.

    Maybe the EPA will back off of them if they burn their own oil for electricity and then sell us the electricity so the_cars_run cleaner but the factories are still spewing out the crap.
    • Re:So more prices! (Score:2, Informative)

      by JanneM ( 7445 )

      These vehicles use gasoline just like ordinary cars. It's just that the engine output is not used directly to drive the car, but to run a generator which in turn runs an electric engine. The advantage is that you can have a smaller and more efficient engine for the same power output at the wheels.
  • Wankel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:06AM (#4571284) Journal
    What would be really cool would be a hybrid Wankel-electric engine. You'd get the smoothness and high power to weight ratio of the wankel combined with the efficiency of the electric motor. Mazda, any plans for the RX-9? :-)
    • Now that would be interesting. Hybrids are already are stealthy and quiet like a bicycle. Perhaps Mazda could make a radar evading stealth hybrid car to complete the sports image.
  • Future costs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mattygfunk1 ( 596840 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:09AM (#4571289)
    Especially as these will be pitched at the family car market, will the hybrid cars cost more to maintain? How does the cost of parts compare with the cost of gas cars? Do the fuel savings offset this cost?

    Link .sig []

    • Re:Future costs? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mprinkey ( 1434 )
      Probably not.

      Assume 100,000 miles over the lifetime of the car, $1.50 per gallon for gas. At 50 MPG, you would spend $3000 on gas over the life of the car. At 40 MPG, it would be $3750. At 30 MPG, $5000. So, that is only a $2000 savings compared to $3000 incremental cost.

      Of course, if you double fuel costs, the economics change. Also, if you plan on getting 250,000 miles from your car, it also changes. At the very least, I would say that there is no economic advantage to higher efficiency systems like this. This of course ignores the costs of "environmental impact" which are very difficult to quantify. The key issues is that it makes technological sense and the economics are not too bad.
      • Ok, ignoring that the 100,000 mile figure is way too low, your MPG is way, way too high.

        Take your average SUV - it gets a wonderful 15 mpg. Convert to hybrid, get the mpg up to, oh say, 40 - which is quite attainable.

        Cost savings over 100,000 miles? $6250.

        That's going to pay for a lot of repairs.

        Very few cars are getting anywhere close to 30 mpg nowadays - certainly not the family sedans that are most popular (Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Taurus). They're generally in the low 20s for city driving. And since EPA mpg doesn't reflect real life mpg, they actually wind up getting in the very low 20s.

        The wonderful part about hybrids is they actually get better mpg in stop and go traffic than in highway driving - and most Americans now spend more time (and gas) in stop-n-go traffic than they do cruising at 70 mph down the freeway.
    • "All things being equal" it should be cheaper to maintain. Most of the wear and tear for a conventional car comes from the frequent starts and stops in city traffic. In a hybrid car, the power boost needed to accellerate would come from the battery, not the combustion engine, resulting in less wear and longer life.

      Of course, all things aren't equal. Current automobiles benefit from well understood and readily available technology. Parts are available from multiple sources and there are lots of people who know how to install them. It will take time for the hybrids to reach the same point.

    • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @12:39PM (#4572012)
      I recently bought a slightly used pickup truck. 2000 F-150.

      I did a comparison with purchase price, gas prices, mileage, etc. between the F-150, and a new Honda hybrid.

      The F-150 @ $12,000 and 20mpg does not start to cost more than the Honda @ $22,000 and 70 mpg until almost 200,000 miles.

      And that is not including any maintenance costs. Battery replacement, etc.
      Yes, the truck uses more gas. But the price differential is hard to ignore on a personal level.
  • by murat ( 262137 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:10AM (#4571291)
    2012? Isn't that the year the Mayan calendar ends?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:12AM (#4571294)
    Great, any step which takes us further away from an oil economy can only be a good thing for world stability, the environment and the economy.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's hardly a good thing for world stability and economy!

      Oil is the only real wealth the countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have. Take the need for it away and we just might see in our lifetime the birth of a totalitarian Islamic superstate run by religious fanatics.

      Oil also runs the world economy. Take the need for oil away and we have a looong worldwide depression ahead of us.

  • Great to see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brycenut ( 456384 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:13AM (#4571297)
    If anyone can do it, Toyota (or Honda) can. The Japanese automakers still seem to be leading the US, as evidenced by their great ratings in car magazines and Consumer Reports.

    Coupled with yesterdays news [] that gas mileage is continuing to drop in 2003 models, this is a great announcement.

