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Another Stab At Sorting Hybrid Hype From Reality

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the where-the-pedal-meets-the-brass-tacks dept.

Earth 633

Attila Dimedici writes "Eric Peters makes the case that hybrids have been over-hyped. His argument is that in order to sell people on hybrid cars, automakers have emphasized the energy efficiency of hybrids in ideal conditions and failed to tell people that in most ordinary driving conditions they will not come close to meeting the numbers given. He refers to a recent case where an individual has chosen to forego membership in a class action law suit and has instead chosen to go to small claims court. He suggests that there is a significant chance that she will win there and that this will open up all of the manufacturers of hybrid vehicles to similar lawsuits. The article was on a rather partisan website, so I am curious what factors he has chosen to overemphasize to make his case. (Or what factors he has chosen to ignore to the same end.) I know that Slashdot has a large contingent of hybrid and EV supporters who are well educated on the subject (as well as a large contingent of those who are not so well educated)."

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First Anecdote! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622664)

My wife and I both have hybrid cars (a prius and an insight) and we both consistently get mileage in the mid 40s.

Re:First Anecdote! (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622856)

The big part is that a lot of the "savings" on a Hybrid assume you are driving it like a Hybrid should be.

Rather like all cars. They advertise a certain fuel efficiency, driven properly. Most people gun the accelerator off every stop, try to do 80 in a 55 zone down the freeway, and do other things that reduce their fuel efficiency. Meanwhile, you get people who do things like this [hypermiling.com] that can squeeze a lot more than the "normal" fuel efficiency out of even a standard vehicle.

The biggest thing with Hybrids is that they are designed to invert the normal efficiency ideas. Usually, you get a lot more efficiency driving a steady rate on the freeway. It's one reason they list dual "city/highway" mileage targets on the sales brochures. With a hybrid, that's not the case, because a lot of the efficiency gains have to do with recapturing energy from stop-and-start driving.

From TFS: "His argument is that in order to sell people on hybrid cars, automakers have emphasized the energy efficiency of hybrids in ideal conditions and failed to tell people that in most ordinary driving conditions they will not come close to meeting the numbers given."

We could easily rewrite as follows:
"His argument is that in order to sell people on compact cars, automakers have emphasized the energy efficiency of compacts in ideal conditions and failed to tell people that in most ordinary driving conditions they will not come close to meeting the numbers given."

TL:DR version: if you drive a Hybrid like a fucking sports car, you'll get sports car fuel efficiency. If you drive a Hybrid long distances on the highway, guess what, you'll get the raw gas mileage of the gas engine only minus whatever it's wasting on air conditioning and electrical generation.

Re:First Anecdote! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622956)

you know, I'm glad that your opinion of how a car should be driven is "driving it properly".

I'd also like to point out, that punching the gas at every stop light and doing all the "improper" things, my 200 hp, turbocharged GTI still averages about 31 mpg.

Hybrids, suck. Anyone who knows cars in the slightest knows hybrids suck. Hell, the batteries have traveled some 30,000 miles before the car gets assembled.

If you want to do fuels savings, shop around, learn something, and buy a tdi. No environmentally horrendous battery packs, and gets better gas mileage to boot. Hell, if the GP is right and gets mid 40s in his smug-mobile, I could probably get near that if I drove my car "properly".

Re:First Anecdote! (4, Informative)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623092)

I disagree. Although the younger crowd might stomp on the gas at every light, the adult crowd tends to outgrow such things. I have two hybrids and one common gasoline engine and the hybrids normally average the expected gas mileage that was on the sticker. No idea where TFA gets the idea that the claims are vaporware when my household seems to have no problem attaining such figures. I live in a large metroplex so the bulk of my driving is city driving which also happens to be the ideal condition for a hybrid.

Perhaps the author didn't understand the environments where hybrids shine and the difference between that and simple highway driving?

Such efforts would do better to require that the EPA redefine the monroney sticker/MPG standards to be a bit more realistic. If the auto manufacturer's comply with the requirements for the posted ratings, I don't think this will go anywhere. They recently revamped them to better reflect the (then) today's driver. I want to say it was about 10 years ago, prior to the influx of hybrid and electric vehicles. Sounds like it's time for another review.

Re:First Anecdote! (5, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623154)

I think there's a tendency to stomp on the gas for anyone whose time value exceeds their gas cost. I can cut an average of over 5 minutes per day off my commute by stomping the gas. Call that 2 hours per month. Does it cost me an extra $240 / month in gas an maintenance? No.

Re:First Anecdote! (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623066)

Which if you think about it is pretty pathetic. Diesel cars have been able to get that for years. There are definitely places like Minnesota where diesel is a lot less realistic, but hybrids aren't going to make much sense there either as batteries don't like the cold any more than diesel does.

MPG is overstated! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622668)

In other news, Santa is alleged not to exist.

Not only hybrids (4, Interesting)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622674)

For all kinds of cars the energy efficiency is measured in ideal conditions and quite often is very far from what you get in real life.

Re:Not only hybrids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622712)

Yeah, but the Liberals love hybrids, so let's just pick on them specifically!

Re:Not only hybrids (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622980)

No. She got 30mpg average in her hybrid Civic, I got 22 mpg average in my Honda Accord, and I accelerate to 60mph faster than you can say "Ayrton Senna".

Also not their decision (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622994)

The EPA defines how energy efficiency numbers are calculated, and those numbers have to be displayed on the car. The car companies could advertise a lower number, but there is no simple one number that tells the whole story, and you can't give a full technical report in a 30 ad. By all using the same system to determine the fuel efficiency at least the numbers are relatively meaningful even if the absolute value isn't directly true for all circumstances.

Finally, good luck suing a company for false advertising when the numbers they are using are determined by government testing, not by the company.

Re:Not only hybrids (0)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623152)

For all kinds of cars the energy efficiency is measured in ideal conditions and quite often is very far from what you get in real life.

Wrong, for all kinds of cars, the energy efficiency is calculated. The numbers on the sticker (in the US, at least) are *not* measured numbers.

My 2004 Prius still gets close to the EPA estimate (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623172)

I have a 2004 Prius with almost 200,000 miles on it. I have a 70 mile per day commute, 60 freeway/10 city, in Southern California. I drive at normal freeway speeds (for California), and had the carpool sticker which was discontinued last July. In the carpool lane, I was able to average between 75 and 80MPH during my commute, which has a few hills, but nothing major (I-405 South from 55 to San Juan Capistrano and back).

