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Should ants's dad get a hybrid?
Yeah, they're GRRRReat! 86%  86%  [ 18 ]
No, they are worse than r3c0rd3rs. 14%  14%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 21
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 Post subject: Hybrid Cars
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 11:10 pm 
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Sometime last week, the old adage that FORD = Found On Road Dead came true. The car which had been perpetually plagued with problems finally decided to finish the farce. So now my dad needs a new car.

He's considering a hybrid, because his commute adds up to about 70 miles a day, on Los Angeles freeways, and it looks as though the prices of them have come (just barely) within the realm of possibility.

Do any of you wonderful people have experience with hybrid cars? And can they hold their own in the world-famous L.A. traffic?

thanks,
ants

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:41 am 
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Seventy miles a day? Yes, get a hybrid car.

My commute used to be 60 miles a day, back when I had a Real Job(tm). My next car is going to be a hybrid, once Old Reliable breaks down---but hopefully not for a few more years.

Caj


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 4:38 am 
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Will it have enough power?
How fast will it accelerate?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:30 am 
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I did some research on this when I wrecked my VW recently.

The Honda Civic hybrid is well regarded. It is quite a bit pokier than the standard Civic - 12 seconds to 60 mph rather than 8 seconds for the all gas. The hybrid has a 1.3L gas engine versus the 1.7L for the all gas. The hybrid is priced nearly 50% higher (around $19,000 US). Gas mileage is about 50mpg highway, very slightly lower around town.

The Toyota Prius costs about $1000 more, is maybe half a second faster to 60 mph and gets better gas mileage around town. I heard mixed reviews on it for the 2003 models. For the most part is was not as well regarded as the Honda. The 2004, from what I've since heard, is a big improvement. It's a weird looking car, but much less dowdy looking than the Honda, which is as bland looking as a car can get.

Both of these are 4-door sedans, compact size. The two makers are pretty much considered to be the standard bearers for reliability.

There were three main reasons I didn't buy a hybrid last December when I was shopping for a new car. First was the questionable resale value. It's too soon to know what the technology will be when I'm ready to sell the car, and I'm concerned about not getting a good return when I trade the car in. The second reason was the $5000 or $6000 premium. Though my savings on gasoline over the next three years would make up for that outlay, it was too big psychological hump to get over at the time of purchase. Finally, I decided I needed something with a little more oomph to contend with the aggressive driving style most of my fellow commuters here in the NYC area employ.

Hope this has been helpful.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 6:17 am 
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Or you could get one of the latest Chinese-made Hybrid Trucks...

Image

Excellent gas mileage, low emissions, but the 0-60 is a bit disappointing and reverse parking is an issue. :D

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:07 am 
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I test drove a Prius during my car-buying thing in November. I thought it was terrific. I would love to have one. Because I own four cars (1 for me, 1 for the missus, and 1 each for my 2 daughters in college) I just couldn't afford the 19k price tag. I settled for the Echo, which gets very good mpg for a conventional engine.

I think the hybrid technology is going to be major.
That is until President Bush gets the kinks out of that hydrogen cell engine he is evidently working on in the basement on weekends.

Dale


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 9:10 am 
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I drove an underpowered car here in St. Louis
and then doubled the horsepower in the
new one. much safer, though I still could use
more power. Getting on the freeway is
much less existential than it used
to be, and the car takes
low octane and gets good mileage
for a conventional car. As I remember
LA freeways, 8 to 60 is preferable
to 12. But maybe I misremember. Best


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:06 am 
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I agree with Dale about the Echo, and would add that the Matrix's gas mileage is pretty good too. The Matrix is a bigger car and you can even sleep in the back (the back seats fold down to make a perfectly flat cargo area) You'll get over 40 mpg for the Echo, and about 36 mpg for the Matrix, and both of them are much cheaper than the hybrids.

The hybrid makes sense only if you really care about the environment and are willing to make a hefty "donation" (in terms of price tag) to help save the planet. You will probably not save enough money in gasoline costs over the life of the car to justify the extra expense on purely financial terms. Gasoline in the United States is still cheaper than bottled water.

Assuming 15,000 miles a year, you'll spend about $382 a year on gasoline for a Prius. For a Ford Focus, you'll spend about $678. If you keep your car 10 years, you'll save $2960 in fuel costs. But that's not even close to the sticker price difference between a Focus and a Prius.

I personally would be reluctant to buy a car that gets less than 40 mpg, but that's because I make my living writing about global warming ;-) However, I'm a tall guy (6'4") and most small cars don't have enough headroom or legroom for me. So I'd probably settle on the Matrix if I had to buy a new car today.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:30 am 
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I can't wait for the fuel-cell cars to come out!! The hydrogen based cars... I hafta do a little speech here.. sorry... :) the difference with fuel cell is that it works with hydrogen AND oxygen and they are trickled down through membranes and when they are allowed to combine with eachother *whamo* (well smaller than that) you have electrical discharges.. byproduct of course is the ever-harmful product of ... water.

