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Hybrid Cars Don't Live Up to Mileage Claims

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the my-wagon-slurps-gas dept.

Technology 1528

Omega1045 writes "Wired News is running a great little article about how hybrid cars (specifically Honda and Toyota models) do not come anywhere close to living up to their fuel efficiency claims. The article highlights that the EPA tests are more to blame than the car manufactures. Consumer reports has shown that the mileage for these cars can be as low as 60% of the claims. The article also links to a blog authored by hybrid enthusiast Pete Blackshaw detailing his failures getting any real answers on why his Honda Civic Hybrid isn't getting better fuel mileage. It looks like these cars are more hype than help in the battle against pollution and foreign fuel reliance."

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Better than nothing (5, Insightful)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127070)

It looks like these cars are more hype than help in the battle against pollution and foreign fuel reliance.
While the references indicate that the actual mileage is lower than what is claimed, the vehicles do get better gas mileage than standard automobiles. From a conservation standpoint, that's still a good thing. From a Truth In Advertising (ha!) standpoint, it certainly stinks.

Personally, I'm interested in hybrids but not for fuel efficiency reasons. I'd like to see auto makers combine the output from different energy sources into all-wheel acceleration of a normal car. I remember seeing something on the news a few years ago about Ford experimenting with that on an Explorer, trying to jazz up the acceleration of a bigger vehicle. I don't know what became of that testing, if anything. But it would be extremely cool to see that technology in a small, sporty car.

Re:Better than nothing (5, Insightful)

laupark (668153) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127204)

Also, add the environmental cost of gigantic batteries that these things will discard every five years (or has that been addressed?)- really, I don't know if it has, but I always wonder about the environmental impact of the battery production and destruction.

Re:Better than nothing (5, Informative)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127217)

31.5 isn't better than what one of the guys at work gets in his escort. And if they aren't more efficient then they are wasted.

A message I posted to a friend a while back... (5, Informative)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127234)

The Honda Civic Hybrid is an example of a hybrid is set up with the following:

  • A smaller than normally practical internal combustion engine
  • A continuously variable transmission to drive the wheels forward
  • Improved aerodynamics
  • An Aluminum chasis
  • Electric motors on each of the wheels to generate power while braking and to assist the IC drivetrain

Energy is lost in the conversion from gas to electricity, it's also lost in the storage in the batteries and the usage from the batteries to the wheels. You konw and I know that while normally this would all be lost in the braking, now it is stored and used to assist with acceleration.

The odd part is that while driving where you aren't using the brakes a lot, the transmission, weight improvements and aerodynamics will be the only improvements in your efficiency. The electrical assist means that your engine can be improbably weak, but I don't know if that necessarily translates to a more efficient engine.

Here's something which nicely describes why I'm skeptical about the true performance of hybrids:

1992 Civic line:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/1992_Honda_ Civic.shtml [fueleconomy.gov]

2004 Civic line (including hybrids)
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymodel/2004_Honda_ Civic.shtml [fueleconomy.gov]

I'm not sure why, but it looks like my 1992 1.5L Civic Hatchback is(was) more fuel efficient (city and highway) than the modern 2004 Civic Hybrid. I don't think U.S. government numbers are right, but they're close enough to try to make some kind of a point :-)

As an aside, I was looking into the hybrid transmissions and from what I could tell... I was wrong, the Honda Insight was manual-only, but the newer hybrids sometimes sell with the choice of an automatic or continuously variable transmission... oddly, the fancy transmission hurts highway fuel efficiency, but it helps in the city.

Note that comparing an aluminum hybrid to a galvanized steel compact, e.g. the Insight to a "regular" car, would not be an apples-to-apples comparison since if you were to remove all the weight from the electrical system (adding hydraulic brakes) and increase the engine size to match the lost horsepower, the new gas car would be more efficient than other gas cars on the road today, and might even be better on the highway than the hybrid. (Although it really should fail to beat the hybrid in the city)

A 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid to a 2004 Honda Civic would be a more reasonable comparison than my 1992 to a 2004... the 2004's have bigger engines and are less fuel efficient. I'd also expect the 2004 hybrid to have more horsepower than my 1992 car... so I'll admit, it's not a fair comparison...

But there may be less expensive, more fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicles on the market.

(In reality, I get about 37MPG on the highway, ~30 in the city... the car _is_ 13 years old)

Re:A message I posted to a friend a while back... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127319)

A 2004 Civic is like twice the size of the 1992 car, so I'm not really sure what you're trying to say.

Re:Better than nothing (3, Informative)

SandMouse (687602) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127241)

What needs to be understood is that hybrid cars offer better gas milage only depending on certain conditions. If you are driving without much acceleration/decceleration, then you basically do not get the advantage of hybrid technology. For city drivers, you get the recharge while braking and it makes for very efficient energy consumption. Just my 3 cents.

Re:Better than nothing (4, Insightful)

Merlin42 (148225) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127243)

From a Truth In Advertising (ha!) standpoint, it certainly stinks.

