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Transportation Earth Technology

Hybrid Car Owners Not Likely To Buy Another Hybrid 998

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

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  • The cost difference between a regular gas sedan and a hybrid of the same size is generally not offset by the savings in fuel costs for driving it. Why do it again if it didn't work the first time?
  • Diesel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) * <> on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:05PM (#39623997) Journal

    I'd buy a diesel again in a heart beat. I get 40 miles to the gallon city in my Volkswagen Sportswagen. And diesel is 30 cents cheaper a gallon than petrol. Plus, the technology is robust. Diesel is definite the way to go if you want high gas mileage and low costs.

  • What? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jethro ( 14165 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:17PM (#39624165) Homepage

    If you factor out Prius owners? The most popular brand of hybrid? The one bought by people who like hybrids? Yeah I suppose if you don't count the people who like hybrids, then only 35% of the rest still like hybrids?...

    I'm on my second hybrid. Neither has been a Prius. The next one might be. I'd love an all-electric but I'm still waiting for a practical one. Maybe if they start selling the volt up here.

  • Re:expectations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guru42101 ( 851700 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:23PM (#39624253)
    I get about what I expected from my wife's 2005 Hybrid Civic. Only negative really is the lifetime of the batteries. We lucked out that they failed just before the warranty ended. However, when I was looking for a new car I didn't get the hybrid as the long term cost of a Hybrid is higher and in the current market I've got to make some cuts somewhere. What I would like to see is 100% battery powered vehicles where refilling worked like propane tanks. I just stop by and they yank out the batteries and give me a fully charged set. If a battery goes bad they take care of it and the cost of replacing / recycling batteries is spread among the cost of everyone.
  • Not buying again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stupor ( 165265 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#39624357)

    Civic Hybrid owner:
    - Great on gas mileage
    - Gutless.. I have an easier time passing people in my turbo diesel truck
    - Weird issues with batteries.. Leave the car for a week, batteries are dead.
    - Did I mention Gutless?

    Overall, I've been happy with the gas mileage but I won't buy another hybrid. The experience outside of the good gas mileage has been disappointing. I'll probably try the diesel car route like a VW Jetta the next time around.

  • Re:expectations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:32PM (#39624383)

    >>>STILL use outdated nimh batteries instead of lithium

    Lithium-ion is explosive (see the various laptop and iPod videos). Putting that next to a gasoline-filled tank == unwise. Also NiMH is not environmentally-toxic so it is the greener choice versus lithium.

    And supercaps hold very little energy. Enough for a few seconds "takeoff" and that's it. Battery makes more sense since they can hold upto 5 minutes of full acceleration (not all at once of course).

  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @06:56PM (#39624705)

    I remember Hot Rod magazine back in the 70's talking about rebuilding an old car being better for the environment than collecting tons of aluminum cans. They took a 4000 pound family car and built it for efficiency and power winding up with a car that could carry a family of 6, get over 25 miles to the gallon and turn 13's in the quarter mile. Not bad for 70's tech. I've thought about doing something similar with my 98 Grand Marquis. It gets 24mpg on the highway now I'd like to see if I can get it up over 30mpg. For around town though an electric vehicle might be okay if the price was reasonable. It's only a 15 mile commute so it wouldn't be a problem with the short range of those vehicles.

  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:04PM (#39624793)

    Seriously, some people act like everyone drives hundreds of miles a day. Guess what? they don't. It is by far the exception, not the rule. If you drive 75 miles each way to work you are by far in the minority. Most people in that situation would move closer to their workplace.

    For the average commute, an electric with even a 73 mile range (the low estimate on the LEAF) would work fine. The average commute is 16 miles, one way. That means you could go to work, get off work, go somewhere else, and go home and still be fine (remember it refuels every night).

    I get tired of this bitching like everyone needs a car that can drive tons of miles so that is a reason electrics can't work. No, not at all actually. Some people do. For them, electrics are out. However most other don't, for them it is an option.

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:06PM (#39624811) Homepage

    The Volt is not really an electric car. It's better described as a plug-in hybrid -- i.e. a hybrid with a much bigger battery that can be charged from the wall. Chevy does a good job of obscuring that fact, though. My point is that the Volt would be counted as a hybrid in the referenced survey.

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

    I say good for them. As a hybrid owner, I think the "hybrid" brand is wearing thin, after being abused by nearly everyone in the industry (and in general). The original and 2nd gen hybrids (Prius, Insight) were pretty sweet vehicles compared to the competition. Then you had the "mild hybrid" trucks and cars that just stopped the engine at the light and silly half-measures. Then you had "flex-fuel" which also got marketed as a "hybrid", "hybrid" sports cars that only added power and no

    The time has come for plug-in hybrids, and the Volt wherever I've heard it around here is not only incredibly silent (unlike my Prius when I accellerate from a stop), but damn quick. So the gas engine kicks in when driving past a certain range - that's a *feature*. Now whether it's worth the MSRP is another story entirely.

    Personally (back on topic), I won't buy another hybrid because my current hybrid is doing great and faring quite well in it's 7th year. Perhaps that's the reason - no need to upgrade. If I did want to buy another vehicle it would be a Volt (ie, plugin), or full electric with full commute range like a Tesla Model S (drool).

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:06PM (#39624815) Journal

    I knew a number of people who bought hybrid suv's. There are convential gas hybrids which are only slightly smaller vehiciles that now get better gas milage than their hybrids do and at a lower purchase price. None of them want another hybrid at this point.

  • by hessian ( 467078 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @07:29PM (#39625033) Homepage Journal

    A hybrid is a significantly more complex vehicle that uses more toxic parts than a regular car.