  • Not quite true... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Insightfill ( 554828 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:15AM (#4571303) Homepage
    As an Insight owner, I try to keep up with this stuff. Turns out Toyota has retracted that promise, saying that there was a "misinterpretation" on the Japanese end.

    Can't find the link, but here's the WSJ article re: same:

    Toyota Still Plans to Sell 300,000 Hybrid Vehicles a Year By 2005
    Friday October 25, 5:19 pm ET
    By Norihiko Shirouzu, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

    DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. reaffirmed it aims to sell a total of 300, 000 super-efficient, electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles a year by 2005.

    Toyota's reaffirmation came in response to a news report earlier this week that said the auto maker plans to use hybrid engines in all vehicles by 2012 to increase fuel efficiency and reduce tailpipe emissions. The report also said Toyota won't sell 300,000 hybrids annually until 2007.

    Kevin Webber, a Toyota spokesman in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the report was " inaccurate," which he said stemmed from a "misinterpretation" of comments in Japanese made by a Toyota executive.

    Mr. Webber said it is "technically infeasible" to use hybrid systems in all vehicles Toyota sells around the world in 10 years. He said Toyota continues to aim to sell 300,000 hybrids a year by about 2005.

    Last month, Toyota's president Fujio Cho said the No. 1 Japanese auto maker will expand its lineup of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles into larger vehicles, such as midsized sport-utility vehicles and minivans, as it tries to sell a total of 300,000 hybrids a year by 2005.

    Cho said Toyota "will expand hybrid systems into an array of models, including larger vehicles."

    Already, Toyota recently has begun selling in Japan a hybrid minivan called the Estima. In the U.S., Toyota currently sells only one hybrid, the small Prius car, while in Japan its lineup includes the Prius and a Crown luxury car equipped with a so-called "mild" hybrid system, in addition to the Estima.

    -Norihiko Shirouzu, The Wall Street Journal
    • Hey, by the way, how is it going with your Insight? I priced out a Civic hybrid the other day and calculated it would take 7 years to make up for the premium (neglecting the benefit of the warm and fuzzy feeling have polluting less).

      I am seriously considering getting an Insight, possibly a used one. How does it handle? How's the continuously variable transmission? Are the batteries OK so far? The only thing that worries me about the insight is the batteries, which are certified to 80,000 miles...but after that I have no idea what has to be done. Maybe they need to be replaced for mega-$$$$.

      There was recently an article around that said that we *currently* have the technologies that could potentially double fuel efficiency _just with the traditional combustion engine alone_, e.g. camless engine, continuously variable transmissing, shutting off engine at stop lights, etc., but the auto industry just refuses to incorporate these changes (opting instead for the ever present technology around the corner, e.g. fuel cells). Now I can't find that article...

      If the foreign automobile companies force US companies into better fuel efficiency (apparently our own government can't even do that) that's great by me.
      • Re:Not quite true... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:15AM (#4571469)
        I have a 2003 (brand new) civic hybrid. You might not ever see this post since it's AC, but here's what I can tell you. I think there's a reason that the batteries have a longer warranty than the car, and that's to instill some faith on the life of the batteries to the consumer becuase I think a lot of people have that concern. Remember when calculating savings (which at this point there really isn't any or much) to include the tax breaks you may get. I get the following with mine.

        1) I paid no sales tax at purchase
        2) I get a $2000 tax deduction this tax year from federal
        3) I get up to a $1350 tax *credit* from state of MD this year
        4) Many states will let hybrids in the HOV lanes no matter how many occupants there are
        5) Some states such as CO will let Hybrid owners use toll roads for free
        6) You just feel like a better person by driving one.. I can't explain it, but you do.

        CVT is fine, it's really the first time I had experienced it, but it works fine and makes a lot of sense. Remember that CVT wasn't introduced in the insights until recently, so he might not have it. Probably the biggest thing to get used to with the honda hybrids is when the engine shuts off when you pull up to a light. It's kind of neat though actually.. It gets VERY silent in the car, but it starts up fine when you let go of the break.. The battery acts as the starter. In fact it does that when you start the car up initially as well, it doesn't matter how long you hold the key in the starting position, it just starts automatically.

        I love mine so far. And some of the benefits and the feeling you get of owning one is/are quite good.