But the key line in the article is that federal law prohibits using anything other than the EPA estmates for advertising fuel efficiancy. So while it may stink, the 'guberment' is more to blame than Honda.

NOTE: IANACG (i am not a car guy)

The article suggests that the tests are not necisarily accurate b/c they use emisions to estimate the amount of fuel used. And that the tests were designed to be simple to replicate.

Why wouldn't it be simpler to just fill the tank, run the car, and then see how much fuel it takes to refill the tank?!? Is there some reason this wouldn't be a reliable test?

Re:Better than nothing (5, Insightful)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127316)

It would be, but I think the EPA cares more about emissions than fuel economy. You could say the economy figures are a (theoretically at least) useful byproduct of the emissions testing they already have to do.

D

Re:Better than nothing (2, Informative)

CavyDriver (702395) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127250)

While the references indicate that the actual mileage is lower than what is claimed, the vehicles do get better gas mileage than standard automobiles. From a conservation standpoint, that's still a good thing. From a Truth In Advertising (ha!) standpoint, it certainly stinks.

Not really, a normal civic get about 30-35 mpg anyway. The hybrid doesn't seem to be buying more than 1-2 MPG. Hardly signifigant.

Re:Better than nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127266)

I went to Ford Anniversary last year and they were displaying the various alternate fuel and hybrid Explorer. They were created by a bunch of universities across North America. The hybrid ones were really neat because the electric motor gave acceleration assist. The end result was a 5-10 mpg savings and a few extra horsepower.

Re:Better than nothing (4, Interesting)

Dausha (546002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127269)

. . . the vehicles do get better gas mileage than standard automobiles. From a conservation standpoint, that's still a good thing.

As I recall, the Honda Insight is supposed to get as much as 60 MPG. Sixty percent (from the root parent) of that is 36 MPG. I used to get 30-35 MPG from my old Ford Escore (stick) and up to 33 MPG in my old Saturn L-200. (I also got up to 50 MPG from my '69 Beetle, but that was because on the highway I would cut the engine off on long, steep hills. That is another story.) And, I believe that diesels can produce up into the 40 MPG range (e.g. VW Passat). So, the "better gas mileage" is, to me, "slightly better gae mileage."

However, what of the batteries? I've been told that they may cost over $1000 to replace when they go bad, and that the replacement rate is somewhere in the ball park of one in five or so years. Additionally, I've been told that the batteries themselves are quite toxic. So, methinks from a conservation standpoint they are not markedly superior to full ICEs.

That said, my brother had an Insight and tightly tracked his fuel economy. He was fanatic about trying to squeeze very amp he could. He found his economy to be in the 60 MPG range. Most of his driving was highway (60+ miles each way to work) in a low-traffic area (Arkansas). So, YMMV. Having zipped around town in them, I was quite pleased with their pep.

Re:Better than nothing (3, Informative)

nate1138 (325593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127282)

From a Truth In Advertising (ha!) standpoint, it certainly stinks.

Yes, it does, but don't make the mistake of blaming the companies or the advertisers for this. Federal regulations prohibit using any number other than the one calculated by the EPA test in advertising a car's mileage. This test was devised almost 20 years ago, and doesn't actually measure fuel consumption. It measures the emissions, and uses that data to calculate efficiency, and thus, mileage. Obviously a hybrid (with very low emissions) is going to skew the test.

Re:Better than nothing (1)

LittleDan (669174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127286)

My dad bought a Honda Civic Hybrid, and even though it only gets 40 mi/g, it's still very efficient and can usually run about 500 miles on a tank, more than any other car my family has had. I don't see what the big fuss is; the EPA consistently overestimates all cars and hybrids are no exception.

Daniel Ehrenberg

Re:Better than nothing (1)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127294)

I remember seeing something on the news a few years ago about Ford experimenting with that on an Explorer, trying to jazz up the acceleration of a bigger vehicle. I don't know what became of that testing, if anything.

I saw that too. It wasn't Ford doing the actual work. They were sponsoring a competition to find alternate acceleration aids. If I remember correctly, the winner was an inflatable balloon under the driver's seat. It inflated as you drove. When you stopped and then started up again, the inflation somehow helped the acceleration. It was very weird though because the engine didn't rev as you stepped on the gas. That would take a while to get used to - sort of like going from a bicycle to a motorcycle. You have to get used to the bike moving without pedaling.

Re:Better than nothing (0, Flamebait)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127296)

About a year ago I read some figures (in an EU auto magazine) for a hybrid golf prototype developed by a private firm. They split the figures so you could work out what you would expect to get on your itinarys.

Upshot was that my daily trip to work consumed more than I would expect from a MPI diesel utility, which would also have more performance.

I think the best way to make a quantumn leap in world ecology is to simply get rid of the Americans.

Re:Better than nothing (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127312)

I'd like to see auto makers combine the output from different energy sources into all-wheel acceleration of a normal car. I remember seeing something on the news a few years ago about Ford experimenting with that on an Explorer, trying to jazz up the acceleration of a bigger vehicle.

