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Would you like to own a hybrid car?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 6, 2007

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Photo of Wayne Hawkins

“Yes. Mainly because of the environment, to make a stand against the burning of fossil fuels and to help save the planet. Saving on gas would actually be a secondary reason.”

Photo of Kelly Bubeck

“No. I think they’re funny looking. They would have to change the style of the cars.”

Photo of Jeff Listerman

“Yeah. I’d love to, but there’s no way I could ever afford one. I wish they would consider having really big state and federal tax breaks for people who are willing to invest in alternative energy.”

Photo of Jancita Warrington

“Yeah. I would like to because they use less gas, are better for the environment and you get a tax credit for buying one. I think it’s important for all of us to consider the environment when buying a new car.”

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ohjayhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

I had kind of considered it at some point until my brother-in-law, who is a mechanic, mentioned one day that he wonders about what happens post-warranty. He said that he wonders how cost-prohibitive it could be for someone to get a hybrid car fixed... that's saying something considering how expensive it can be to have a normal car fixed.

Also, Jeff missed the boat... until this year I think (?) they were offering a large federal tax incentive to buy hybrid cars.

Linda Aikins 10 years, 11 months ago

I wouldn't want to be commuting on the highways in one. In a wreck, you would lose.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 11 months ago

Nope. If I bought a car specifically to save gas, it would be a small diesel, not a hybrid. Mileage would be as good or better than a hybrid (if I bought the right diesel), and the technology has been around a good long time (relatively speaking).

And when the automakers come up with a real alternative, then I'll consider buying it. But I'm not interested in wasting my money on a hybrid.

paladin 10 years, 11 months ago

Heck no. They look stupid and they whine. Nobody likes a whiner.

jonas 10 years, 11 months ago

Really, doesn't it seem like some of Honda and Toyota's regular cars get about as good gas mileage as the hybrids do?

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago

I agree with sgtwolverine. I'll be happy when the good eurodiesels start showing up in abundance, now that we've cut the amount of sulphur in our diesel fuel.

We had cars that got 50 mpg in the early 80s. If we had continued on that path, our cars would easily get 80 mpg now.

bokon0n 10 years, 11 months ago


The article you linked makes the very dubious assumption that the Hummer will last 3 times the life of the Prius:

"The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it."

If you assume an equal lifespan for the two, the Prius then becomes nearly half the cost per mile of the Hummer ($3.25/3 = $1.08). The story of a Vancouver cab driver's Prius which ran nearly 250,000 trouble-free miles before being bought back by Toyoto to examine its durability suggests the Prius is much more durable than the article assumes, read more about it here:

imastinker 10 years, 11 months ago

That cost included more than the cost of purchase. That's 325k to drive 100k miles. The car maybe costs 40k. That number sounds very high.

I wonder how many people realize how poorly emergency response in rural areas will be for hybrids. Or how much more likely to die in a crash than a bigger car's driver. I drive a pickup and my wife sits in a town car - two of the biggest vehicles I can find. Her town car averages 22.3 MPG over the last 40k miles and my pickup is about 15 MPG, higher empty and lower towing. Her car I will replace at 15 years or 200k miles, whichever comes first. Mine will be about 300k miles. My cost of ownership is half what most people spend, even with the mileage these get.

ms_canada 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't know about that. I am of the understanding that hybrids are the result of cross breeding and may not be able to reproduce, something to do with an extra chromosome. So what if I buy a hybrid and really, really like it and it wears out and I want another but can't get one because they cannot be reproduced. I don't think I would be too happy.

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago

Bigger doesn't always equal higher survivability. Bigger almost certainly isn't less likely to crash, especially when talking about truck-like vehicles. There are videos on the 'net showing a SMART impacting a Jersey barrier at 70 mph and the passenger space remains largely intact. Try that with a pickup.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 11 months ago

No. Hybrid vehicles are a marketing strategy, not an effiiciency mechanism. They serve the market of hand-wringing armchair environmentalist yuppies who want to look like they give a crap about the environment.

More efficient gasoline engines, diesel, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, including hydrogen cells, are the true ways to move away from oil consumption. Hybrids are wwindow dressing at best and a dishonest marketing ploy at worst.

oldgoof 10 years, 11 months ago

Hybrids may be a marketing ploy....but all my friends with them love them... They also say the instrumentation that gives immediate feedback on mpg has a behavior modification effect (less acceleration of engine, more gentle braking) Maybe we should put this on all cars.

blackwalnut 10 years, 11 months ago

There are tax credits for buying a hybrid. I think it is something like $5,000 to buy a Prius.