        I'm currently getting about 41MPG.. I've heard many times though that you don't start to see the 47MPG figure until the engine gets a little 'worn in', or perhaps it's really until you adapt your driving style. Trust me, with the ASST/CHRG indicator on your dashboard.. It WILL change the way you drive :).. It becomes a competition with yourself to improve your gas mileage.

        This post was a bit of a jumbled mess, but I hope it helped you out.

        • I know a very fine way of loosing the very silence when you stop. Install a proper stereo in the car ;) You will be playing louder than the engine at all points, thus not having to bother about hearing the engine or not ;))
        • by Rebar ( 110559 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @02:36PM (#4572608)
          I like that your car has that ASST/CHRG indicator on your dashboard.

          I expect we could save the equivalent of all the oil in the ANWR if all cars had instantaneous MPG indicators on the dashboard. I know for one I would be modifying how I drive to run that number UP, and I don't think I am alone.

          If that saved just 1% the 20 MILLION barrels of oil per day (per here []) that the U.S. burns...

          Why has this not been done? Would it cost an extra $50 per car? I think that the gasoline savings would more than pay for that over the life of the vehicle.
  • Slashdot search is down, but I managed to find at least a press release for what I'm talking about at GM's website here [].

    Toyota's plan will add more weight, bulk, and complexity to the car, while simultaneously reducing acceleration, handling, and passenger space. With all the cons above, I don't think many people will consider it a viable alternative to straight combustion engines.

    GM's AUTOnomy project not only has the potential for greater acceleration, being a transmissionless electric auto platform, but having motors in each wheel means most vehicles will be able to (literally!) turn on a dime. It's a 100% fuel cell vehicle, and all the workings fit in a 6" high plate at the bottom of the vehicle. It makes the car safer, lighter, easier to handle, and since there is no engine, no battery packs, and basically nothing above ankle-height, passenger safety is vastly improved (no engine to break your legs in a crash) along with comfort.

    Which car will Americans choose? Well, I guess it actually all depends on who's marketing their car more agressively. :(
  • by caveat ( 26803 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:19AM (#4571310)
    ...they don't have any true high-performance cars left.
    i just can't imagine a supra tt or a mkII mr2 turbo running nearly as fast on a hybrid engine as on a pure gas motor. although a really small, light nimble car like a mkIII mr2 or a miata could probably work well with a hybrid, especially with the smooth throttle control the electric motor. and who knows, i could be wrong and we could have 2.4L 550-hp 38mpg hybrid engines in two years. :D
    • Mind you, Toyota right now is developing a new sports coupe to compete against the Nissan Skyline (as the Infiniti G35 is known in most of the world).

      Given Toyota's experience with hybrid drivetrains, I wouldn't be surprised if they come out with a sports coupe that uses a 200 bhp gasoline engine and a 100 bhp electric motor. There is hot rumors floating around that Honda's replacement for the NSX sports car will use a gasoline-electric drivetrain derived from the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) technology used on the Civic Hybrid.
    • Actually Electric powered or hybrid cars are *more* suitable for some of a sports car's duties, most notably fast off the line performance, for the same reasons that they are efficient; low end torque. Check out the following wired article for a better description / examples of $20 -$30k electric cars that go 0-60 in 4 seconds!
  • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:26AM (#4571324) Journal
    I'd be a little concerned about buying one of these vehicles unless the manufacturer made a real effort to provide education to the masses about how to service them. How expensive is service going to be? Can I grab my buddies, tools and a case of beer and nut it out myself? These things are important.
  • I'm telling you, hybrids are great!

    When I was looking for a new car, I test drove the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insite. Both cars were awesomely silent when you got up to cruising mode. It was actually kinda eerie!

    Anyway, I ended up going with a VW Golf TDi (another high efficiency vehicle).

    Long story short, hybrid vehicles are really great and they're a good intermediate step between petroleum based fuels and electric cars.
  • by Brento ( 26177 ) <{brento} {at} {}> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:27AM (#4571328) Homepage
    Toyota's always been a visionary and hit the moving market targets well. Think back to the early-to-mid 80's, and you'll remember that they had great affordable sports cars (Celica, Supra) at exactly the time when sports cars were the rage. During the 90's, they let their sports cars get bloated, because the market was about luxury, and they axed the cars before they became jokes (think Camaro).

    At the same time, in the early 90s, they were rolling out a big line of SUV's. Today, with SUV's all the rage, Toyota has models for everybody - the RAV4, the 4runner, the big Land Cruiser, the Highlander, you name it - plus all the models they sell under the Lexus brand.

