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  • Apr 25, 2006

Despite a conspicuous rise in gas prices over the last three months, the demand for hybrids isn't budging.

According to analysts cited in a new Reuters article, consumers aren't being swayed by increases in fuel economy, available tax credits and in some areas, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane privileges that hybrid ownership offers. The reason? Most cite a reluctance to pay the up-front premium of around $3,000, while others believe would-be buyers are turned off by hybrid vehicles' added complexity and potential long-term costs.

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports magazine worked out ownership costs over five years and 75,000 miles for a number of hybrids, determining that only the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius saved owners any money (the former scrimped just $400 and latter $300). More to the point, others cost thousands more over the long haul.

[Sources: Reuters; Honda UK]



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  • 49 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      With the tax credits the economics are actually quite good for many hybrids. Comparing a hybrid with a similar non-hybrid using my site, http://www.truedelta.com, often yields similar figures. I'm not sure many people know about the tax credits; my site includes them.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The problem is that hybrids, automotively speaking, are too inelastic!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I still don't get it. I understand comparing a Civic to a Civic Hybrid. But there are other comparisons that can be made that seem to go completely unnoticed.

      The Prius doesn't have a non-Hybrid version. So, say a family is looking a a Camry that costs $25,000. There's a Prius on the dealer lot that also costs $25,000. The family decides to buy the Prius. They get a tax break. They buy less gas than they would have with the Camry.

      What's not to like about that comparison?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Those of us who've yet to buy a hybrid are either afraid of the gathering smug problem or we can't stand the smell of our own farts.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Frankly this is entirely the wrong forum to even talk about hybrid cars. The majority of people here are going to bash anything with less than 8 cylinders and/or 300hp.

      For 90% of people here any vehicle getting more than 25mpg is a ""wimpy piece of shit for girlscouts (tobacco spit and crotchgrab for emphasis).""

      Of course you get what you put out bait for. The writers are clearly people who define good and bad in terms of 0-60, and does it remind them of the cars of their white-trash childhood. So its no surprise that they attract the same. And of course they take every opportunity to slam any vehicle that doesnt give them an erection.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I dont know whats wrong with you guys, all this crap about "premiums" are just propaganda to sway the public from buying hybrid vehicles, the Prius costs upwards of 21,000 dollars what car costs 3000 less with all these features, seriously? Consumer Reports has apologized for this formula about "premiums" in a recent article. Hybrids are the future, not hype, not in a niche market.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Well that may be because people realize they can get better mpg with less effort.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "The Prius doesn't have a non-Hybrid version. So, say a family is looking a a Camry that costs $25,000. There's a Prius on the dealer lot that also costs $25,000. The family decides to buy the Prius. They get a tax break. They buy less gas than they would have with the Camry.

      What's not to like about that comparison?"

      A Volkswagen TDI. "Non Hybrid"

      Its my opinion that if they take Hybrids to the next level of plug in capability, and the vehicle can travel
      60 miles on batteries alone then they have something of real value to sell.

      Until then , "Hybrids" just consume more energy to make using more of the precious fuels that need to be conserved. My Opinion.

      Not that I wouldn't buy a hybrid. They all seem to get pretty good MPG. I just think the current hybrids are some what like old charging systems.

      The bottom line when purchasing your new car is to really consider gas prices in the future. I tend to think $5 or higher will be here shortly.

      If the terrorist take out a major refinery well $10 a gallon will be cheap, if you can get gas at all.

      Jake.

      PS, "But at least the technology on motorcycles has improved tremendously in the last decade... just goes to show that it IS possible to design small motors and vehicles that are relatively economical..."

      Your thinking about Scooters right? Do your research.


      • 8 Years Ago
      I think it takes a long term test period of let's say 200K to determine the actual cost and real savings on the hybrids. My PRius has 65K on it and has never needed to see the dealer for maintenance. I have replaced the tires at 40K and have only had oil and filter changes to date. On a warranty computer reprogramming at 60K the brakes were only 25% worn. I think I can get 200K out of the car without a battery exchange. If that is the case, and with reduced maintenance costs, it could very easily save more than just a few hundred dollars. After 200K I figure the car has run out of life. Only Time will tell. Toyota claims that the early models are indeed saving money. Don't write off the hybrid based upon the projections of just a few companies. Hybrid owners will be the real guinea pigs in this and, at this time, I am still a real cheerleader for the Prius. I will definitely consider the new Camry Hybrid if the cost differential is not too great.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not to nitpick, but demand for hybrids could only be said to be inelastic if it remained constant while prices fell. But prices aren't falling, so it's no surprise that demand is stable.

      If we actually did see substantial price cuts for hybrids (or a sustained increase in fuel prices), I'm sure demand would rise. But consumers have been conditioned to believe that runups in gasoline prices are relatively short-term phenomena.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's fairly simple to understand.

      1) People do not want to pay the premium for hybrids because they don't make financial sense.

      2) People do not want to buy hybrids because they look whimpy and unattractive relative to their dino-sipping siblings.

      So it simple automakers, sell a hybrid for the same price as the regular models and make them attractive (note to GM, this will require a redesign of almost all of your vehicles).

      Just to take a cheap shot at CA. The Toyota Prius is about as good looking as a Stanford coed during midterms. Drop a hybrid into the Lexus IS250 and you've got a socal coed in mid-summer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Interesting discussion but ultimately hybrids have to stand on their own not with the tax credit"

      That's a great idea! But let's not forget that for years, "light" trucks got exempt from all sorts of regulations; from safety, pollution, to fuel consumption. SUVs and trucks would not be so profittable if the automakers were not exploiting this loophole. Hybrids are only getting a break now because the gov't is trying to promote fuel saving technologies. I say, take away the tax breaks for 6000+ lbs monsters first!

      "That being said I would love to see you put 3 kids, 2 dogs, and stuff into a Prius..."

      Alright, you may not fit 3 kids (2 adults) and 2 dogs into a Prius, so what's your point? Are you going to be able to fit them into a Camry? In situations like that, minivans are perfect, but for various reasons, people would go for Suburbans and Tahoes instead. Minivans like Honda Odyssey or Subaru Forrestor get mid-twenties in city and close to 30's in the highway. I know some people like to move the whole house on vacations, but there are certainly advantages in packing light for trips.

      Either way, if a Prius or Civic is not what you need, then that's just what it is. If a minivan will do the job, that's what they're for!

      "That being said I would consider an alternative to a minivan/SUV that gets 30+ even if it cost more."

      I guess all you have left are Station Wagons and so-called Crossovers. Off the top of my head, a VW Whatever Wagon TDI would get you 30+ MPG. 0-60 in 14 seconds, and it's cheaper than many minivans and SUVs.
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