    In addition, a few million retired Baby Boomers (this is the only type of person I see driving a Prius) driving hybrids will not impact the environment at all.

    Our environmental problem consists of two real problems and many false ones. The real problems: (a) overpopulation and (b) reckless industrial growth. The fake problems: inefficient lightbulbs, unrecycled condoms, non-hybrid cars, non-"green" cleaners, etc.

    If we want to stop our slow but ongoing ecocide, we need to change the way we live. You can start by buying a car with a reasonably sized engine, making as few trips as possible, and keeping that car for 20-30 years as once was done.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @08:12PM (#39625413) Homepage Journal

    That's just it - I'm not likely to buy another hybrid for quite some time because my '05 Civic is absolutely trouble-free; it's at 128,000 miles, all by me, has never had any work done on it besides maintenance, has gotten 46.5 MPG over its lifespan, and has absolutely paid for itself by now in terms of fuel savings.

    When I bought this car in April '05 gasoline was ~$2.10/gal and at that price it would have taken ~8 years to pay for itself. Now that fuel is locally $3.60 and the car's paid for, it's all gravy. The question is how long my battery pack will last - it's warranted for 100,000 miles but seems to be holding a charge OK, however replacing it at the dealership seems to be around $4k, which is a lot of gasoline.

    Assuming that we haven't advanced much in alternative fuels by the time my car is ready for the scrapper's, I certainly would buy another hybrid then, but I think I'd go for a parallel hybrid system that can run the electric motor independently, rather than the Civic's serial system which uses the motor only as a booster for the gasoline engine.

  • by amRadioHed ( 463061 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @09:15PM (#39625997)

    ... and loads of heavy and mostly ineffective sound deadening are burdening the modern car.

    Why do auto makers include so much ineffective sound dampening material? Seems it would be a no-brainer to leave it out if it could make a difference in gas mileage.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Monday April 09, 2012 @10:00PM (#39626311)

    Because people want quiet cars these days. Sit in any new car and compare to a 20-year-old car of the same price (after adjusting for inflation); new cars are much, much quieter. That material isn't "ineffective".

  • Sorry, I've seen studies that go just the opposite. Got data?

  • Re:Diesel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @06:21AM (#39628611)
    Couple other factors:

    Diesel has about 14% higher energy density per unit volume. It weighs more and there are physically more molecules in it per gallon. So 35 mpg diesel is actually closer to 31 mpg in a direct comparison with gasoline mpg. The Union of Concerned Scientists [] recommends adjusting diesel mpg down by 20% when comparing to gasoline to mpg. And for emissions they recommend adjusting it down 25% when comparing to gasoline.

    Fuel consumption is actually the inverse of mpg. mpg is miles per gallon; fuel consumption is gallons per mile. This is why the rest of the world uses liters per 100 km to measure fuel efficiency. Since mpg is the inverse of what we're really interested in, the high end of mpg actually represents the smallest fuel savings. For a given commute, switching from a 15 mpg vehicle to a 25 mpg vehicle saves more fuel than switching from a 25 mpg vehicle to a 50 mpg vehicle. This is despite the first switch being an improvement of "only" 10 mpg, while the second switch is an improvement of 25 mpg. If you measure it in gallons per 100 miles, it becomes obvious:

    15 mpg = 6.67 gal per 100 mi
    25 mpg = 4 gal per 100 mi (improvement of 2.67 gal per 100 mi)

    25 mpg = 4 gal per 100 mi
    50 mpg = 2 gal per 100 mi (improvement of 2 gal per 100 mi)

    So sky-high mpg figures like 50 mpg or 100 mpg actually aren't that impressive in terms of fuel savings, the use of mpg exaggerates their benefit. Our research into more fuel-efficient vehicles really should be concentrating on improving the mileage of gas guzzlers like trucks and SUVs, not on developing super-efficient vehicles like the Prius.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2012 @09:22AM (#39629867)

    I think the "buy a bike" guy started the journey up the hyperbola, which is kind of the AC's point. For most people, a bike is not a realistic alternative.

    We bought a house almost equidistantly between my wife and my workplace, as much as school systems and personal safety would allow. Still, my commute is 10 miles (5 of those highway) and my wife's is 5 miles (no highway). My wife could ride her bike in to work, except that she rides through the worst area of Philadelphia. Driving is unnerving at certain hours - biking is out of the question. Even public transit is out of the question unless it is daylight, and even then it is a bit dicey. I could ride to work, avoiding the highway in favor of less-direct back roads. However, there are no "bike lanes" that can get me to work, and so I'd be sharing some roads with no shoulders in parts. I see people biking and I see how close cars get to them. I've been there... no thanks.

    If it were just laziness, people would ride motor scooters or motorcycles - it's not laziness, it's fear. Cars are safer than motorcycles or bikes. I think I read that cars are safer per-mile than walking (because people get hit by cars).

    What I would pay for is a $20,000 economy commuter car that ran on electricity and got 40 miles per charge. This isn't absurd. The Nissan Leaf has a 24kWh battery and does about 80 miles on a charge. So I only need a 12kWh battery. Assuming the cost of batteries to be around $700/kWh, that gets me a $8400 discount on my Leaf... they might even be able to cheapen it further by switching to a lower density storage solution and maybe reducing the cooling. I'd also be willing to go even cheaper and use a manual gearbox so they don't need an AC motor. So a $35,000 car could almost trivially be reduced to $25,000. I'm sure you could cheapen the Leaf even more to get to my $25,000 number :)

I go on working for the same reason a hen goes on laying eggs. -- H.L. Mencken