    If Toyota says their models will all be green-friendly in 2012, you'd better believe that they're going to be in the right place at the right time again, and green vehicles will be all the rage. Toyota does brilliant product planning.
    • I have read that Toyota has begun to scale up the hybrid drivetrain technology pioneered by the Prius. I know they are already selling a hybrid minivan in Japan right now.

      Don't be surprised within 18 months (heck, we might even see a concept vehicle as early as the 2003 Detroit International Auto Show in a few months!) a Toyota RAV4 or even a Scion SUV with a hybrid powertrain. I would be unsurprised if Honda shows within a year a version of the new Honda Element SUV with an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) technology powertrain, too. :-) I'd buy a hybrid-powertrain Element in a New York minute once it becomes available for sale.
  • by VitrosChemistryAnaly ( 616952 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:31AM (#4571341) Journal
    I really can't wait to see the the air car []come out!

    Now that's going to be exciting. I highly recommend reading the site. Also if I read the FAQ correctly it says that the vehicles will cost between $8000 and $10,000.

    An interesting fact is that the air that comes out of the Air Car is cleaner that when it entered the car. Not only is it zero pollution, but it cleans the air!
  • but late. It is interesting that Toyota is going ahead with this first, but with that kind of a ship date, they could be outdone easily.
  • is 50mpg a lot? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mlflegel ( 413793 ) <> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:44AM (#4571375) Homepage
    It says in the article that the hybrid cars would get 50 miles to the gallon.

    We used to own a family sedan (Volkswagen Passat) which got 45 miles to the galon of Diesel fuel. Driven economically, you could get it up to about 70 miles a galon. This was 8 years ago.

    And here in Germany VW have had the 3l Lupo, where the 3l standing for 3l/100km consumption, which translates to about 75mpg, out a couple of years also.

    So I ask you: Is 50mpg really that good?
    • The reason why diesels aren't popular in the US today is the fact that current Diesel #2 fuel is too full of sulphur compounds, which will quickly destroy the fuel delivery and exhaust emission controls found on European diesel-powered automobiles.

      Since the EPA will require drastic reductions of such compounds in a few years, by then we could see the PD130 and PD150 engines found on European-market Golfs and Passats show up on the US market. Can you imagine a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain on a VW Golf getting fuel mileage that would make the diesel-powered VW Lupo seem like a fuel-guzzler in comparison? It could happen as early as 2006.
    • Considering cars are still made like the Jeep Wrangler that get 15 city/18 highway, I think 50mpg is huge.


    • Re:is 50mpg a lot? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ( 581963 )
      Agreed, I would like their sights to be set just a bit higher. However, the stats you are quoting refer to diesel vehicles, which, while getting great mileage, are horrible pollution emitters. While the latest VW TDi engines have gone a long way in reducing emissions, they are still some of the worst polluters on the road (among automobiles).

      Look here [] and notice all the TDi VW's at the way bottom of the list.

      If everyone in the country drove a diesel, we'd be relying less on foreign oil, but we wouldn't be able to breathe.

    • Remember, US gallons are smaller than Imperial ones (as used in the UK). From the back of my diary, 1 US gallon = 0.8327 Imperial gallons, therefore 50mpg (US) is 60 mpg (UK/Imperial) which is pretty darn impressive for a petrol (gasoline) engine. A hybrid diesel would be even better, if you can put up with that nasty black soot they emit.
    • A gallon of diesel is not the same as a gallon of gas - diesel fuel has substantially more energy per unit volume. The goal isn't to reduce the overall volume of fuel consumped, but to reduce the energy consumed, whatever the form might be it.

      Your diesel Passat is slightly dirtier than a conventional car when it runs - the environmental concern addressed by the Prius is not just fuel economy, it is also air quality. The Prius does trade off fuel economy for better emissions

      As for your Passat's best case milage - 70mpg isn't that impressive, it is about 60mpg gas. On long road trips I commonly exceed 65 mpg in my Prius.

      What you neglect to consider is most of the fuel is not burned on vacation driving along highways in rural areas - it is burned commuting, driving in cities (most people live in cities) and other less than idea conditions -- Your German VW does not get 75mpg when stuck in traffic.

      I will conceed that non-hybrid with the same 70hp engine as the Prius will get slightly better milage if driven exclusively on the highway due to the weight reduction of not having to lug around a battery.