Why is there no vendor of biodiesel in Lawrence? While biodiesel is not the whole answer, it's a start.

Mkh 10 years, 11 months ago

yourworstnightmare: "including hydrogen cells, are the true ways to move away from oil consumption. Hybrids are wwindow dressing at best and a dishonest marketing ploy at worst."

Hydrogen? Hydrogen will not work, someone is taking you for a long ride, talk about a "dishonest marketing ploy".

Marion that editorial from a college newspaper you keep referencing is ridiculous, makes no sense whatsoever if you actually compute the equation.

Hybrids are certainly not the answer, but guess what there really is not one. Hydrogen is a myth. Diesel is more efficent, but it's still made from oil which is running out...have you seen the cost of diesel lately? And there are only a small number a tiny siche diesel cars that get incredible mpg. Biodiesel is a great idea but turning the 200 million American cars into it and then establing a brand new infrastructre to support it may be impossible-- that's a whole lot of veggie oil to produce. Ethonal is another one that will not work but gets serious hype, elthonal is a failure because it takes more oil energy to produce to crops than you energy you get in return for them.

As we witness the Oil Age end there will be temporary solutions such as hybrids and diesel, etc that will be have to be used, but it will be painfully obvious that there is no longterm solution.

blackwalnut 10 years, 11 months ago

"No. I think they're funny looking. They would have to change the style of the cars."

  • Kelly Bubeck, Kansas University freshman, Lawrence

How shallow can a person be?

Mkh 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion, I'm always flattered that you think I'm capable of being 4 different prolific forum posters but that is besides the point...

I never said the Prius' batteries weren't bad for the enviroment, they are. But the facts don't add up that it is worse than the Hummer.

imastinker 10 years, 11 months ago

gccs14r -

I have seen the National Insurance institute risk assesment for automobiles. They show the rate of injury and fatality for all automibilies, by 100000 on the road. It is almost exclusively lower for a heavier car and higher for a smaller car. Weight was the biggest factor I saw. The cars I own were in the bottom 5% for death rate.

After having been on a lot of accident scenes, I can attest to that being true. Further, rollover accidents aren't that deadly if a setbelt is worn. The hybrid is surprisingly heavy, with a soft suspension, narrow track and short wheelbase. This is a recipe for disaster. Why doesn't someone look at the rollover rate for hybrid cars? I bet it's higher than SUV's.

In an accident I don't want those batteries near me. Combine the batteries with the high voltage cables that rescue teams are not aware of the location of and you have a situation where people are afraid to rescue for fear of being electrocuted. This will be better if you wreck in a heavily popluated area with a paid dept that has time for training, but who needs extrication in town?

You guys do what you want - I think they are a death trap and a waste of money.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 11 months ago

gcc: There is an important reason the Smart's passenger space remained intact: it's designed not to crumple at all. As it's been explained to me, a Smart is designed to behave much like a billiard ball in the event of a collision -- instead of absorbing impact to lessen it, as the hoods and trunks of larger cars are designed to do when they crumple, they almost bounce off upon impact. I'm not sure what exactly that does when it comes to the effect of the impact upon the occupants, but it's probably not an improvement. But it's a design of necessity because with the Smart, there's absolutely no extra vehicle to crumple to absorb the impact.

Mkh: That hybrids aren't an answer was really my point. They aren't even a temporary solution. They're PR. Diesels aren't an answer, either, but they're only trying to be efficient, not revolutionary. And while highly-efficient diesels aren't commonplace across the U.S., they are widely available in Europe, which means it wouldn't be a big stretch to make them available here, particularly now that diesel fuel standards here are being improved. If neither hybrids nor diesels are an answer, I'll go with a technology that has been proven for a while now and is being improved even further over one that still has a lot of question marks.

Nick Yoho 10 years, 11 months ago

I want a Suzuki Maruti 800cc (smaller engine than many motorcycles),and it has AC.they want around $5,700 for one.Too bad its not available in the US.It's in India.

imastinker 10 years, 11 months ago

Marion - I have always maintained that the crown victoria is the least expensive car to own and operate.