Here's a link you might like. [cornell.edu]

Re:Better than nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127325)

Actually my 1998 Honda Civic HX gets 31-32 MPG. It used to get 35-36 but 50,000 miles has some wear and tear on your efficiency. If hybrids are actually coming in at the mileage is being reported, well, that sucks.

Re:Better than nothing (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127338)

I believe the Honda DualNote concept car does that, actually. Except it's only a concept car. =(

Neither do regular cars (3, Insightful)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127082)

It has to do with the way the milage per gallon is calculated. It's not the same as really driving.

Re:Neither do regular cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127183)

This post was not really informative to people who read the article since it is clearly stated there several times. Good job on getting modded up by the early mods who don't bother to read either.

Re:Neither do regular cars (4, Interesting)

flaming-opus (8186) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127187)

Absolutely correct. If you accelerate very slowly, keep that engine running at low RPMs, only drive on flat surfaces, coast whenever possible, then you might approach the published numbers. My car is rated 24/28 or something. Realistically I average about 23-24 with mostly highway driving. I think most consumers are aware of the extreem optimism of those numbers on any type of vehicle.

Re:Neither do regular cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127304)

The best way to look at the EPA ratings is to look at the "City" rating and expect that to be your overall fuel economy.

Re:Neither do regular cars (1)

XMyth (266414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127202)

However, as the article states, regular cars get approx. 75% of their rating...hybrids are getting less than 60%.

It should also be noted that the differences between realized mileage and rated mileage was most noteable in city driving. Highway driving was much closer to the actual rating.

Re:Neither do regular cars (1)

kaszeta (322161) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127256)

It has to do with the way the milage per gallon is calculated. It's not the same as really driving.

While I admit that the EPA tests aren't perfect, for regular cars are they that bad? I've found them to be within a few MPG of reality for a car in good working order. For example, my 2002 Subaru Outback Sport was listed as 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and it averages 26.2 mpg (seeing that my driving is >90% freeway, that's reasonable).

Going back to the article, if he's getting only 31.2 mpg, and if Civic Hybrid owners in general are only getting 26 mpg, that seems to be a mediocre improvement over gas powered vehicles of a similar weight/size.

Re:Neither do regular cars (1)

swordboy (472941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127273)

Exactly...

Which is why the mileage measurement needs to be dropped in favor of a "fuel efficiency" number. They could use the same freakin' test but just put the car on a scale of 0 to 100 instead (make a 100 rating something absurdly hard to get to... like an equivalent 500mpg). Everybody drives differently and I have found that it takes a very light foot to coax rated numbers out of any car.

I'm waiting for the day when someone figures out the hydrogen storage problem. If we could get enough pure hydrogen (by weight) stored into a small enough volume, then we could simply change the car's battery "every 3000 miles" like we change oil now. 'Tis only a matter of time. I hope that I live to see it (hydrogen production arguments aside).

Re:Neither do regular cars (1)

drmike0099 (625308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127289)

Exactly. I've been disappointed with my Volvo, which was rated at something like 28/32 when I bought it. Since I drive 5 miles to and from work most of the time (with shorter hops around town) through metro LA, I can't break 20-21 mpg. Add to that the fact that I spent $30 today filling up my 12-gallon tank, and I'm a little bit annoyed by all this.

However, the point that wasn't emphasized in all that is that this is still significantly better than a non-hybrid vehicle. My Civic that I owned before this didn't break 24 mpg, and was rated in the low 30's. A hybrid version that got 32 would be a significant step up from there (33% less gas) and so is a good thing. It's not 50, but it's better.

The problem with that, of course, is that these cars cost more than the non-hybrid version, somewhere around $2,000 more. The websites for the car manufacturers have calculators to show how much money you would save by getting the hybrid based on the EPA statements. If those are wrong (as they are) then they should not be pushing the cost savings, since they know people aren't going to see it.

Re:Neither do regular cars (1)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127291)

As the article said, they need to come up with a new testing scheme for hybrids and non-hybrids. What kind of sense does it make to only measure the exhaust gases coming out of the car. If that is such an important measurement, then would it be so hard to measure the amount of gasoline that is actually being consumed? I do it at the gas station every time I fill up (granted there could be minor discrepancies between pumps). Start will a full tank. Run the test. Fill the tank. Amount of fuel added = amount of fuel consumed!

Re:Neither do regular cars (1)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127343)

Actually, I do get higher than my epa rated milage -- my car is rated at 30 mpg, I usually get 32 mpg if I keep the speed reasonable. That's 1mpg less than the best MO MILES ever saw. My car (bmw 330i) is a 3-liter 3100 pound sedan, so it's no econobox, but it's ULEV and I'm very happy with it.

no way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127086)

fp?

Crazy (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127089)

That's crazy.

Duh (1, Informative)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127091)

You can't create more energy from less fuel. You can do it more efficiently, but this going to the electric motor and back isn't that efficient.

Re:Duh (1)

JesseL (107722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127168)

The idea is that by having the gasoline engine coupled to a generator the engine can be made more efficient because it can be tuned for a particular speed and load. Conventional drivetrains require that the engine operate over a wide range of speeds and loads and thus the tuning is always compromised to achieve driveability throughout the range.