I have been averaging about 48MPG on this commute since the day that I got the car.

I am by no means a hypermiler, but when my wife drives the car, she is lucky to get 40MPG in the city, since she has more of a lead foot than I do. On a long freeway trip at 80MPH, she can get about 45MPG. I can get a higher mileage if I drive slower (65MPH or below). In that case it goes above 50MPG. If I get caught in traffic on the freeway, the mileage improves (during stop and go traffic).

My previous car was a Plymouth Neon that got 24MPG, so my MPG has been doubled for the last ~200K miles. According to my rough calculations, at that mileage, I purchased about 4166 gallons of gasoline since February of 2004. If you figure an average price of $3 per gallon (which is really not that far off for Southern California since 2004), that is $12,500. If I was able to keep my old car (which was going to require extensive/expensive repairs in order to continue operation), I would have paid $12,500 more for gasoline over that same time period. So therefore, I have saved $12,500 so far. The premium that I paid for the Hybrid system was less than that, so it has more than paid for itself. I ordered a Prius with none of the extra options except the side-curtain airbags which are now standard, so I paid quite a bit less than the fully loaded Priuses that they were selling at the time.

Hopefully my next car can be a pure electric, if I can make my Prius last that long. Maybe a plug-in Prius or Chevy Volt would be a reasonable alternative. That carpool sticker saved me thousands of hours of time as well (over the years). I really miss it!

Here's the big thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622708)

All these complaints about electric hybrid MPG are in a vacuum, only getting upset about them, but not about the regular gasoline engines, which are just as prone to error.

It's the same with the fires from the battery. So a fire happened long after an accident. With gasoline, the fire might just be right there, with the electric battery, you had more than enough time to go a mechanic and get it swapped out while they deal with the battery appropriate.

If I had space to park two cars at my house, I'd have an electric one as a regular vehicle, but with certain transportation needs, I'm not able to find them in an electric vehicle yet and I can't afford the conversion costs.

Re:Here's the big thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622860)

I'd have an electric one as a regular vehicle

Better yet, buy a bicycle!

Re:Here's the big thing... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622992)

I'd have an electric one as a regular vehicle

Better yet, buy a bicycle!

A bike is not always practical. Try commuting from Oakland to San Francisco on your bike (you can't take it on BART during commute hours).

Re:Here's the big thing... (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623186)

Every time I consider that option, I seem to see one of my two coworkers mangled by a commuter bike accident, and think: if that's the best plastic surgery can do, maybe I better be careful.

Re:Here's the big thing... (4, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622920)

>

If I had space to park two cars at my house, I'd have an electric one as a regular vehicle, but with certain transportation needs, I'm not able to find them in an electric vehicle yet and I can't afford the conversion costs.

If you live in a city, one option to having 2 cars might be to join a city car share program. If you rarely need the range of a gas powered engine, it could be a cost effective alternative to owning two cars. Plus you can choose the car that best meets your needs - take a sporty convertible for a weekend getaway with your wife, take a minivan on the long trip with the kids, take a pickup truck to the hardware store, etc.

http://www.zipcar.com/ [zipcar.com]
http://www.citycarshare.org/ [citycarshare.org]

the article seems a bit muddled (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622714)

Hybrids are probably overhyped, but I thought most educated consumers these days realized that they got the biggest efficiency gains in two types of driving: 1) lower-speed, stop-and-go city traffic, where they can mainly use the electric drivetrain, and sometimes turn off the engine entirely for brief periods; and 2) constant-speed highway travel, where they mainly use the gas engine, but one that can be made smaller due to being able to rely on the electric assist when needed. Yes, if you frequently accelerate at higher speeds, you'll use both the electric and gas engines and not save much. Do people not know this?

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622732)

The writer also doesn't realize that he can get 100MPG+ while going down the hill he drives up, negating his 10mpg going up the hill.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622902)

Uh, yeah. But you can get the same in a non-hybrid coasting down as well...

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623012)

Uh, yeah. But you can get the same in a non-hybrid coasting down as well...

But a conventional car doesn't regenerate gas in the tank on downhills to help you get over the next hill, while a hybrid will recharge the battery.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623102)

Precisely, the type of driving you're doing makes a huge impact on the results you get from driving a hybrid. Hybrids are really great in heavy traffic as they'll power down and go electric when you're in stop and go traffic. Regenerating some of the energy lost to braking and not having the engine idling when one is just stopped.

Around here most of our buses are hybrids at this point in one form or another.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (1)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623018)

In an electric going downhill you shouldn't be using any fuel of any sort. Most gas engines will still need to burn some fuel to idle the engine if you're coasting. You aren't burning much fuel, but so long as the engine is still running you're burning some.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623128)

In an electric going downhill you shouldn't be using any fuel of any sort. Most gas engines will still need to burn some fuel to idle the engine if you're coasting. You aren't burning much fuel, but so long as the engine is still running you're burning some.

In most modern cars, the ECU will use deceleration fuel cut off (DFCO) to cut off fuel to the engine when it's being driven by the drive wheels.

I never get to see "100MPG+" (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623188)

The writer also doesn't realize that he can get 100MPG+ while going down the hill

I am always disappointed that the real-time display in every car I have seen tops out "99.9". I know it is not meaningful, but it would be fun to see on more digit.

But on a practical note, having one of those computer displays can be motivating, in modifying your driving style, if one cares about mileage.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622850)

In slow, urban areas, these really do excel. The cost is high but the gas savings adds up quickly. As for why anyone who isn't in the city would drive a hybrid, it is a mystery.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (3)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623076)

...Because they are expensive, have an unknown maintenance factor, and gas isn't really that expensive. Buy an older car with a non-terrible MPG rating and even with maintenance costs, you still end up saving over buying a hybrid. Assuming you know how to buy a used car and buy a decent one, it will save you much more money even with gas/maintenance costs than buying a new car.

