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Opinions are fun. My friends tell me I am someone with lots of opinions and that's fine since I don't get mad at others when they disagree with me. In this same spirit I am interested in hearing yours views as long as you are able to share your views without boiling over. I look forward to hearing from you. I tend to write in the form of short essays most of the time, but contributions do not need to be in this same format or size. Some of the content here will date itself pretty quickly, other content may be virtually timeless, this is for the reader to judge.


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Let’s move past Hybrid cars                                                                                     Print this essay

Posted at: May/07/2009 : Posted by: mel

Related Category: Environment,

I am sure this will offend someone, but hybrid car technology in its current implementation just doesn’t work for me. It is true that modern hybrid automotive technology is cool stuff from a technical side. There is also no doubt that they can get better mileage than their non-hybrid counterparts, but the numbers just don’t work for me.

Let’s do the comparison of a Toyota Prius and a Nissan Versa. Both cars have models with similar interior space and similar acceleration characteristics making them comparable choices to fill a need for a family of 3-4. Additionally, both cars come from manufactures with good quality and longevity expectations. The Prius out the door including sales tax and license fees will be approximately $26,000. The Versa out the door with an automatic transmission, tax, and license is going to run approximately $16,500. I'm sure someone will argue that they can get a better price on one or the other because of a neighbor or relative, but for general comparison I think we can ignore cousin Guido. I think for simplicity we can also ignore insurance and tires.

Despite window stickers to the contrary, most Prius owners are getting about 46.7 miles per gallon (reference Consumer Reports). Over the course of 100,000 miles that will mean purchasing 2142 gallons of gas. If we plan for an average cost per gallon of $3.50, that means spending $7,497 for gas. Between purchase price and gasoline that means the Prius will cost $33,497 to operate through the first 100k miles.

Now for the Nissan Versa. Again, referring to Consumer Reports for actual mileage despite the window sticker, most Versa owners are getting 28.7 miles per gallon. Over the course of 100,000 miles that will mean purchasing 3484 gallons of gas. Again, if we plan for an average cost per gallon of $3.50, that means spending $12,194 for gas. Between purchase price and gasoline that means the Versa will cost $28,694 to operate through the first 100k miles.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to burn less non-renewable resources, I want to lower our dependence on foreign energy, and want to lower my carbon footprint. By choosing to use the Versa as opposed to something bigger and heavier that might get 18 miles on a gallon of gas I am accomplishing all of this. Obviously I would hope to do better, but at what cost. I have things I can do with the $4,800 I save. If you are a math geek you can play with the above numbers and you will find that for this 100,000 mile test model the Prius and Versa don’t break even until gas reaches $7.00 a gallon.

My economy begins in my wallet and I just don’t see current automotive hybrid technology living up to expectations. So where did we go wrong, back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s you could buy a Honda CVCC that got 45-50 miles per gallon. If they could do that then, why aren’t we doing a lot better 30 years later?

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Kelly Catlin Walker
Never let the urgent crowd out the important.
 
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