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Oracle of Delphi

Future hybrids could be worth waiting for

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The next major development in the hybrid space is expected in 2010, when GM’s Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, is expected to go into production. The vehicle can charge off a common household outlet.

By Roland Jones

Associate editor

MSNBC

Time was when hybrid gas-electric vehicles appealed only to the greenest car consumers more concerned about saving the environment than saving on gasoline bills. Gas prices hitting $4 a gallon have changed all that.

Now there’s an out-and-out stampede to buy hybrid vehicles, as drivers downscale from large SUVs to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Popular models like the Honda Civic Hybrid are in short supply, and dealers are reporting waiting lists.

Toyota, maker of the popular Prius, is struggling to keep up with booming demand. The Japanese automaker said this week it’s unable to make enough batteries to supply demand for the hybrids, and the crunch on battery production is likely to remain a problem for the rest of the year.

It’s clear that for many consumers hybrids have gone from an eco-friendly fad to a virtual necessity. Now the issue for many drivers is whether they should jump on the hybrid bandwagon now or wait for some of the new hybrid models expected to arrive in showrooms over the next few years.

One issue is that, even though gas prices are at record levels, hybrids are priced at a significant premium over similar, conventional models. Depending on how much you drive, it could take years to make up the extra cost with savings at the pump. (See our “Hybrid payback” interactive above for information on the payback of some of the most popular hybrids currently available.)

“A lot people are freaked out by high gas prices right now, and they’re making panicked decisions that impact their finances, so it’s probably not the best time to get into a hybrid car,” said Phil Reed, consumer advice editor at automobile information Web site Edmunds.com.

“We are still in a plateau in terms of hybrid development and there’s nothing very new out there, and what’s available right now is high-priced,” Reed said. “The entire automotive industry is reshaping itself, so if you have a car that you can keep for a few more years it might be a good time to relax and wait for some of the good things that are about to come out."

The next major development in the hybrid space is expected in 2010, when GM’s Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, is expected to go into production, says Aaron Bragman, an automotive analyst at consultancy Global Insight.

The Volt, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet, is expected to go on sale in early 2011 and may be worth waiting for, said Bragman.

Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25188772/

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This article is trying to tell me the Volt will be economical when it comes out?

Last I heard, rumors had it pinned well above $30k. I have doubts GM will be able to get the costs under control at all, let alone the first year of limited production.

If you want to talk about ECONOMICAL hybrids (the ones where you actually save money), look to the new 2009/10 Honda "Global Small Hybrid" (GSH), which will be around $19,000 and get 50-60 MPG. Looks like the author didn't get the memo on Honda's latest offerings, he only briefly mentions them and throws a date of 2015 out there, which sounds like a date he pulled right from his anus.

Just to set the record straight. The Honda GSH (maybe called Insight) will be out early 2009. The CR-Z will come out "sometime" after the new hybrid, a date has not been announced but it is confirmed for our market. I am going to guess around one year following the GSH, which would make sense given the time frame in which the concept was shown, and assuming a new Civic Hybrid will be out for the 2011 model year along with the redesigned regular Civic. It's possible the CR-Z will come out after the new Civic hybrid, but I doubt it will be anything more than 2 years from now. The latest I imagine would be a 2011 model. The Fit hybrid has not been confirmed for our market yet, but will probably come out sometime in the next 3 years in other markets, and may find its way here if demand is there. So I really don't see where this author gets his "2015" date from, other than trying to make Honda look bad or "late to the game", which is ridiculous.

Edited by siegen
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This article is trying to tell me the Volt will be economical when it comes out?

Last I heard, rumors had it pinned well above $30k. I have doubts GM will be able to get the costs under control at all, let alone the first year of limited production.

If you want to talk about ECONOMICAL hybrids (the ones where you actually save money), look to the new 2009/10 Honda "Global Small Hybrid" (GSH), which will be around $19,000 and get 50-60 MPG. Looks like the author didn't get the memo on Honda's latest offerings, he only briefly mentions them and throws a date of 2015 out there, which sounds like a date he pulled right from his anus.