Re:the article seems a bit muddled (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623124)

Hybrids are probably overhyped, but I thought most educated consumers these days realized that they got the biggest efficiency gains in two types of driving: 1) lower-speed, stop-and-go city traffic, where they can mainly use the electric drivetrain, and sometimes turn off the engine entirely for brief periods; and 2) constant-speed highway travel, where they mainly use the gas engine, but one that can be made smaller due to being able to rely on the electric assist when needed. Yes, if you frequently accelerate at higher speeds, you'll use both the electric and gas engines and not save much. Do people not know this?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: No, people are stupid and don't care to educate themselves.

Listen to the users before bashing (3, Insightful)

ElBeano (570883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622726)

Hybrids have been out for a long time. It appears to me that they are increasing in popularity in spite of the naysayers. Every single person that I know who has a hybrid (maybe a dozen) is pretty happy with the fuel economy. None have complained about having to fork over money for a new battery system yet. One could argue concerning the high manufacturing cost, but I think that that has come down enough relative to selling price to achieve parity with non-hybrid vehicles. The technology continues to evolve and any battery breakthroughs will make them even more attractive.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (5, Interesting)

Skewray (896393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622786)

"None have complained about having to fork over money for a new battery system yet." Just forked over $3K for a new battery pack on a 2002 Prius. Expect no more than 10 years. The wave of battery failures is just starting.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (3, Insightful)

dannyastro (790359) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622972)

I have 107,000 miles on my 2004 Prius and the battery is fine. If it needs a new one after 10 years, well that's great longevity! Prius is one of the most reliable cars according to Consumers Report (and my experience too), so needing to pay $3K after 10 years for the battery is not so bad from an overall cost of operation POV. And since many people don't keep their cars more than 10 years, they won't face the battery issue at all (assuming they bought their car new!).

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623140)

I have 107,000 miles on my 2004 Prius and the battery is fine. If it needs a new one after 10 years, well that's great longevity! Prius is one of the most reliable cars according to Consumers Report (and my experience too), so needing to pay $3K after 10 years for the battery is not so bad from an overall cost of operation POV. And since many people don't keep their cars more than 10 years, they won't face the battery issue at all (assuming they bought their car new!).

But how does that affect your $ fuel savings?

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623138)

$3K in ~10 years. Sounds like a deal to me. Anything else go wrong other than normal wear on tires etc.?

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (2)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622792)

I love our Prius, but the savings on fuel probably won't pay for the added cost of the hybrid powertrain within the car's lifetime.

A plug-in hybrid charged at non-peak rates or on-site solar could be a different story.

Payback of Hybrid Cars (1)

dannyastro (790359) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622892)

A lot of articles talk about the "payback" of hybrid cars and often conclude that "It's not worth it". I don't buy that. I never see articles on the payback of getting leather seats or a bigger engine that improves acceleration. The fact that my Prius emits many tons less of CO2 into the atmosphere than most other cars gives me more satisfaction than do leather seats (which I also have).

Re:Payback of Hybrid Cars (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623002)

In other words you are saying that in order for your hipster car to pick up in society, government needs to raise taxes on gas.

Re:Payback of Hybrid Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623198)

In other words you are saying that in order for your hipster car to pick up in society, government needs to raise taxes on gas.

I think you are about 10 years late calling Prius and hybrids for a hipster car. Surprisingly many here are very quick to jump to strong conclusions based on one lawsuit from one woman. EPA is testing the milage same way for all cars. And as many others have posted here, all the people I know with a Prius are very happy with the fuel economy.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622968)

Residential customers rarely get an electric rate schedule that includes peak and off-peak rates. Utilities residential rate schedules are general flat or tiered for higher usage, but then you get hit with hidden demand charges anyway. Expect to get pushed into that higher ratchet and get charged additional amounts for the next 12 months. Utilities have the game rigged in their favor no matter what they tell you. And they can always hit you with a fuel surcharge on top of it. The PUC is not your friend either.

Plus, you are just increasing electric demand which will result in additional power plants being built. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, you need to understand the entire downstream effect that a plug in hybrid has. You would probably have done just as well for the environment buying a non-hybrid Honda Civic.

Amortization (1)

climb_no_fear (572210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623134)

Here in Europe, gasoline costs twice what it does in the US (which is only one reason why people tend to have smaller cars). I therefore suspect the extra costs may easily be amortized within the lifetime of the batteries, at least here. I used to own a Prius and although I didn't always reach the claimed mileage, the agreement between claimed and actual mileage was, in fact, better than I got with other (non-hybrid) cars.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623182)

My problem was the roughly $5k premium vs a Corolla. If I was planning to keep a car for 10+ years, there may have been a payback, but I was likely looking at 5 years or less. There was no way the Prius was going to pay for itself in that time frame.

Personally I think the Chevy Volt solution, once they got the kinks worked out, is going to be the way to go. On most days I'll never use gas. It's about 20 miles round trip to work and back. But then if I want to drive to visit my Dad on a weekend (about 200 miles one way) I don't have to worry. Fill up and go.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622888)

Exactly!
I can only speak for Prius since its the only hybrid I've owned, but the fuel economy has never been an issue. Battery life is well over 150,000 miles ( by other users notes ) also. Adding in the fact that belts are nearly extinct on the 2011 model engine and it's beautiful. This articles BS.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622978)

Exactly!
I can only speak for Prius since its the only hybrid I've owned, but the fuel economy has never been an issue. Battery life is well over 150,000 miles ( by other users notes ) also. Adding in the fact that belts are nearly extinct on the 2011 model engine and it's beautiful. This articles BS.

The lack of timing a timing belt is a big win and almost makes up for the cost of a battery pack.

On my conventionally powered car, I just had the timing belt (and water pump and a few other associated parts) replaced for $1600 (at 105K miles). The Prius has a timing chain instead of a belt.

My neighbor has 120K miles on his 2002 Prius and the battery is still fine.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623106)

FYI many "conventional" cars have timing chains instead of belts.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623214)

FYI many "conventional" cars have timing chains instead of belts.

That's true, but my point was that a $2000 battery replacement (after 100K miles? 150K miles? 200K miles?) is used a proof that hybrids are not economical, but many people accept a nearly $2000 required maintenance item on non-hybrids without question.