  • Electricity Taxes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:48AM (#4571392) Homepage
    Operating an electric vehicle may not be as cheap as you may think. Currently, gas taxes go to support maintaining and expanding the roadways. Once enough people jump on the electric bandwagon, I could see the government imposing many of the same kinds of taxes on electricity. And I don't know if you've noticed, but electricity hasn't been getting that much cheaper lately.
    • by Kilmor ( 236067 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:03AM (#4571438)
      And why exactly do our roads need billions of dolalrs of upkeep a year??
      Does my 1984 mazda 626 really cause that much damage to the roads? Or would 10,000 cars just like mine?
      Nope. Big trucks. Big heavy ass trucks tear up the roads, and we the normal average Joe Gas-n-Go have to pay for it.
      Maybe they should look at expanding the rail industry and put some serious detriments to shipping damn near everything by big rig. It would certainly make the roads alot safer, if not for the simply fact that I won't have to dodge the big chunks of retread tire these things flake off.

      Remember, less trucks = safer roads, which is Good For The Children(TM).
      • Re:Electricity Taxes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Don Negro ( 1069 )
        Just-in-Time manufacturing is what killed off most rail traffic in the US.

        If you ship commodities by rail, you have to buy in bulk to make the economics work for you. That means higher inventories and bigger warehouses and capital tied up in COGS on the balance sheet instead of sitting on the Cash and Marketable Securities line. If you ship by truck, you have a great deal more flexibility, and less-than-truckload ordering becomes feasible.

        Add to the fact that most of the industrial sites built in the last 20 years don't have rail spur access and you have quite a problem going back to rail. Yet Another Example of how business decisions affect infrastructure, which affects what's feasible in the future.

        At this point, our best bets are a) hybrid deisel-electric semis, b) low-sulphur deisel (or preferably biodeisel) and c) better road-building technology.
      • Re:Electricity Taxes (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lechter ( 205925 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @12:56PM (#4572083)

        Nope, sorry. I'm afraid heavy trucks are not the reason for the need of road upkeep.

        Consider all the roads out there where trucks are forbidden, they still need regular maintenance and repairs with about the same regularity as major highways that carry trucks.

        The fact is that road denegration is mostly due to weather and environmental changes. The ground settles differently (usually based on nearby development) and cracks appear. Trees grow and their roots crack streets. The temperature changes, the road expands and contracts, and cracks appear. These cracks fill with water and potholes appear. That's just the way it is, and without breakthroughs in paving technology (like tarmac), maintenance costs will still be high.

        As for using rail shipments, that's a fine idea, and I believe that about as much tonnage is shipped by rail these days as by trucks. The trouble is that with rail you can seldom get there from here. And too, you have to maintain rail lines (recall the Amtrak crash in Maryland this summer due to overheated poorly mainained track?).

        I hate like driving with trucks as much as the next guy, and there's probably a size of truck that ballances environmental, safety, and shipping concerns which has yet to be found; but in the meantime trucks are often the best (if not only) way to efficiently transmit goods.

      • Re:Electricity Taxes (Score:3, Informative)

        by donutello ( 88309 )
        The average truck pays about $20,000 (depending on state) in taxes every year. I know because my father-in-law has a concrete business and operates a few trucks.
  • by suman28 ( 558822 ) <> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @09:51AM (#4571400)
    I am not sure how many people will be willing to make the switch themselves. I was very much looking forward to buying a Toyota Prius, but I recently found out that the hybrid cars of today require you to change the batteries every 3 yrs and it costs $6000-7000 to replace them and they are not as powerful now. But maybe all this will change by 2012.
    • by ( 581963 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:07AM (#4571449)
      the hybrid cars of today require you to change the batteries every 3 yrs and
      it costs $6000-7000 to replace them and they are not as powerful now. But maybe
      all this will change by 2012.

      Where'd you get that information?? Honda is giving an 8-year 80K mile warranty [] on its Hybrid batteries. Their claim is replacement at around 10 years, and about $1000 at today's prices ($1K price told to me by a Honda dealer), which will probably come down as the first hybrids need their replacements.
      • The battery packs were about $1800 when these cars came out, they're priced at $1000 now, and they'll get much cheaper than that. One of the big advantages of the current hybrid designs is that they use common, commodity battery tachnology, unlike all-electric cars like the EV-1. How's this for commodity -- the Prius and Insight actually use regular, NiMH "D" flashlight cells. I'm not kidding. So not only will there be aftermarket suppliers, replacement packs may even be within reach of the home DIY'er.
      • Further, we have some real world data about the durability of a Prius battery. The Prius egroup carried an article about Yellow Cab in Vancouver BC, which has a Prius in taxi service. 200,000 km, many charge-discharge cycles, and all the power train components including the battery are still factory original.