Re:Duh (2, Informative)

CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127190)

One of the claims that I have heard is that hybrids can take advantage of some of the energy lost by breaking. Instead of using only mechanical resistance (friction -> heat), they also use some magnetic resistance (EMF -> voltage) which can be used to recharge the batteries. That is where the "extra" energy is coming from. It is being more efficient, by not wasting as much energy (think recycling).

So are these techniques actually a part of the hybrid cars out there now?

ummm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127201)

I think you just contradicted yourself there buddy. If you are more efficient, it requires less fuel to produce the same amount of power, a function of time and energy. Less fuel can produce just as much or even MORE energy with better efficacy.

Re:Duh (1)

jman sr (125377) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127210)

Not to mention recovering energy through regenerative breaking that is normally lost as heat in a conventional braking system.

Re:Duh (1)

feloneous cat (564318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127242)

You can't create more energy from less fuel. You can do it more efficiently, but this going to the electric motor and back isn't that efficient.

Depends on what you call efficient. Standard automobiles are anything but efficient - they are what the industry knows and feels comfortable with.

One design that I have heard about (but is never talked about) is the electric/gasoline hybrid. Sounds the same but isn't. This uses a gasoline motor running at a constant speed to provide the juice. All the energy is then sent to four electric motors. Said to be FAR more fuel efficient.

Re:Duh (3, Insightful)

Plutor (2994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127326)

This isn't informative, it's a half-truth. So what if you can't create more energy? A huge amount of the energy that burning gas (exploding gas fumes, really) liberates is wasted in heat out the engine, heat out the gas pipe, and heat due to friction on the brake pads. Offhandedly dismissing the impact that reclaiming some of that wasted energy can have is ignorant. It's like looking at a river and thinking "Well, we can't make this water create any additional power". Build a dam and create a manmade lake, and you can generate billions of kilowatt hours per year.

Re:Duh (1)

LittleDan (669174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127344)

Nobody's saying more energy is being created; it was always that it's more efficient. Normal cars loose more energy to heat, but hybrid cars can recollect some energy that would otherwise be lost and use it for motion. This has nothing to do with breaking conservation of energy; it's all about fuel efficiency. Daniel Ehrenberg

My Civic Hybrid (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127105)

Gets 45-55 MPG. If you drive them like a race car of course the MPG is going to be a lot less

Re:My Civic Hybrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127232)

Bullshit. That is even higher than the rating on the cars. In your dreams are you getting 55 MPG. I am willing to be that you don't even have a Civic and you are just a troll. Post a link to a picture of your car's MPG current estimate and I will apologize.

Re:My Civic Hybrid (4, Interesting)

Uma Thurman (623807) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127238)

I had a Geo Metro with the 1.0L engine that got 55 MPG regularly. The car was a bit small, but it'd go 80 MPH on the highway.

And VW makes some diesels that get really great mileage, better than hybrid.

Hybrids also have the disadvantage of requiring heavy batteries that contain some nasty stuff. The environmental net might not be positive.

Nevertheless, the technology is still new, and I wonder how far it can be pushed.

Get an SUV (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127123)

Does this mean I should get an SUV or does this mean that all "mileage numbers" are a fantasy...

Ah, all mileage numbers are a fantasy, and CU is a better evaluator than EPA.

Re:Get an SUV (0, Flamebait)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127154)

Does this mean I should get an SUV

Ofcourse! Because if a hybrid is only doing better than a normal car instead of much better you should get the most polluting car you can get.

Jeroen

Re:Get an SUV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127267)


Does this mean I should get an SUV

If you feel you need a penis extension, by all means do. Of course the risk of rollover and death is much higher in an SUV. The "feel" of being safer had repeatedly been shown to be just that: a feeling. Read more here [cbsnews.com]

I thought so (1)

Plaeroma (778381) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127124)

My ex-girlfriend has a Civic Hybrid. On long trips that required two cars, I would notice her car wasn't doing *that* much better than the others. At first I dismissed it as different fuel tank sizes, but she seemed to be putting almost as much in as the rest of us. Sure, it of course did pretty well, but I was having a hard time swalloing 45+ mpg. Shame on the EPA.

Re:I thought so (1)

Libor Vanek (248963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127223)

IIRC hybrid cars should have better MPG effeciency in cities/jams with lot stop'n'jump driving (?) style.

Re:I thought so (1)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127255)

Well, right. The idea behind the hybrids was that it charges the battery when you break. Over long car trips, you're not breaking, so you're not actually getting much benefit from the hybrid-ness of the car. Also why the city rating for MPG is so much higher in a hybrid, verses it being lower than highway in a normal car..

...so are non-hybrid cars also overrated? (5, Interesting)

Harmotech (664060) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127131)

I didn't see this answered in the article, but are other gasoline-only autos also overrated?

I mean, if the same EPA testing standardis used on all cars, and the hybrids are overrated...

That said, I have an '88 Volvo that I watch the mileage of pretty closely, and I get b/w 25 and 30 mpg. And it's a big heavy bastard...

hmmmmm....