Re:Listen to the users before bashing (1)

honestmonkey (819408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623130)

Chiming in: I have a hybrid Camry, bought used a year or so ago. My previous car was a Honda Civic that got about 30 MPG. I had it for 13 years or so, and it was a good car. However, my Camry is a full-sized, heated leather seats, power windows, whiz-bang kind of car, and it gets 34+ MPG. So, better mileage, much nicer ride and comfort, and I'll probably keep it for the same amount of time as my previous car. Can't talk to the battery issue yet, as the car is only 4-5 years old. I'm happy with it so far.

Hype in Advertising (3, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622738)

in order to sell people on [x], [advertisers] have emphasized the [benefits] of [x] in ideal conditions and failed to tell people that in most ordinary [usage] they will not come close to meeting the [benefits advertised].

Sounds like advertising industry best practices to me.

We bought a Prius six years ago so my wife could use the carpool lanes for an hour-long commute through Los Angeles. We didn't get the EPA's mileage, but it's still double the mileage of our other car.

Re:Hype in Advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622840)

The 1.6L turbo diesel I drove in Europe got 40 mpg split between city and hwy, and a non-trivial portion of the hwy
driving was at 100mph on the autobahn. Hybrids are definitely overhyped.

Re:Hype in Advertising (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622906)

You realize they use Imperial gallons there, right?

They're 20% larger than US gallons.

A Prius is rated at about 75mpg combined on the European rating system in Imperial gallons. Now, you may not get 75mpg, but you can easily 50% better fuel economy than you reported, and on a fuel which contains about 15% less energy (oil) per gallon.

Re:Hype in Advertising (3, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623024)

they use Imperial gallons

WRONG. we use liters.

Re:Hype in Advertising (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622936)

Indeed, and I'd guess that the conservative columnist who wrote this piece would, in other circumstances, be railing about the need for tort reform, as nuisance lawsuits make it hard for our hard-working American businessmen to sell products. I wonder what he'd think of a widespread general strategy of using small-claims-court filings to go after misleading advertising from all types of companies.

Really? (2)

teknx (2547472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622746)

From the article:

And once the batteries are depleted, the car can no longer shut down its gas engine...

That can't end well..

Re:Really? (4, Informative)

tftp (111690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623096)

And once the batteries are depleted, the car can no longer shut down its gas engine...

I live high in the hills, and by the time I'm at home the battery is usually on its last couple of bars. This is normal and it has no ill effects. In fact, the battery still retains about half of its charge at that time.

The author is clearly avoiding the truth here. Any Prius owner knows that his claim has nothing to do with reality.

By the way, the climb uphill is usually at 15 mpg, but the descent is at 100 mpg, and the average efficiency is about 43-45 mpg. If I stay in the valley for a long time (say, a whole day of driving with a meter reset) the efficiency will be about 52 mpg. That's with a 2005 (Gen.2) Prius.

For me, though, one of major selling points of Prius is not just its efficiency but it's CVT. The ride in Prius is the smoothest I every encountered, which is not a surprise because it has no gearbox that would switch anything.

This is stupid and wrong. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622758)

I have owned many hybrids including Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. I have always gotten more than the EPA estimated mileage in all of them. I also don't drive 40 miles an hour on the highway as suggested by the article. However, driving style does matter. My wife will get about 45 miles per gallon in her Prius because she has a lead foot and drives 80 mph and accellerates quickly. I will get 50 or more when I drive like a "normal" person.

My best friend is a toyota mechanic and he says that Prius's are brought in all of the time because they aren't getting the claimed mileage. But he'll go drive them and they are fine.

The real problem lies with the fact that the car constantly TELLS you how much you are getting. This is important because most people driving regular gas cars have no idea what mileage they are getting. Most people never get the EPA mileage in their cars but don't care because the car isn't constantly telling you what you are or are not getting. So it is likely the people suing Honda probably never got good mileage in their previous car either, but never noticed. They just fill up the tank when it is empty and go on with life.

A lot of people also don't realize a car's engine has to reach operating temperature before it will get good mileage, hybrid or not. So people who take short 5 or 10 minute trips don't get very good mileage.

Re:This is stupid and wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622922)

I have to agree. We have a Civic hybrid and a Prius. I have a 48-49 mpg average over 10k miles and the Civic tends to be a little lower. It actually takes practice to keep it up there but it becomes more natural driving this way after a couple of months. Most people are poor drivers especially when it comes to optimizing gas mileage unless they are trained or make an effort to learn.

I call BS! (2)

MarcoPon (689115) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622764)

People just need to learn to drive efficiently, if they want to consume less. You can't expect to just buy a Prius, drive like a mad man and burn like the EPA numbers. But, if you drive with a grain of salt, you CAN even exceed EPA numbers. A lot of hybrid drivers do that. In addition EPA numbers are just the results for a standardized set of tests, with some additional corrective factors. Depending on where you live, how's your commute, etc., you situation may approach more or less that scenario.

With immediate feedback, I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622772)

My Prius displays real-time data (in an admittedly blah interface), so I know the efficiency at all times.

And I'm getting 53-56 MPG at the injector and 50-52 MPG at the pump (lower due to evaporation) on mostly highway commutes.

It simply works.

Re:With immediate feedback, I know (0)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622876)

My Prius displays real-time data (in an admittedly blah interface), so I know the efficiency at all times.

And I'm getting 53-56 MPG at the injector and 50-52 MPG at the pump (lower due to evaporation) on mostly highway commutes.

It simply works.

If you are losing 5% of your gas due to evaporation, you should have your fuel system checked. Modern cars use a sealed system that traps evaporated fuel in a carbon filter and sucks the vapor back through the engine the next time you run the car. Very little fuel should be lost to evaporation.

Re:With immediate feedback, I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623006)

or...you know, it could be that the mpg reading your car is spitting out is based on models, and those models are wrong. Because I know mine does the same. And you know, mythbusters also found this on the whole "which is more efficent, A/C or windows down" and the A/C according to the mpg reading was more efficient, but then when they actually drove the cars, the windows rolled down was more efficient.

Plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622782)

Plus, as everyone knows, hybrids are the leading cause of Smug.

Three kinds of driving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622788)

I would argue that fuel economy ratings do hybrids a disservice by looking only at highway vs. city driving. There is a THIRD kind of driving on rural roads in my part of the country, the ridge and valley areas in the Appalachians. This involves hills, mountains and curves where recovery breaking is at least half as beneficial as it is in city driving.