        Toyota claims to have bench tested the Prius battery pack to a simulated 150,000 miles.

        That 3-year number sounds like it comes from the experience of pure electric vehicles. Batteries won't last long in those because deep discharge cycles gradually damage batteries. The Prius uses the gas engine as an onboard generator and can keep the discharge cycles much shallower, allowing the battery to last longer.

        Oh, a minor correction to the sibling article: D cells are only the the Japanese model of the Prius. For the US model they were replaced by thinner prismatic cells.

  • Battery Availibility (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brother Fjordhr ( 468596 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:01AM (#4571433)
    As far as I know, the batteries are still not available as a replacement part and are estimated to cost between 4k-6kusd ( Most electric cars need a full battery replacement between 3-6years depending on usage.

    On a hybrid the performance and mileage will degrade over the years without this replacement part. This will limit the life of the car and definitely reduce it's value to a second owner.

    They are interesting but need to have replaceable batteries. A TDI engine instead of a gasoline engine would also help.
  • and wrote about it on his website. []
  • by sampson7 ( 536545 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @10:25AM (#4571507)
    First of all, I've had my Prius for about 8 months now -- and I love it. The car is a technological marvel. Not only does it get amazing mileage, it also puts out less emissions that just about any other car out there. For those not familiar with how a hybrid works, all of the car's energy originates with the car's 11.5 gallon gas tank. There is no plug. I repeat: there is no plug :)

    There is however a battery pack under the rear seat of the car and accessible from the trunk. Under the hood there is a conventional 4 cylinder engine as well as a electrical motor/generator. Here's where it gets fun: in order to slow down, the generator spins backwards (!) slowing the car down and generating energy. When the need for strong breaking occurs, or at low speeds, the friction brakes kick in. The system is very refined, with only a small barely noticeable transition between regenerative breaking and friction breaking. The energy generated is then stored in the batteries.

    Internal combustion engines are least efficient when they first start up and also produce the most pollutants at start up. The Prius uses its electric battery power to drive the motor forward and get the car moving. This dramatically reduces wear on the engine and lowers emissions and increases mileage. (Note: At speeds under 38 mph, you can run totally on electric power -- or stealth mode -- the car is completely silent! Very cool.) That's a real basic run down. For real engineers & car people -- note the lack of a planetary gear, an ignition system, etc. There's a lot going on in this car!

    I alluded to the biggest misconception earlier -- there is no plug. All the energy is generated internally. Some other folks have mentioned fuel cells, I sat in on a briefing a few days ago with some top EPA/DOE folks, and they made it quite clear the technology isn't quite there yet. But the biggest problem is the hydrogen infrastructure that would have to be built. I sensed that they would personally favor government intervention to encourage this, but that would be extremely unlikely under the current administration.

    One last comment -- there are two categories of hybrid cars -- full and mild. Both are good, but if Toyota is talking about mild hybrids, this story is a bit more of a yawn. Mild hybrid just means that the engine kicks off when the vehicle is stopped. Basically, the only additional battery needed is to spark the engine back to life. This is a good thing (imagine all those idling engines turned off and not emitting pollutants), but it is hardly a revolutionary step. The technology to do this has existed for years.