Re:...so are non-hybrid cars also overrated? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127285)

I didn't see this answered in the article

Don't lie. You didn't read the article. Most of it is about that very fact. You couldn't have gotten past the first two paragraphs.

Re:...so are non-hybrid cars also overrated? (1)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127302)


I didn't see this answered in the article, but are other gasoline-only autos also overrated?


Yes. Of all of the vehicles I have owned, I have never driven one where the EPA estimate was right on. It's always off by between 1 and 3 mpg in both city and highway driving. When I shop for vehicles, I always detract a few mpg from the sticker as I know the vehicle won't actually get what it says it does.

The EPA tests are a joke and really need to be updated.

Re:...so are non-hybrid cars also overrated? (1)

introverted (675306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127339)

are other gasoline-only autos also overrated?

I didn't see it mentioned in the article (that would have made it less sensational), but I suspect the answer is a big yes.

I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid and my experience has been that, if you alternate between stamping on the gas and stamping on the brakes, then your mileage will drop to around 30. Of course, do that in a conventional engine car and your mileage will also drop drastically.

Driving conservatively (i.e. The way you're taught to drive), I routinely get 46 MPG in heavy local traffic and 50+ on the open highway.

As with any other type of car, your particular driving style has a tremendous impact on your gas mileage.

This is poppycock. (1)

Power Everywhere (778645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127135)

If you calculate mileage on a regular combustion-engine car the same thing happens. The petroleum industry has grown quite irksome of late.

Biodiesel baby (5, Informative)

wherley (42799) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127138)

An interesting alternative fuel is biodiesel [biodiesel.org] :

- We can make it in the US

- Runs in existing diesel engines

- Almost all emissions reduced vs. dinodiesel

(for NOx there are some interesting additives
being produced).

- Much less toxic/dangerous than dinodiesel/gasoline

- Exhaust smells like french fries!

Re:Biodiesel baby (5, Funny)

Woogiemonger (628172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127199)

Exhaust smells like french fries!

If there's anything that's gonna sell Americans on biodiesel, it's gonna be the smell of fast food.

Re:Biodiesel baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127247)

- We can make it in the US - Runs in existing diesel engines - Almost all emissions reduced vs. dinodiesel (for NOx there are some interesting additives being produced). - Much less toxic/dangerous than dinodiesel/gasoline - Exhaust smells like french fries!

- And particulate emissions are slightly higher...

Re:Biodiesel baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127311)

You commented:

An interesting alternative fuel is biodiesel:
- We can make it in the US


Yes, we can, but do you realize that for it to scale, the amount of crop growing would require a massive amount of fertilizer, and that the biggest source of nitrogen fertilizers is... You guessed it, hydrocarbons from the exact same source as the hydrocarbons in your gasoline and diesel fuel.

Yes, it sure sounds nice, but only if we can figure out how to scale organic growing techniques to the levels required so artificial nitrogen fertilizers wouldn't be required.

Re:Biodiesel baby (3, Insightful)

donweel (304991) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127336)

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Baby
We can make it here
You can drink the exhaust (h20)
You can tell OPEC to rotate.

Why I Didn't Buy a Hybrid Car (3, Informative)

sgarrity (262297) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127142)

I can speak to the accuracy of hybrid fuel economy numbers, but I did do a bit of research and ended up buying a small gas-only car instead. I found the fuel economy of the hybrids wasn't so much better that it warranted the significant price increase.

I wrote more about the issue on my weblog: Why I didn't buy a hybrid car [actsofvolition.com] .

Re:Why I Didn't Buy a Hybrid Car (5, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127233)

In reality the best price/pollution ratio today is a small turbodiesel. The best example is the Volkswagon Jetta TDI, the Jetta gets real world numbers within 20% of the hybrid's claims (probably higher than the real world performance of the Civic Hybrid for example). Modern turbo diesel engines have eliminated most of the historic problems of diesel engines (soot mostly) but they still have problems with NOX emissions.

I always got ~55mpg with my Honda Insight 2001 (5, Informative)

AdrianZ (29135) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127145)

I never got below 50MPG, ever, and that was living in the thin air of Flagstaff, AZ, at over a mile in elevation. I got closer to 60MPG in the lower and warmer Phoenix, AZ.

Re:I always got ~55mpg with my Honda Insight 2001 (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127179)

Past tense? What happened to the car?

Re:I always got ~55mpg with my Honda Insight 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127180)

I drove from Kansas City, MO to Minneapolis in a Honda Civic Hybrid on 1 tank of gas and I still had 1/3 of a tank left when I got there. The tank is 12 Gal

Re:I always got ~55mpg with my Honda Insight 2001 (1)

bmongar (230600) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127219)

i have a freind with an 02 insight. He gets near 60 lifetime(mix of city and highway every day) on his car. I think the the problem a lot of people are having is their driving style. They want to take off fast and speed to the next light. Agressive driving kills your mileage.

*Foreign* Fuel reliance? (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127148)

...try *fossil* fuel reliance. No matter where it comes from, we can't run the world on it forever.

