Hybrids - Solution? Denial? or One Step Towards Conservation?
Hybrids get better mileage in ideal conditions and the savings are limited. Also, the current price of hybrids prohibit the majority of consumers from obtaining one if even if the prices came down, many people would still not be able to afford to trade in their current car to purchase a hybrid. Our government has the power to incentivize conservation efforts, such as offering tax breaks on hybrid vehicles where more people can afford them, or taxing the use of gas guzzling mileage inefficient vehicles. In San Franciscco, new measures have been put in where hybrid vehicle owners can ride in the HOV lane at any time with one person in the vehicle.
So while i think the increase in demand for demand for hybrids shows the beginnings of American consumers realizing that we can't continue to consume oil like there is no tomorrow, hybrids only offer one small, tiny step towards kicking our oil addicition. American's are being sheltered from the far reaching consequences of our oil addiction and we're behind in the game. Don't you think it's interesting that Japanese and other foreign car dealers have emphasized fuel efficieny for years and now GM and other American manufacturers are struggling (GM is laying off thousands of workers, losing market share, and possibly close to filing for bankruptcy) to get on the hybrid bandwagon? Don't you find it interesting that Honda is not only producing hybrid vehicles but also diversifying by planning to mass produce solar cells by 2007. It's kind of like the rest of the world knows something we as Americans don't know...or at the least, don't want to acknowledge.
Honda CEO says hybrids must become less expensive
Automakers will to have to slash the cost of developing gas-electric hybrid vehicles compared with conventional models before they truly catch on with the public, Honda Motor CEO Takeo Fukui said Tuesday, one day before Honda's new Civic hybrid goes on sale in the USA.
The 2006 Civic hybrid is priced at $21,850, 15% more than the $19,060 for the top-of-the-line Civic with a five-speed automatic transmission. The entire Civic lineup has been redone for 2006. The 2005 Civic hybrid came at about the same premium over the top-of-the-line sedan with a four-speed automatic.
"We do still understand the price difference is rather significant for ordinary consumers," Fukui said. He said that automakers have to find a way to reduce the price difference by about half.
To reduce the price difference further will require attacking costs in the key components that separate hybrids from regular cars — the battery, computer modules and electric motors. Reducing those costs will be easier as consumer demand grows, Fukui said.
He said he sees hybrids as just one solution to the move among consumers to save energy. The company also is developing vehicles powered by hydrogen and natural gas. Fukui isn't writing off conventionally powered cars either, saying he thinks there are still more gas savings that can be wrung out of them.
Estimated hybrid tax credits that will be available January 1, 2006:
Brand - Model - EPA mpg city/hwy - Total tax credit
Chev/GMC - Silverado/Sierra 2WD - 18/21 - $250
Chev/GMC - Silverado/Sierra 4WD - 17/19 - $650
Ford - Escape Hybrid 2WD - 36/31 - $2,600
Ford - Escape Hybrid 4WD - 33/29 - $1,050
Honda - Civic Hybrid* - 49/51 - $2,100
Honda - Insight - 57/56 - $1,450
Lexus - RX 400h - 31/27 - $2,200
Toyota - Highlander Hybrid 2WD - 33/28 - $2,600
Toyota - Highlander Hybrid 4WD - 31/27 - $2,200
Toyota - Prius - 60/51 - $3,150
* — for automatic; $1,700 credit for manual transmission modelSources: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, EPA
Ford teaches hybrid buyers how to drive
But last weekend, Ford engineers spent two days teaching 300 well-educated, well-connected technology lovers everything they can do to maximize the mileage on their gas-electric hybrid versions of the Escape SUV.
The move comes as more hybrid owners say they are unhappy with the fuel economy they get. Hybrid vehicles are powered by two motors, one gas and one electric, and can deliver much higher gas mileage than traditional engines. But about 60% of hybrid owners say they're not happy with how much gas their cars use, compared with 27.1% for all cars and trucks, according to CNW Marketing Research.
"The auto industry in general needs to do a better job listening to consumer sentiment, especially when there are areas of potential gaps between ad claims and product performance," he says. "For many consumers, there's been some unmistakable disappointment when hybrid cars aren't meeting the full promise staked out in the commercials."
Chuck Schifsky, a spokesman for Honda, admits that consumers get about 10% fewer miles per gallon than the sticker advertises, but he says that's what many people expect.
Fuel economy numbers are calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency, which sticks a tube into the exhaust pipe, runs the vehicle on a treadmill, then figures how much carbon has been burned. That leads to mileage numbers that are often higher than what drivers obtain in the real world.