EPA? (4, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622790)

Since the EPA does the testing and approves the mileage figures, doesn't this shield the manufacturers from liability for inflated numbers? The EPA sets the testing criteria. I know that I never hit the estimated city mileage for my conventional car and never expected to, so I only use the published gas mileage numbers to see relative mileage between cars. I never thought I'd hit that number exactly.

That said, the Prius owners I know are quite happy with their 40mpg+ mileage and are close or even over the published mileage. Granted, it takes a difference in driving style to hit that number (for example, by maximizing regenerative braking), but most people that buy a Prius are willing to help it maximize their mileage.

Re:EPA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622962)

"Since the EPA does the testing and approves the mileage figures, doesn't this shield the manufacturers from liability for inflated numbers?"

And that is exactly what is wrong with government intervention in the marketplace, beyond contract enforcement and truth in advertising. The lying auto manufacturers can simply point to the government and say, "It's there numbers, not ours. We're indemnified." It would be better for consumers if auto manufacturers, or third party testers, published their own numbers. True, this wouldn't server the lowest common denominator of our society as well as government publishing the numbers. But, then again, maybe the lowest common denominator would creep upward because of that.

Re:EPA? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623062)

"Since the EPA does the testing and approves the mileage figures, doesn't this shield the manufacturers from liability for inflated numbers?"

And that is exactly what is wrong with government intervention in the marketplace, beyond contract enforcement and truth in advertising. The lying auto manufacturers can simply point to the government and say, "It's there numbers, not ours. We're indemnified." It would be better for consumers if auto manufacturers, or third party testers, published their own numbers. True, this wouldn't server the lowest common denominator of our society as well as government publishing the numbers. But, then again, maybe the lowest common denominator would creep upward because of that.

And you think that if the manufacturers could set the testing criteria that the numbers would be any more fair? At least with EPA numbers, all manufacturers have to follow the same standards. If the manufacturers did it, they'd all use their own methodology and you wouldn't be able to compare numbers between manufacturers.

If they used a third-party, each manufacturer would use the third party that gave them the best numbers.

Re:EPA? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623166)

EPA doesn't even do actual MPG testing -- they calculate the mileage numbers based on a set of readings taken from the car during other tests.

I can counter his example with my own (5, Informative)

dirk (87083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622826)

I bought a 2011 Prius IV, and it works exactly as advertised. I drive about 15 minutes each way to work, about half highway and half road, and I get about 49 MPG, which is exactly what was advertised. The idea that you have to stay below 50MPH and never accelerate or go up hills is just silly (I live in Cincinnati, OH, which is fairly hilly as well). I have learned to not slam on the gas when I am taking off, but that is because it shows you your efficiency real time, so it's easy to see what you are doing to your mileage when you take of like a race car. Generally, I drive it like any other car, although the information it gives me allows me to drive a little better than I did in the past.

And I'm sorry, but no car will get the advertised gas mileage if you are going up mountains. This has nothing to do with hybrids and everything to do with that fact they don't take into account extreme driving conditions when they calculate mileage. This is actually the first car I have ever owned that gave me the gas mileage it advertised.

Re:I can counter his example with my own (2)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623022)

"I have learned to not slam on the gas when I am taking off"

Let me ask you a question. Do you find sometimes yourself in the situation in traffic, where there are cars behind you and no cars in front of you, or the distance between you and the car in front of you ten times more than the distance between your car and the car behind you

Re:I can counter his example with my own (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623208)

Actually, I don't slam on the gas at stop lights either, and yet I tend to be closer to the car in front of me.

I have noticed, at stop lights, that for some reason people wait until the car in front of them moves a specific distance, and then slam down on the gas.

It works a fuckload better if you simply notice the car in front of you has started moving and immediately start moving forward behind them, slowly ramping up your speed. You should be moving exactly like they are, starting at almost exactly the same time, except you're a couple of miles an hour slower to slowly increase the gap between your cars.

In other words, instead of waiting, and flooring it, go at the same time as them, and because they are flooring it and you are not, you will get the proper gap anyway, save gas, and be the same distance away from them after a few second. (And be closer to them before that point, which means the car behind you will go sooner, reducing traffic in general.)

About half of you are going to assert that is how you drive. Here's a hint: Unless you're doing that consciously, you're not driving like that. Actually watch what happens when you drive.

Re:I can counter his example with my own (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623150)

My wife has a 2008 hybrid camy and regularly gets 44 MPG (it's advertised at 36 MPG). Now I will give you that she drives like a grandma, but the hybrid is not just about road conditions but the way the driver drives. I can't seem to get above 25 MPG in it.

Re:I can counter his example with my own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623184)

And I bet your blinker is still on.

But they are better! (1)

dannyastro (790359) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622832)

While, like all cars, "your mileage may vary" compared to ideal testing conditions, hybrid cars do indeed improve gas mileage compared to similar non-hybrid cars (and you can see this clearly on cars that have both hybrid and non-hybrid versions).

Oh c'mon (1)

Ophbalance (303859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622852)

Look, it's pretty simple. EPA tests (which show on the window sticker) are based on following speed limits, not accelerating like a bat out of hell, NOT using A/C, not letting a car warm up for 15 minutes during the winter, etc.

IF you follow the limits, IF you don't set the A/C to either broil steaks or freeze a turkey, IF you drive defensively and not looking to occupy the next hole in traffic, a Prius can pretty handily return 50-60 MPG tanks in a state like North Carolina. Terrain, temperature, and your own right foot will either make it higher or lower than that.

The same behaviors in something like a

Your Mileage May Vary.... (1)

shoemakc (448730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622866)

If you're really interested in saving money (and not just being fashionable), then you just have to do the math. For example, paying an extra $10,000 for a hybrid option on a 250HP luxury car that gets 30MPG instead of the usual 25MPG is probably never going to pay back.

The author is almost certainly lying (5, Insightful)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622868)

The article author claims, "To get a steady 40 MPG (let alone 50 MPG) out of any hybrid -- and I have driven all of them, extensively -- you must keep your speed under 50 MPH and treat the accelerator as if it were a Fabergé egg."

I happen to own a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid, and the _very first time_ I drove it on the freeway at moderately consistent speeds at 60-65 MPH, I got over 40 mpg. I still do that routinely.