Re:*Foreign* Fuel reliance? (1)

maxbang (598632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127329)

Tell me about it. Not only is the world supply of trilobites depleting at a tremendous rate, but it costs a pretty penny to remove the little stone bastards from your fuel filter.

Consumer reports (-1, Offtopic)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127153)

Consumer Reports is worse than NY Times, Subscription required AND its not free. BAH

Re:Consumer reports (1)

triskaidekaphile (252815) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127300)

CR accepts no advertising to avoid any possible or perception of bias. Since you seem to dislike their subscription rates, how would you suggest they cover their costs?

Stupid Hippies (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127160)

And all the stupid hippies wasted their money trying to save the planet HAHAHA

These hybrids (5, Interesting)

LOL WTF OMG!!!!!!!!! (768357) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127161)

Have quite a bit less power than their gas-only counterparts (like the hybrid Civic). I've seen people trying to drive these things like they're race cars, and that certainly isn't going to help.

MPG estimates are easy to reach when drive like a responsible person, and according to the cars manual. This is often a bit slower than you are comfortable with, hence the problem. It just happens to be that the rift between gas waste with the two driving styles is quite larger with the hybrid engine.

Drive nicely, you're mileage will be a lot better.

What About Emissions? (3, Insightful)

Levendis47 (90899) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127164)

I get 32MPG out of my 1.8T Jetta (5-speed stick) on the highway. But I've read all over the place that the zippy little turbo belches all kinds of nasties when fully engaged.

What I'd be more interested in is the air and environment impact of charging batteries vs. providing high torgue. Not to mention what one does with batteries that can no longer hold a charge. Land fills?

Let's not look at just the MPG's on this. Let's look at the over-all impact of the vehicle throughout it's lifespan. Even if it doesn't immediately effect your bottom-line... it could effect your quality of life in 25 years.

cheers,
Levendis47

Good (2, Insightful)

avalys (221114) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127167)

I'm glad. Maybe this will discourage more companies from jumping on the hybrid bandwagon, and spend their research money on hydrogen-powered cars instead.

Hybrids are only delaying the inevitable, and (according to this article) not by as much as we thought.

I love stories... (4, Funny)

T3kno (51315) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127192)

That bring a smile to my face first thing in the morning. I can't wait for my "HYBRID1" plates to arrive for my 63 Pontiac with a 400 and dual Edelbrock carbs :)

As they say in the ads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127212)

"Your mileage may vary"

Car & Driver's tests averaged 42 MPG for the Prius and 48 MPG for the Insight, combined city and highway driving with a veried range of drivers. Since that's an average, some probably got over 50, while the leadfoots got less than 40.

It's all in the driver, baby.

oil companies (1)

maxbang (598632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127218)

They've got their grubby little paws all over this! Where the hell is my tin foil hat? Ah, yes, I made a bong out of it.

just for reference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127224)

Just for reference, I have a non-hybrid Civic EX coupe (130hp, one of faster, but not the fastest model), 1999. Similarly to the guy they are profiling, I also lived in Cincinnati until recently and drove my car there in (nasty) suburban traffic for five years.

In that time, I consistently averaged 27-28mpg when doing 100% city driving on a tank of gas, 30-32mpg when doing mixed city and highway, and typically get 35-40mpg when doing mostly highway.

However, under ideal conditions (no air conditioning, windows up, but sunroof tilted, going between 55 and 70 mph), I have often gotten 48-53mpg on long trips. This was not an artifact of tank filling - I have gotten this many times. So while the Civic hybrid may not be a great deal, regular Civics are almost as good as hybrids (maybe just as good according to some of hte numbers in this article) and definately beat many other vehicles.

Volkswagen Golf TDI (3, Insightful)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127225)

I am laughing, cause my TDI (Diesel) actually gets 40-50mpg, is thousands less then a hybrid and diesel is now way cheaper then gasoline.

Yes, this is very true. (1)

jshindl (157371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127236)

I have a Hybrid (Toyota Prius, 2004) & this is very true. I get 45mpg, when EPA says I should get 52/60. Still great gas mileage, though

Not what I wanted to see this morning... (1)

datastalker (775227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127246)

...as I am seriously considering buying an Insight. With gas having gone up 5 cents overnight! [thejournalnews.com] , I'm looking for an efficient replacement for my old Camry. Of course, the Insight will still be that, but apparently not to the degree I was hoping.

Why aren't we promoting Diesel / Biodiesel? (4, Interesting)

thesolo (131008) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127253)

It looks like these cars are more hype than help in the battle against pollution and foreign fuel reliance.

If these results are accurate, then this is true, and it's quite sad. What I don't understand is why we aren't promoting Diesel engines more often.

For example, a VW Jetta TDI [vw.com] gets 50+ MPG on the highway. Unlike the Prius or the Civic Hybrid, diesel engines are cheap, highly reliable, have low maintenance costs, and can easily run on BioDiesel [biodiesel.org] without a performance loss. Even with BioDiesel and Petroleum blends, you're still talking very little pollution in comparison to a similar unleaded gasoline engine. A full tank on a TDI will get you almost 800 miles before you need a refill.