    But please -- everyone go out and buy a hybrid -- I've driven them all, and they are all amazing. Of course, the Prius is my favorite, but the hybrid civic is nice and so is the Insight. And keep your eyes open for the new hybrid Ford Escape due in late 2003. Encourage all your "I'm an environmentalist but I drive an SUV" friends to put their money where their mouths are!
    • I've had mine for two years of not so gentle driving in the NYC metro area and occational forays into mountainous areas and nasty unmaintained dirt roads with no problems (34,000 miles so far) As for the full/mild, the differences are a bit more involved. There are "series" and "parallel" hybrids - the Prius can act as either and any shade of grey between a strict series and parallel. The Hondas are strictly "parallel" hybrids. From the marketing literature the Escape seems to be a "parallel-series and any shade of grey" version like the Prius - but they are talking about a paltry 40/29mpg :-( (I sort of wish they wish Toyota would just stick a little motor on the rear wheels of the Prius for low speed 4wd) The "mild" hybrids are those that some monster SUV makers have been taking about which are basically integrated alternator/starters (i.e. very small parallel hybrid) that could in theory help out a little with propulsion if it wern't for the fact that the huge hotel loads of some of the proposed enhancements (i.e. 110v outlets for hair dryers and the like) would consume most of their energy budgets. BTW, like any other car, driving style affects milage. I average 54mpg, my wife would kill me if I told you she only averages about 49mpg.
  • by chrisvh ( 619548 ) <cvanhasselt AT mindspring DOT com> on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:45AM (#4571747) Homepage
    My wife and I just purchased a Honda Civic Hybrid. We've only had it for about three weeks, so I obviously can't speak about long term satisfaction, but right now we are quite happy with the car. We've taken two long trips - one to Asheville NC, and one to Washington DC. On the trip to DC, I got 52 miles per gallon (a point higher than the EPA estimate) with 4 people in the car. As impressive as that might be, it is interesting to hear people's reaction to that number. SUV owners (many of whom are misinformed about hybrids, and think they have to be plugged in) think 52 mpg is amazing. However, among my eco-conscious friends who would be the logical market for this car, the reaction is "That's great, but why doesn't it get 100 miles per gallon?" In short, it is all a matter of perspective. One other point: Whereas the Insight, and the Prius to a lesser degree, are noticeable cars, the Civic Hybrid has yet to attract any attention in parking lots or on the street. No one has come up and said "Wow! What kind of weird car is that?" In other words, this is not some weird George Jetson mobile that will turn off buyers. It proves that an economical car can be just as appealing as a regular car.
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @11:50AM (#4571772) Homepage Journal
    I can already get a new Beetle that gets 49MPG. Another tiny car with slightly better mileage isn't what we need. We need station wagons and SUV's that can get 30MPG instead of 16 or 20. That will have a much greater effect on the nation's dependence on foreign oil and air pollution than trying to be the first to do 100MPG. Right now, it's just a contest for bragging rights among the auto manufacturers.

    Heck, I'd love to have an electric hybrid engine in my truck; it would be perfect for commuting - just give me a switch to run full-gas when I need to move a couple tons of rock or pull a boat.
  • by gsfprez ( 27403 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @01:35PM (#4572233) / []

    please tell me where you see the greatest levels of pollution over the year?

    Are you shocked at the polution coming from India, Russia, and Europe? I'm certainly not. Now - compare it to the USA.

    That's right.. its a piss in the ocean in comparison.

    What amazes me is that the Russians, who have been whining and crying about Kyoto... good Lord! Look at Russia during the winter months.

    The rest of the world is so full of crap when they complain about us.. but then, hard facts and evidence don't really matter to hippies, tree-huggers, or liberals.
  • by Genjurosan ( 601032 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @01:44PM (#4572260)
    E85 is much better for the environment.

    By 2015 I would hope to see a combination of E85 Fuel and hybrid electric. E85 is a fuel blend of 100% renewable Ethanol and 15% gasoline. I have seen people claim that American car manufacturers are not paying attention to the "green" car. I say that isn't true. The Ford Taurus, in all it's grand ugliness has been a FFV vehicle for years. An FFV vehicle is a fuel flexible vehicle that can run on 100% gasoline, to any mix of ethonol up to 85%. There are currently more FFV vehicles on the market today than Hybrid Electric Vehicles.

    Some include:

    2.7L Dodge Stratus Sedan
    2.7L Chrysler Sebring Sedan and Convertible
    3.3L Dodge Cargo Minivan
    3.3L Chrysler Voyager minivan
    3.3L Dodge Caravan minivan
    3.3L Chrysler Town & Country minivan
    4.0L Explorer (4-door)
    3.0L Taurus sedan and wagon
    3.0L Supercab Ranger pickup 2WD
    5.3L V-8 engine Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups 2WD & 4WD
    5.3L Vortec-engine Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Yukon XLs
    3.0L Selected B3000 pickups
    4.0L Selected Mountaineers
    2.2L Hombre pickup 2WD
    2.2L Chevrolet S-10 pickup 2WD
    2.2L Sonoma GMC pickup 2WD

    E85 vehicles require no plug either. They also require no infrastructure upgrades like other solutions. Ethanol combustion produces friendly CO2 gas that can be used by plants, and water. Ethanol produces 110 octane, thus keeping your engine cleaner. The biggest myth about Ethanol, is that it requires corn to be efficient. Not true again, many industrial byproducts can be used to produce Ethanol. The byproducts of Ethanol production can be used in many other applications.

