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    Hybrid Vehicles Are Losing Their Appeal


    William Maley

    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com

    January 16, 2012

    Automakers have been pushing Hybrid vehicles for the past few years as a way for owners to save gas and the environment. However, according to LMC Automotive, hybrid sales in the United States have slowed last year to 2.2% compared to 2.4% in 2010.

    Mike Jackson, chief executive of auto retail chain AutoNation Inc., says that while 75% of customers that walked into his showrooms wanted to talk about hybrids, they only make 2.5% of AutoNation sales.

    “What happens from the 75 percent consideration to the 2.5 percent commitment? They look at the price premium for the technology, which is already subsidized and discounted, and say ‘the payback period is too long; not for me.’ It’s a back-of-the envelope conversation on the part of the American consumer,” said Jackson.

    Hybrid vehicles face two challenges: the cost of hybrids haven't come down fast enough to justify the added expense and regular internal combustion engines have become more efficient.David Champion, senior director of the Auto Test Center of Consumer Reports points out that a regular Civic gets 32 MPG combined while the Civic hybrid achieves 44 MPG combined. That extra MPG means $322 savings in fuel for a year. But with a larger price tag, the Civic hybrid takes more than six years to get the money back.

    What’s more, improvements to a regular internal combustion engine can potentially improve fuel economy by 40% while costing an extra $2,000 per model by 2020. Also, putting a vehicle on a diet and doing better aerodynamics can lower consumption by up to 10% and would cost approximately $200 per car by 2020.

    “The advantages of hybrids are getting harder to justify. It’s the cost differential. Consumers are rational and they understand the cost of ownership,” said Scott Corwin, vice president of consulting firm Booz & Co., New York.

    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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    Let's also get real, Hybrids / pure electric only make sense in big cities with recharge stations and moderate weather.

    Seattle is a perfect example of extreme tree huggers going overboard on putting charging stations all over even having the first ones in the country on the passes as free rapid charging stations paid by your hard working tax payer.

    This weekend, these electric tree huggers who want to drive their front wheel electric auto's up the pass to go snowboarding ended up causing headaches for the rest of us in our properly equiped 4x4 or AWD auto. They get stuck, or just plain die at 12 degrees and heavy snow.

    They have their place, but that is in the city and they need to keep them there. It is a small market which is overblown.

    Reality is we can do much better with diesel, alternate fuels like Propane, etc. Many better ways than Green house gas creating Batter powered auto's.

    Yes for those that think they are saving the world, wake up to the fact that your battery pack in your Nissan leaf create more gas during it's productions than 10 years of a compact running on regular gas.

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    I'm wondering why the developments to the ICEs haven't trickled into hybrids to make them even better. The Pruis, the current Fusion, the Volt..... none have direct injection. None have low boost turbo charging with direct injection.

    The new Camry Hybrid comes with the same 2.5 liter 4-cylinder as the base 4-cylinder, albeit slightly de-tuned. For real fuel savings, that engine should be downsized to somewhere around 1.8 liters with direct injection and light turbo added.

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    If we are going to say that Hybrids like the VOLT should be the future for ALL Auto's then let's take a page form the RV industry where they use tiny Generators to create power all night long to run the Heaters, Microwaves, etc.

    With this thought in mind, then we should be able to create an AWD Electric auto ( Electric motor at each wheel) and have a small 1 liter DI generator that charges the battery pack, This should be good for crazy gas milage and make all the Tree Huggers happy! :P

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    That concept has been done... just hasn't been put in production yet.

    The Volt is sort of a beta version in this regard. A better engine of smaller capacity would have improved mileage further. It would be even more amazing with a <1 liter turbo diesel.

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    That concept has been done... just hasn't been put in production yet.

    The Volt is sort of a beta version in this regard. A better engine of smaller capacity would have improved mileage further. It would be even more amazing with a <1 liter turbo diesel.

    That is cool to hear, I would be very interested in an AWD vehicle like this with a <1 liter turbo diesel generator. :D

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    I've seen NOTHING "amazing" about electrics and gas/electric hybrids. They're worthless. They suck and they have their own set of problems more prohibitive than any real internal combustion vehicle.

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    My week with a Lacrosse e-Assist driving to detroit and back runs completely counter to that. In fact, I would prefer that power train in the Terrain I have this week.

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    Not really faint praise at all. It's a 4-cylinder that rolls like a 6 and gets great gas mileage verse a 6 cyclinder that needs to down shift often and gets relatively poor gas mileage even amongst its peers.

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    customer bought a used from me yesterday, they already have a camry hybrid. said good mileage in the city in summer. drops off 15-20% in winter in cold......doesn't run as well in winter.....

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    Drewbert, where would the battery stack go in a Theta application of eek-Assist? Where would the plumbing for the battery cooling fan go? Do you believe the LaCrosse eek-Assist powertrain could be lifted and put into a Terrain, which is a blocky, AWD CUV, and be worth the price in mileage savings? Do you believe a Theta eek-Assist vehicle could get mileage that is worth the entry price, worth the potential for high repair bills after warranty expiration, and worth the complication v. the new 2.5L DI 4 by itself?

    The market is speaking to the carmakers here. All this investment in electrification is for what, if the customer will not plunk down their money and commit to the compromises intrinsic in their design?

    Edited by ocnblu
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    Back when I was young we had steam powered automobiles, none of this gasoline tomfoolery. Eventually steam power was phased out and the world was worse of for it. Then we had the old crisis in the `70's and I would tell people, "See! See! If your cars were powered by coal this wouldn't be an issue."

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    I'm not sold on hybrids either, but as a devil's advocate attempt...

    Any chance the earthquake in japan affected hybrid availability and thus reduced sales over what they might've been?

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    Drewbert, where would the battery stack go in a Theta application of eek-Assist? Where would the plumbing for the battery cooling fan go? Do you believe the LaCrosse eek-Assist powertrain could be lifted and put into a Terrain, which is a blocky, AWD CUV, and be worth the price in mileage savings? Do you believe a Theta eek-Assist vehicle could get mileage that is worth the entry price, worth the potential for high repair bills after warranty expiration, and worth the complication v. the new 2.5L DI 4 by itself?

    The market is speaking to the carmakers here. All this investment in electrification is for what, if the customer will not plunk down their money and commit to the compromises intrinsic in their design?

    1. The battery shape would need to be changed.

    2. Yes there is room for it.

    3. It would probably end up being a more space efficient design than can be done in the LAX.

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