Just to set the record straight. The Honda GSH (maybe called Insight) will be out early 2009. The CR-Z will come out "sometime" after the new hybrid, a date has not been announced but it is confirmed for our market. I am going to guess around one year following the GSH, which would make sense given the time frame in which the concept was shown, and assuming a new Civic Hybrid will be out for the 2011 model year along with the redesigned regular Civic. It's possible the CR-Z will come out after the new Civic hybrid, but I doubt it will be anything more than 2 years from now. The latest I imagine would be a 2011 model. The Fit hybrid has not been confirmed for our market yet, but will probably come out sometime in the next 3 years in other markets, and may find its way here if demand is there. So I really don't see where this author gets his "2015" date from, other than trying to make Honda look bad or "late to the game", which is ridiculous.

Think more like 40k and GM still won't make any money off of it at 1st.

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Think more like 40k and GM still won't make any money off of it at 1st.

Not to mention the extremely low volume of 10,000 units produced by the end of 2011 will make it hard to get.

Not that I think it would be a good idea to buy one anyways...

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Not to mention the extremely low volume of 10,000 units produced by the end of 2011 will make it hard to get.

Not that I think it would be a good idea to buy one anyways...

But didn't you say this would NEVER come out???

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But didn't you say this would NEVER come out???

Here's a question for you: What is in a name?

If there is a guy down the block from me named Jesus would that be proof that the Jesus of the Bible existed? Or would he also have to walk on water, be the son of God, have lived around 0 AD, etc.?

While initially I did think the Volt was pure PR fluff (still do), I believe I said that they wouldn't be able to produce it based on the specs that they claimed. At that time it was sub $30,000, 40 Mile range, 50+ MPG, mass production in 2010, 10,000 recharges, etc.

Here is the bad news that we know of already:

Cost looks to be $40,000 or more.

40 Mile range looks to to degrade to 20 Miles quite easily (highway, sligh inclines, AC, etc.)

50+ MPG using range extender is in doubt (it was always in doubt, but even more so now that they are rumoured to be swtiching from the turbo 1.0L 3 Cyl to a NA 1.4 4 cyl).

10,000 produced by the end of 2011 is a bit of a stretch for mass availability in 2010.

GM still has no real idea if 10,000 recharges are possible

By the time it comes out it may be a $100,000 Cobalt with a 9V and a V8 ;) But I guess if they call it the Volt you will be satisfied?

We now know the concept was pretty much an empty shell with a couple of standard car batteries under the hood. So in that regard I think my Back To The Future/Flux Capacitor analogy was not too bad.

But it is true that I never thought GM would take the Volt as far as they have.

Edited by GXT
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I've heard some behind the scenes lobbying is going on in Washington so that vehicles like the Volt will qualify for $5,000 eco rebates. Although that isn't ideal, it certainly would help vehicles like the Volt become more affordable.

I personally don't think ANY of the hybrids are currently worth the extra money, but they are constantly improving and we have to start somewhere. Since so much of the mid-west's electricity is coal-fired, the 'green' factor of these vehicles is questionable at best. At $5 and $6 a gallon, hybrids make a lot of sense, but I suspect oil prices are going to sag back to $100 or less in the next several months.

Although I resent having to pay a 'speculator' premium on oil at this time, if this proves to be the tipping point to get some serious societal changes in North America over the long term, then I will graciously tolerate high oil prices for now.

We are hearing so much information and disinformation about the Volt. I don't think GM ever believed bringing this vehicle to market would be easy, but perhaps the shock therapy will be good for the company.

Provided it lasts long enough to produce it.

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I just hope GM survives long enough to bring it to market and that it doesn't get killed when they are in receivership. One way or another, I want to see what happens. I don't mind being right, but in this case I would be very happy to be wrong.

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I personally don't think ANY of the hybrids are currently worth the extra money, but they are constantly improving and we have to start somewhere. Since so much of the mid-west's electricity is coal-fired, the 'green' factor of these vehicles is questionable at best. At $5 and $6 a gallon, hybrids make a lot of sense, but I suspect oil prices are going to sag back to $100 or less in the next several months.

If the new Honda Global Small Hybrid lives up to what has been stated/expected it should be well worth the extra money.

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My eyes are on the stats for the next gen BAS system from GM. Hope they get battery supplier issues sorted out on that front, too.

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