So, either he's lying that he has "driven all of them, extensively", or he's lying about what you need to do to get that mpg rating. Probably the former--it's easy to drive a few in a not-very-MPG-friendly way, get disgusted, and then overgeneralize. Easy, but not terribly forgivable for a journalist.

Re:The author is almost certainly lying (1)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623028)

He's lying. If he wants to see a hybrid that gets 50MPG all he needs to do is ride in my Prius. I have a 2010 Prius with about 29K miles on it. It gets 50+ MPG routinely. I keep it in the ECO setting 95% of the time, and I keep an eye on the real-time mileage display. Other than that I drive it like I've driven every other car I've owned. You're not going to set any speed records in a Prius in the ECO setting and you're not going to be able to cut in front of other cars, but you will get 50MPG with no special effort on the driver's part.

Re:The author is almost certainly lying (1)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623136)

Agreed,

My 2007 Prius for the life of the car is averaging 43 mpg. The 2007 does not have multiple efficiency modes like the newer ones or I would get even better. I track every gallon of fuel I put in the car (since day 1). So, I have 91,000 miles worth of data. I routinely drive 70 Mph (just to keep up with traffic). I drive 30 miles to work and most of that is on the interstate.

On a trip between Virginia Tech and Charlotte, NC I drove in mountainous areas and still easily beat 40 mpg.

You do see interesting trends throughout the year. It gets worse gas mileage in the winter (I think to due the engine running to generate heat for the heater and defroster).

You do need to use the 'low rolling resistance' tires if you want the best gas mileage. I've been happy with what originally came on the car. I got 40K miles out of the first set and 50K out of the second.

I absolutely love my car. Does the Hybrid system pay for itself in gas savings? Maybe not. But there are other things that make it worthwhile. The Prius is a surprisingly roomy car. I'm 6 foot tall and have no problems at all (leg room or head room) in the back seat. To average 43 Mpg with a car with this much room is to me amazing.

I love having the gas engine shut down when you are stopped. When dropping off or picking up kids at school it is really nice to not be burning gas just to keep the A/C running.

My sister's new Prius is getting 50 Mpg. (I'm jealous).

Re:The author is almost certainly lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623224)

I'll second that. We have 2005 and 2008 Priui that constently get over 40 MPG no matter how you drive them. The 2009 consistently gets 50-55 MPG in sumer if you drive it like you want to save gasoline. The most effective gas saving feature of the Prius is not the hybrid system. It's the display that tell you at a glance what kind of gas mileage you are getting over the last 5 minutes. Smart drviers can use that to figure out how to drive the vehicle to maximize your fuel mileage.

FWIW. If are willing to drive it in a completely ridiculous way, which involves cycles of accelerating to 40 MPH and letting it slowly drift back to 15 MPH, you can get 80+ MPG. Interesting only as a curiosity, or possible emergency measure when you know it is going to be that far to the next gas station.

So... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622910)

> I know that Slashdot has a large contingent of hybrid and EV supporters who are well educated on the subject (as well as a large contingent of those who are not so well educated).

So... anyone who agrees with you is a smart, well-educated person, and anyone who disagrees with you is ignorant? Must be nice.

Can Google driverless cars be the solution? (1)

teknx (2547472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622934)

MPG promises are based on unrealistic/impossible human driving conditions. But what about automated driving conditions? Let's say for example that Honda worked with Google to develop a driving pattern that would guarantee a MPG as long as you kept your foot off the accelerator. As long as your not running late and don't need to rush, why not?

A good case for not mixing science and politics (3, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622944)

This is a good case for not mixing science and politics. There are certainly cases where hybrids function better (inner city, garbage trucks, buses etc). These work well because the type of driving for these scenarios is ideal for regenerative braking. This makes for a best case scenario for allowing the hybrid to recover energy and work at it's peak. These cases justify the environmental price of the hybrid because the environmental costs is offset by their use.

When you consider the environmental cost that a hybrid requires (the Prius is well documented on the Internet for what is required for it's battery packs) if your not using a hybrid in the right conditions you are arguably harming the environment. This is because you are exacting an environmental cost that is not repaid through your usage scenario.

My point is most consumers are better off getting a high efficiency gas or diesel engine car (Cruze, Jetta etc). Most consumers do not have a driving scenario that is ideal for a hybrid car. It has been decades since most people lived in core cities instead of suburbs or the country. The bottom line is that different technology is better suited for different drivers. One is not fundamentally better than the other in all cases.

People are letting politics try to dictate science, when science should always be free of politics and allowed to stand on it's own merits.

Re:A good case for not mixing science and politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623088)

A majority of people in the United States live in cities. Don't overgeneralize.

Also, quantify "environmental cost". There's a huge difference between the damage done to the world by metal mining for the battery pack and CO2 emissions; global warming is an existential threat.

mo3 Down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622952)

RESULTEd IN THE [goat.cx]

Confusing article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38622958)

There is no comparison to anything in this article. I drive a gasoline Civic and get usually around 33 mpg. How is this person getting under 30mpg? The only time I have ever seen hybrids consuming more fuel than their gasoline siblings is when they are literally raced. Around a track.

Several posts about mileage (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622964)

Several people posted about what mpg they get with a hybrid, how many of those people have actually measured their mileage by dividing the number of miles they have driven by the number of gallons they have used? Or did they just use the number given by the cars computer? I do not know how the car calculates mpg, but I do know that the numbers given by several on board readouts are not necessarily accurate.

Re:Several posts about mileage (2)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623042)

I did both. The car exaggerates the true mileage by about 3%. Annoying, but small enough to not change any of the overall conclusions. (Sometimes disappointing when it looked like you hit 45 mpg on a tank of gas, but it was really only 43....)

Re:Several posts about mileage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623078)

Some people posted about what mpg they get with a hybrid, how many of those people have actually measured their mileage by divining the number of miles they have driven by the number of gallons they have used? Or did they just use the numbers from the gas pump and the odometer?

I will only accept graduated cylinder fuel cell replacing the gas tank and a measuring device that isn't incorrect if the tire pressure is wrong or the wheel size has been changed. ;-)

Look at electric/gas horsepower (5, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622984)

The problem is all people are asking is, "is it a hybrid?" The question they should be asking is, "How hybrid is it?"