So why as a society (I'm referring to the US here, the EU is very much ahead of us with biodiesel) don't we promote this more often? Let's reduce our foreign oil dependence, and not have a need to drill ANWR. Use Diesel & Biodiesel!

Never fully understood these milage claims (1)

sphealey (2855) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127258)

My 1986 Honda Civic CRX (a 2 seater, but essentially the same size as the Prius) with mechanical carb and 5-speed manual got 40-45 mpg in fast/heavy city driving. It always seemed to me that with computer-controlled fuel injection and a 6-speed it should have hit 50 easily. Plus I could toast 98% of the cars on the road at that time at the stoplight (Corvettes included - at least for the first 100 yards!).

So now come the hybrids with tons of technology, multi-speed automatics or CVTs, etc etc etc. Yet they barely do better than my 1985 CRX.

Odd.

sPh

hybrids??? gimme EVs (1, Informative)

savuporo (658486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127261)

Give me Tango or Tzero [wisc.edu] over any hydrogen creation anytime. Simpler, saner, better performer.
Check out Michelins Challenge Bibendum [challengebibendum.com] results, EVs routinely kick those hybrids asses in every relevant category.

My friends Geo Metro gets 48mpg (1)

dougnaka (631080) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127264)

I think he got it in 1992? It's ugly, small, and underpowered, but so are mini's...

Tree hugger gets the shaft and nobody cares. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127270)

News at 11.

Fire up the V8 I'm going to lunch at McDonalds in the next state.

Hey Taco!! Up yours!

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What's his route? (3, Interesting)

daves (23318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127271)

He mentions that he lives in Cincinnati. Significant parts of the city are not particularly flat.

I'd like to know more about his commute route.

I get 30+ MPG on my Civic that's not Hybrid (1)

towerdave (739384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127274)

So if this guy is only getting 33 MPG, that's not that great. Most of my driving is interstate to work, but stop and go for the last few miles crossing the Mississippi into St. Louis.

Funny, I was just telling my wife last night that my next car might be a hybrid since I'm driving mostly highway miles to and from work. Guess maybe that won't help me much.

TowerDave

depends on how you drive (1)

chaos421 (531619) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127275)

those hybrid cars do really well, depending on who is driving them. slam on the gas at each light? the computer thinks you're on your way to the hospital and not worried about fuel economy at that point.

...besides, how many cars beat 45 mpg?

this site explains things pretty well... http://www.hybridcars.com/how-hybrids-work.html

Proud 2002 Prius Owner (1)

mkop (714476) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127283)

There are many factors to why someone would not get good gas mileage in any car hybrid or not, I have yet to see any car live up to the EPA "Estimate" of MPG. I think the biggest factor for his low mileage is the cold weather. FYI-I have an average of 41.5 MPG over the lifetime of my car. In the winter it is about 36 mpg in the spring, summer, and fall it is about 47 mpg. Even at it's worse I get better mileage than any other econo box out there

Screw mileage, how about emissions (1)

Microsift (223381) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127290)

If these cars live up to the low emissions hype, then they are still part of the solution to a significant environmental problem.

The Real Reason (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127303)

Let's face guys - the real reason why Hybrids get such poor mileage is because people are starting to "rice" them out just like other Asian cars.

I saw a ridiculous looking Prius yesterday - boost gauge, 17" spinners, recaro seats, quad custom exhaust. Jeez! No wonder you get such bad milage!!!

Overblown by the media... (5, Interesting)

mbbac (568880) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127305)

Perhaps the Civic isn't as great as the EPA rated. I don't know, I'm not interested in one. However, Randy Rathbun's blog had a mileage log [randyrathbun.org] that contradicts this story at least as far as the Prius (the only hybrid I'm interested in at this point) is concerned. I trust his empirical evidence more than a poorly researched article that paints all hybrids with the Civic-brush.

Old Honda Insights (2, Funny)

BeerVarmint (553698) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127307)

I owned a 2001 Honda Insight a few years ago. It did not live up to it's claims of 65+ miles a gallon, but my lifetime average was a respectable 54. Mind you, I did drive on country roads, and rarely got many highway miles, so I never complained much.

Some points on Hybrids (2, Interesting)

Eagle5596 (575899) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127309)

First of, a Honda Civic is not a true hybrid. It doesn't contain all of the necessary systems like the Prius and the Insight to fall under classification as a true hybrid vehicle.

As for the more interesting question of why they don't get the listed MPG ratings, there are a few reasons:

1) First off you have to drive it "perfectly" to get those ratings, just as normal cars don't achieve their listed potential, neither do hybrids because most people don't know the most fuel efficient driving practices (not flooring it ever, for example).
2) Hybrids must be driven to fully take advantage of their hybrid quality. This is different from normally driving a car. You have to ensure you are using the regenerative breaks instead of coasting to a stop, switch into B drive when on hills, lay off of the accelerator when it isn't truly needed (i.e. gain speed gradually on highways, instead of flooring it and dumping a gallon of gas down the drain).