    Now image all this:

    US production of Ethanol - 85%
    US production of Oil - takes care of 5% of the Gasoline requirement
    10 % of Gasoline is still from foreign sources

    Combined with Hybrid Electric technology we can create a vehicle that gets 50+ MPG, reduces pollutants by probably 90%, and changes NONE of our infrastructure requirements!

    Why hasn't this technology come to the forefront... because for some reason, no one wants to see Ethanol succeed. The oil companies shot down Ethanol in the 80's and Archer Daniels Midland worked out a deal with the oil companies to save itself from bankruptcy due to bad management.

    Visit and see the truth.
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @02:21PM (#4572485) Homepage
    Somehow I think these are the kind of engines we should really be looking into. At one time, back in the 1940's or 50's, one of the "Big 3" built a Stirling cycle engine vehicle as a test bed for the engine. From what I remember, it ran well, but what ultimately doomed it was the "startup" time of the car - it took about 20 seconds from the time the switch was turned on to pulling away from the curb. Such long times were deemed unacceptable.

    Fast forward many years: Stirling cycle engines are much more efficient (actually, Stirling cycle engines have always been very efficient - some say they have the best efficiency - but they typically had a low hp/big size ratio), smaller - overall just better. There is also a growing awareness of them - look around on the internet and you will find a bunch of sites detailing construction of simple Stirling cycle engines. There is also a company that creates Stirling cycle generators that run on propane.

    Basically, what a Stirling cycle engine needs is a "hot" and and "cold" side - it works off of the temperature differential. Most of the test vehicles used a propane burner or something similar to raise the hot plate above ambient temperature. This worked, but was slow to start (because the burner had to fire up and bring the hot plate up to temperature before the engine could turn over). I wonder if maybe there is a different way....

    What I am going to describe is something maybe those of you out there with mechanical experience and "gumption" can use to jump start a new project - a "free idea" invention, if you will. If you actually get this thing to work, post it on /. or somewhere, and give me some credit - that's all I ask. Or, perhaps this has already been tried - in that case, don't. I hope at least one person tries, though:

    Basically, make your hot plate be a solar collection panel, heating up brine or oil or something, and the cold plate be a "multi-finned" panel on the bottom of the vehicle (think of it as a large heat sink). Put the Stirling engine between them, and use the power of the Sun! The engine could be directly connected to the back wheels, through a transmission, or you could have it drive a generator to run electric motors (with associated regen braking, etc via a capacitor/battery bank). At night, allow it to plug into the wall (or gas line), which drives a heater to keep the engine spinning at low-RPM, thus eliminating the "cold start" startup time.

    Another idea, not using Stirling cycle engines, but that same energy differential (hot/cold plates with tubing circulating between) is to use some kind of phase change gas, at pressure - which could drive the engine, plus a compressor. The hot plate would heat the liquid, turn it into gas, which would drive the engine, circulate it through the cold plate, then through a compressor to turn it back into a liquid. I am thinking ammonia, freon, or propane as the working gas, though there may be other safer gasses out there which could be used. The key is the phase change (think of it like a refrigerator running backwards). The engine could then drive the wheels or a generator/motor set like above.

    I hope this gets people's brains spinning - such vehicles would be nearly polution free, and would have few moving parts. I would also bet that a prototype could be built using off-the-shelf components, or junk.

  • by BuGsArEtAsTy ( 621442 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @02:58PM (#4572794)
    I own a Prius. It's an excellent car. There is a price premium on the car, but if they can minimize this, they'll definitely have a winner. My engine on this 4-cyl compact is a paltry 1.5 L engine, but oomph is way better than most low-cost 2.0 compacts I've come across. Mind you, if you spend similar cash to get a Jetta, you'll get more oomph. But like I said, they just need to get rid of some of the price premium. Also, the Prius isn't as loud many cars in this range. Furthermore, at low speeds when the gas engine shuts off, it's whisper quiet. It's so quiet that I have to extra careful sometimes at intersections - people can't hear a car coming and they just walk in front of the car. Morons - didn't their moms teach them to look before they cross? By the way, continuous variable transmission rules (if you like automatics). The acceleration is soooooo smoooooth.
  • by Wise Dragon ( 71071 ) on Thursday October 31, 2002 @03:33PM (#4573140) Homepage
    Now if only I could reduce *my* tailpipe emissions. Maybe I should stop going to taco bell.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"