Honda Civic Hybrid '06
Gas engine: 85 hp
Electric motor: 13 hp

Saturn Vue Hybrid '07
Gas engine: 170 hp
Electric motor: 15 hp

Toyota Prius '07
Gas engine: 76 hp
Electric motor: 67 hp

There are plenty of cars that were technically hybrids, but when I bought a hybrid in 2009, the Prius was the *only* one which got a significant amount of power from its electric system. The rest were basically just gasoline engines with a little toy electric motor duct taped to them. The '09 Civic Hybrid I tested was particularly bad: larger gas engine than a Prius, 1/4 as much electric power, so it gets worse mileage, and with so little horsepower you feel like you're putting your life on the line every time you take an on-ramp.

Look beyond the hybrid label, and check out the size of the electric power system. It matters.

I smell bullshit (4, Informative)

KagakuNinja (236659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622990)

We own a 8 year old Prius, we get slightly over 40 MPG, something the author claims is difficult. When the car was newer, we got over 42 MPG.

To get a steady 40 MPG (let alone 50 MPG) out of any hybrid -- and I have driven all of them, extensively -- you must keep your speed under 50 MPH and treat the accelerator as if it were a Fabergé egg.

We drive on freeways like everyone else, routinely driving 70-80 MPH. I'm not a lead-foot accelerator, but I drive like most people. I don't practice any exotic hyper-miling techniques.

There are also hills. Hybrids work best on a perfectly horizontal plane.

We also happen to live at the top of a large, steep hill (Berkeley Hills), which we go up and down every day. And yet we still get 40+ MPG, unpossible! The hybrid engine is great for recapturing some of the potential energy that would otherwise be lost.

Aside from the lawsuit, nothing new to see here (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38622996)

Aside from the fact that someone is suing, there is nothing new here. Mr. Peters' just uses the lawsuit as an opportunity to bring up the standard criticisms of hybrids.

I think that the lawsuit is reaching. Honda was just quoting the EPA figure and YMMV has been the running joke about the EPA fuel economy numbers for years. Still, I am pretty sure that Honda doesn't want a precedent set here and will put up a fight.

Mileage is reported under strict legal guidelines. (1)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623026)

NPR had a story on the woman's lawsuit in small claims court over the mileage she got with her Hybrid Civic. The problem with her complaint is that Honda is required to report mileage numbers achieved by the EPA in their driving tests, driving tests which are actually a little more stringent now than they used to be. Honda is not allowed to report any numbers other than the EPA numbers.

Also avoid the comments on this article. There are a lot of politically motivated folks who don't understand what mileage numbers mean, how reporting those numbers works, and who believe global warming is a myth. These are not people who will get along well with science and factual data. They're more the 'truthy' types.

Mr. Fusion (1)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623038)

I always thought the specs touted on hybrids was a "best case" scanario which exagerates reality. I'm going to hold out for my Mr. Fusion powered vehicle. Maybe Marty McFly will let me borrow his. http://backtothefuture.wikia.com/wiki/Fusion_Industries [wikia.com] :-)

Objectivity (5, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623080)

The Slashdot community is for the most part logically and scientifically oriented. We believe in the scientific method, and an understanding of the universe built on an accumulation of experiments built on logical and testable explanations for empirical data, observable phenomena and so forth. And in many fields of endeavor, there can be general agreement about things. For example, it's accepted almost by consensus that the nearest know star is the Sun, and that the next nearest known stars are the three in the Alpha Centauri system. Aside from a handful of cranks like Gene "Time Cube" Ray, virtually everyone accepts this. If somehow we found a star nearer than the Centauri ones, which was too faint to notice before, or right next to a much brighter star and unnoticed or whatnot, if the measurements were good and clear enough, I'm sure soon again everyone would be in agreement that this new star was the next closest one to the earth. It is far away, affects little here, and there's no reason for people to argue over it.

On the other hand, ExxonMobil is the most profitable company in the country. It made $30 billion in profits last year, off of $354 billion in revenues. It is #2 on the Fortune 500 after Wal-Mart (which had more revenues, but about half the profits in 2011). Chevron and ConocoPhillips are #3 and #4 on the list.

If hybrid cars were effective, that would dent the revenues of these three companies whose revenues were collectively three quarters of a trillion dollars. Does anyone think that this fact might possibly, conceivably hurt the objectivity of an article, released in a very partisan political magazine like the American Spectator?

Honestly, it doesn't even warrant attention, other than debunking. These types of articles belong in actually objective magazines like Consumer Reports or something, which could tell you which hybrids were good or weren't. Just from anecdotal evidence, people I know with hybrids have been telling me they are spending less at the pump. Which is exactly what worries magazines like American Spectator, which work to protect monopoly capitalism over actual economic growth in capitalism. We see these forces at battle all the time - the RIAA and MPAA want to go from a world where friends lent records to one another to one where that is impossible. The oil companies want us stuck on oil reserves until they run out and junky old gas-burning cars - and this also hurts industry, which would be helped by cheaper energy. AT&T and Verizon are more concerned with preserving their monopolies than having a growing wired and wireless network. Karl Marx said capitalism starts out as a progressive force, economically and socially, but eventually tends to get more and more mucked up in defensively protecting trusts and monopoly instead of smashing shibboleths to allow growth and scientific advancement. I'd say there's plenty of evidence around nowadays that he was right about that.

Re:Objectivity (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623190)

The Slashdot community is for the most part logically and scientifically oriented.

You must be new here.

EPA Fuel economy (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623110)

The specs are EPA fuel economy, which is actually a pretty decent system (disclaimer: I hate many things the EPA does, like diesel particulate filters, among other things). The BEST thing about EPA fuel economy ratings is that they're the same test across the board. Miles uphill/downhill/stop and go/air conditioning on/off/windows up/down/highway/slow speeds etc.

No one can expect to always get what the EPA rates a vehicle at.

Hybrids ARE overhyped, though. They are not the end-all cure-all of the fuel problems that the new Prius commercials try to show. We will see, as the cars begin breaking down, how large their actual carbon footprint is. As far as fuel economy, they aren't the best either. VW Jetta TDI's typically enjoy similar mileage as a Prius. A hybrid is a good vehicle used in city driving conditions, especially taxis.

Hybrids aren't great. But they are a good step in the right direction. I still think a hybrid Jetta TDI would be way better than a Prius could ever be, simply because its diesel engine alone is as efficient as the whole Prius power train.