When your average person drives a car, he/she cares more about "looking cool", not letting someone cut them off, or some other idiotic driving practice than driving it economically. How much thought do you give to driving for maximum fuel economy? With Hybrids, due to their differences these changes can make more of an impact.

The guy is an idiot (1)

dimer0 (461593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127313)

This guy must be an idiot.

My cube-neighbor here at work just picked up his Honda Accord.. He's doing some city, some highway, and he's getting about 55mpg.

But, with this kinda car - depending on HOW you drive it - your gas mileage will change dramatically. There's more of an art. My buddy started out only getting about 49mpg, but he said after a while of getting used to driving and monitoring the charge-gauges, etc, he's found that changing his driving habits a bit have gotten him better gas mileage - by far!

One concrete example: this guy's wife was driving his car, and got horrible gas mileage. The reason? .. She'd accelerate, and when coming to a stop sign or whatever, she'd throw in the clutch and put it in neutral and coast to it. This is definitely NOT what you want to do to charge up them batteries... If you drive this way, the car will end up with no battery left, and you'll be spending more gas just charging the battery!

Maybe the dealers need to give training classes.

And, of course, don't drive the thing like a racecar. It's not. I drive my Z06 normal (most of the time), and get between 20 and 25 mpg. There's times, though, that I feel a bit 'spunky', and get about 6mpg. Heh

Miles Per Gallon (2, Interesting)

goretexguy (619280) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127315)

I've just gotta throw in my two cents here: I'm perfectly happy with my 1996 Saturn SL2. With 101K miles on it, it gets 32 MPG during my city commute (15 miles each way) and will hit 40 MPG when I drive long distances.

The 'old' technology works just fine for me.

YMMV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127324)

had to be said...

Hybrid fuel economy (1)

jbrandv (96371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127327)

I'm averaging 45 mpg in my Honda Civic Hybrid. I travel about 60 miles every day and have about 2500 feet of elevation change twice a day. I suspect that these people are driving like idiots to get such low mileage. Remember that the estimate is based on very conservative driving. Level ground, few stops/starts, etc.
When I purchased my car the regular CIVIC was ~$17000. I payed $19000 but get $2000 tax break so they end up costing the same. I also got a state sales tax break which reduced it even more.

This just in! (1)

Anubis333 (103791) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127330)

(CE/AP) Honda claims that mileage numbers not indicative of actual mileage. In response to a growing trend among CPU processor manufacturers, Honda will be releasing their cars with 'numbers indicative of overall performance, not purely miles per gallon'.

I'm happy with my '04 Prius's mileage (1)

juanfe (466699) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127335)

True, I've rarely gotten more than 45 mpg on a full tank of gas on my new Prius. BUT, I also know a few things:

- I bought my car in January, and it's very apparent that battery performance is lower when it's cold, causing more fuel consumption. Other Prius owners confirm that... we had a full two month period in Jan/Feb in the DC area where we rarely had temperatures over 37 degrees.

- When I'm on the highway, I see average performance of ~50 mpg if I'm near speed limits. When I'm moving in rush hour traffic, I see average performance of ~60 mpg. What gets the mileage low is that on uphill stretches mileage goes down to ~20mpg or less, and on acceleration, if you speed up too quickly, mileage will go down as well... if you gradually speed up, the electric motor will go just a tad longer and the engine will kick in just a little bit later, when you have more momentum--at that point mileage is somewhat better (~30 mpg).

So I've interpreted the EPA ratings as "if you were only driving on a highway for a full tank of gas, at highway speeds moving all the time, you'd get ~55 mpg; if you were only driving in city traffic, moving most of the time at city speeds, you'd get ~60 mpg... if you're in stop-and-go commuter traffic that shifts between highway and city, with hills and such, YMMV."

Still, on my old Mazda 626, I'd only ever get anything close to 32mpg when I was on road trips on highways with steady speeds... other than that, i'd be averaging high 20s on a full tank of gas.

Honda (1)

FreemanPatrickHenry (317847) | more than 10 years ago | (#9127340)

I do fairly well with my Honda Civic (5 speed stick). Well, ~30-33 MPG in normal commute traffic. It basically comes down to how you drive. If you know how to use a manual transmission, it can give you a significant boost in gas mileage, if only because you can keep the car in the most efficient gear for the condititions. Then again, with a stick you have a lot of temptation to have more fun with it, and the mileage suffers.

Bottom line: drive your car right. It'll be good to you.

Diesel. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9127341)

I quite happily get 50MPG on my US 2000 Volkswagen TDI in mixed driving. Yeah, I'm generally a conservative driver, but even when I hammer it around town or hit 120MPH on empty backroads I've never been lower than 40MPG. What I don't understand is why VW doesn't combine one of its smaller diesel engines with a hybrid system, as these engines produce peak torque--the thing you want when generating electricity--at less than 2000 RPMs. Even if that adds 5-10% fuel efficiency, it creates even more distance between them and everyone else. And things will only get better in 2006 when ultra-low sulfur diesel is mandated in the US, both in terms of power and cleanliness.

Hybrids? Good idea. Let the technology run for a few years, though.
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