I got to ride in Grintechs experimental vehicle a few years ago .. WOOHOO!!! If all fuel cell cars run like that sucker... I WANT ONE!! Man that puppy ran like a decent V6 or better! And supposedly the range was nearly 320 miles at the time before needing to refuel. BUT this one had a pure Hydrogen tank on it, not some of the newer less efficient attempts they're trying to work out. HOpe it gets figgered out though.

I think the main hurdles holding us back are not just production costs, but everybody's inside fears of pressurized hydrogen tanks (may not even happen), not to mention oil industries having a cow. At least with hybrids they still have a market.

So anyway... off my soapbox and into the fun.. I vote for FUEL CELL CARS!!! ZOOOOOOOOOM!!!

As far as an actual purchase, I got to ride in one of the Hondas in November last year and it wasn't a bad little car at all. Very smooth and comfy... no real difference in town anyway. Didn't get on the highway, but it didn't seem overly doggy on take off either. The guy driving me around had nothing but good things to say about it. So that's all I know.

Take care,
John

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 10:31 am 
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I test drove the Civic Hybrid last spring, and decided that it was underpowered to the point that it would be dangerous in this area. The new Prius has a lot more power than the previous model (>2 seconds faster 0-60 than the Civic), plus is close to 60 mpg. I think it's worth a test drive, but the waiting list is several months now.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:03 am 
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I read an interesting article awhile back (don't remember where) about the history of corn in the U.S. and some interesting problems associated with it.

It seems, we have always produced more corn in this country than we have any use for as such. The result has been, people have looked for, and found, ways to add value to the corn by converting it into something else.

The first value added corn product was whiskey. If I remember the dates correctly from the article, in the late 18th century and later, the country was practically awash in corn whiskey, with all kinds of associated social problems. Eventually, the whiskey production was reduced, but another value added corn product had to be developed to take its place, since there's no way to use all the corn we produce without converting it to something else.

Voila! Corn syrup. If you go through the grocery shelves reading ingredient labels, you'll find it's in almost everything. Now the problem isn't excessive alcohol consumption, as it was a century or two ago. It's an epidemic of obesity. Certainly, the presence of corn syrup in almost everything we eat isn't the only cause for the problem, but it is a contributing factor, nonetheless.

Now someone has come along with a technology that efficiently converts ethanol, made from corn, to hydrogen. Let's keep our fingers crossed. I would love to see the excess corn crop converted to non-polluting fuel for hydrogen driven technologies and less corn syrup in our food supply.

Best wishes,
Jerry


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:05 am 
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I have good friends that have the Prius. They really like it. It's 2 years old now, and it has a little hesitation on the get go. The newer models may be improved there.

Also, I don't know if this is just a state thing where I live, but can't you get a tax break for buying a hybrid car? I guess you'd probably have to itemize. I know turbo tax asked me if I had bought one last year.

SwtCaro


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:18 am 
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I posted a thread last year about the Civic hybrid I bought:

http://chiffboard.mati.ca/viewtopic.php ... ght=hybrid

We still love the car (to the extent one can love a pretty standard car, anyway). I live in the SF area, and it's great for traffic here, which approaches LA for horror nowadays. It's almost funny to think of needing lots of power for getting onto freeways in SF and LA, esp. at rush hour, when merging onto the freeway tends to be something you do at a crawl rather than at speed!

We've driven in LA, too, and had no trouble there, for what it's worth. The nice thing was driving from MArin County to LA on one tank, then driving aruond LA for a couple days, and not filling up again until the return drive home!

The environmental aspects were what swayed us; as others note, you probably won't save as much on gas as the cost differential will bite you. However, we bought the car before I was laid off, so there was plenty more money around the place.

My mother bought a Matrix, and really likes it. Nice for hauling stuff around.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:35 am 
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I think one of the most dangerous things you can do is drive a car that is underpowered for its driving environment. I have a car that is by no means small or underpowered yet find myself nearly run off the road by SUVs and trucks, and it's not through lack of assertion or aggressivness!

I need to see more size (I'm 6'4" tall), lower cost, and better performance (!!!!) from hybrids or fuel-cell vehicles before I'd buy one. I do think that both are fantastic ideas but the execution is lacking right now.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:50 am 
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Pat Cannady wrote:
I think one of the most dangerous things you can do is drive a car that is underpowered for its driving environment.


This perceived need for power always mystifies me. I drive my girlfriend's little 1998 Hyundai Accent and I live in a city notorious for its wild, erratic, and speedthirsty drivers. I have never felt that her little car is underpowered or that I'm about to be run off the road. And I've driven that car through much of New England as well, including Boston rush-hour traffic and up steep snowy Vermont dirt roads in midwinter.


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