Well duh. (4, Informative)

arcsimm (1084173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623156)

Anyone who's been paying attention should know by now that the vast majority of hybrids on the market are pure marketing/greenwashing hype. They got a big early boost from the first hybrids to market, the original Prius and Insight, but very little since has lived up to the promise of those first two. If you look closely at those two cars, you'll quickly realize why -- they were designed from the ground up for fuel efficiency, and their hybrid motors were only a part of that strategy. The original Insight, for example, has a body made entirely from aluminum, with a minimized frontal area and vanishingly low coefficient of drag. In spite of its heavy battery pack, the Insight managed to be lighter than any other US-market car at the time. Its engine was a purpose-built, low-displacement 3-cylinder engine made with as much aluminum, magnesium and plastic as the designers could get away with. The electric motor was integrated into the flywheel, minimizing the extra weight of the hybrid system by allowing it to perform two functions simultaneously. The hybrid system helps, but the vast majority of the first-gen Insight's fuel efficiency comes from these things. Tuners have pulled the whole drivetrain out and replaced it with a 200-horsepower Civic Si engine, and still managed almost 50 miles per gallon out of the chassis!

From the above, it's pretty clear that hybrid drivetrains are just a piece of the fuel-efficiency puzzle -- yet ever since those first two cars hit the market, manufacturers have been tacking electric motors to otherwise ordinary cars and selling them to gullible consumers as the saviors of Earth. The electric motors are a little more efficient at low speeds, but everywhere else they're just additional dead weight that the gas engine has to drag around. Is it any surprise that these half-baked hybrids don't perform as advertised?

Hybrids and the Green Revolution (1)

qualityassurancedept (2469696) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623162)

Basically, our manufacturing and technological world has become a moribund treadmill of innovation driven by consumer whimsy. In an effort to reinvigorate the stale metaphors of capitalism, environmentalism is being advanced as the reason why we might once again buy some new things: new cars, new light bulbs, new energy efficient gizmos in general. If only we could all become convinced that we really do need to buy some new things for this absolutely essential reason, the whole ponzi scheme of capitalism would be able to slouch along for another 20 or 30 years... but THEN WHAT? Colonize Mars and start the whole thing over again.

Complete BS (2)

mcmoyer (219649) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623164)

As someone who regularly gets 55+ mpg on his Prius, I say this case is utter BS. I drive 100 miles round trip to work each day, mostly highway between Fort Worth and North Dallas. People in Dallas will not let you go 50 mph on the highway. My speed varies between 60 ~ 70 mph depending on traffic conditions. Sure, I get a little less mileage at 70, but so does everyone else on that road. And it's not like it requires some kind of advanced certification to get that mileage. I traded my 3/4 Chevy Duramax w/300+ hp and 500+ lbs of torque in on the Prius. My first tank, I got 52mpg.

Next thing you know, people will sue Remington since their gun won't hit the target, Fender since their guitar doesn't sound like David Gilmour, and Louisville Slugger because their bat doesn't hit home runs.

How lame is this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38623176)

Hybrids undoubtedly save fuel when driving in the city or when in traffic jams. If most of a commute is on the highway or freeway the savings will be minimal.

What really needs to happen is that engines need to be optimized to run at a single RPM to drive a generator and cars should run on electric motors alone without power assist from the gasoline engine. Car makers don't do that because people in the states have a "first off the line" attitude that pure electric drive just can't satisfy. We need to transition to some form of multi-fuel rotational engine like a rotary, a turbine or "quirbine", essentially anything that does not waste energy starting and stopping all the time like a 4 stroke. Please, do not tell me your four stroke does not start and stop. It does. In fact four stroke engines stop 4 times and start 4 times every stroke and that wastes tremendous amounts of energy. That is why they call them 4 stroke engines.

like most hybrids in nature. (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623200)

it's normally the combination it's self that makes them ill suited on both sides, but the advantage of just having another option far outweighs how poor they can compete in it compared to a more specialist organism. This though is not the case with hybrid cars, while the volt is as far as the information i have a slightly better design compared to the Prius and and other's. gas motor connected to a generator which powers both the electric motor's and charges the batteries rather then a gas & electric motor side by side connected by planetary gears & chains to transfer/switch power(Prius and Honda hybrids..). both fail as the article states due to the laws of thermodynamics. to save fuel rather then make the car bigger and heavier by adding another motor and heavy batteries, they should make the car smaller and lighter. the real world mpg numbers of the much maligned smart fortwo match and exceed these real world numbers of the hybrids. replace the poor gas engine in it with a better diesel one and you can get close if not exceed the 'hyped' hybrid numbers. how is this possible?

1. few area's of the country need speeds in excess of 70-75 mph to keep with the flow of traffic and all semi's stay about 65 due to them being gps monitored and the driver's penalized pay wise for speeding. So having a car with a large engine that can go 140 or 150 is not only not needed but a waste, because of that a smaller engine will do the job just fine and will give you higher mpg.

2. make the car as light as possible by;

A. doing away with excess bodywork. taking the smart car and similar smaller cars for example, there is no need to hide the safety frame with another layer of steel or plastic, integrate it into the external design and look of the car.

B. take a page from the smart car and do away with the mostly metal exterior all together. Preferably in the easily replaceable panel system similar to what they have. not only will this make the car lighter but it will save YOU a ton of money. large dents in a normal car can cost up to and over 1200+ dollars to fix. it will take about 1500 dollars to replace all the panels on a smart car. a single panel is less then half the repair cost in the best case of a normal car. not to mention they resist hail damage and minor fender benders far better.

C. Do away with un-used internal space, not every car sold HAS to be able to haul 5 to 7 people. If a person needs a car that has to haul that amount they will get one, those that don't should not be forced to use cars that can. it's a waste and if such waste was eliminated the average fuel economy will easily reach the new car standards if not exceed them.

EPA mileage numbers are not from the manufacturer (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38623204)

Has nearly everyone forgotten that the only mileage car makers are allowed to advertise are the EPA numbers? It is illegal for car companies to advertise their own mileage data even if they know the EPA value is wrong. You are free to consult independent testers like Consumer Reports or Road & Track etc. to get other info, but the manufacturers themselves can't say, "The EPA mileage is X, but we know you REALLY get Y (wink,wink)."
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