What's the answer?

blessed3x 10 years, 11 months ago

I'll buy a Prius (yuck!) when Pelosi and Gore buy one and stop flying chartered planes hither and yon. Oh yeah, and Gore has to sell his house and buy one that only uses 10 times the energy an average American home uses.

JHawker 10 years, 11 months ago

I would definitely buy a hybrid car. They're so efficient and it'd be a great way to help the environment. "Funny looking"???? Hybrid cars are not funny looking - they're cute and look great. I hope people will take the time to do the research and realize that it is a great idea.

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago

Personal autos need to go away. Until then, the available vehicle should be a 4-door hatchback that weighs no more than 1000kg, has a top speed of 100km/h (with a 30 second emergency override button that lets you go 125km/h), and gets at least 34km/L. If you can't haul it in that, have it delivered.

imastinker 10 years, 11 months ago

34 km/L??

My GMC dually gets better than that.My old dually got better than that. It had over 300k miles on it. My old 1970 Impala with a 400 Cubic inch engine got better than that.

You are crazy.

Mkh 10 years, 11 months ago

A new report released yesterday indicates that US gas prices have hit an all time high at $3.07 average. Experts say that $4 a gallon prices will be here very soon. In a few years though we'll look back on this and remember how cheap oil was.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

It's kind of a moot point, as I will never be able to afford a hybrid anyway.

Maybe we should go in for pedal cars, or ones like the Flintstones had...

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

"The police said a total of 730 vehicles were torched and 28 police officers were injured in violent incidents from Sunday night to Monday morning. Police fought stone-throwing rioters with tear gas, but it was not clear how many rioters were injured, according to Radio France."

I suspect the car torching had more to do with the crappy French cars and less with the conservative, pro-American, anti-socialist election results.

hometownhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

Hey Marion, have you no life? quit dominating a message board and do something constructive with your time.

MyName 10 years, 11 months ago

First of all, the solution to the oil crises is good, affordable public transportation. You may not be able to run every car in America on biodiesel, but you could certainly move most of us around if you had a decent public transportation system that ran on renewable fuels. Of course, Detroit would hate that idea because they'd sell less cars, which is the very reason why you get these pie-in-the-sky ideas like hybrid cars, and hydrogen cars, and ethanol powered cars. Some of these ideas are doable, from a theoretical standpoint, but none of them would work half as well as a better public transportation system. Especially one that included one or more of these technologies.

And I'm sorry Marion, the numbers you put up only proved one thing: that the cheapest car you can find is the one you already own. If you'd actually compared the dollar for dollar cost of ownership of a SUV and a hybrid in your analysis, not the specious "energy cost" you cited by that college paper, but the amount actually paid by the consumer, you'd see why so many people are looking at hybrids with anticipation.

The cheapest car new you can own, in terms of fuel economy and cost of ownership, is a compact diesel. Depending upon how the technology goes, the hybrid may pass them up. But the only thing cheaper than the car you already own is not owning a car at all, and that's the wave of the future for most people: reliable public transporation.

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago

Good luck getting that variable-venturi carburetor tuned. Also good luck with getting R-12 to keep the A/C charged.

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago


You may want to re-check your math. The only way you'd get that kind of fuel economy from the vehicles you listed is if you pushed them off a cliff with the engine not running. I'll give you a hint: 34km/L is about 129km/gallon.

gccs14r 10 years, 11 months ago

"...which carb can be rebuilt on your kitchen table if you can follow the instructions which come with the readily available hygrade jiffy kit!"

The average driver, who can't be relied upon to even keep his tires aired up, isn't going to be able to do that. Most of the kids working on cars these days weren't even born when that car was built and aren't going to know what to do with a car with no diagnostic plug, so that limits the choice in mechanics, too. That car will need frequent service as its 30-year-old subsystems collapse, so the hapless owner will get to know his mechanic on a first-name basis as he puts the mechanic's kids through college.

Regarding the R-134a conversion, you have no idea. For starters, PAG and POE oils don't climb worth beans, so the compressor needs to be mounted low to keep it lubricated, which just isn't possible in most engine bays and is impossible for everyone who isn't a fabricator with a metal shop at his disposal. There are other problems with trying to do the conversion that just doesn't make it worth the effort, such as needing to clear every bit of mineral oil and clorine residue from every part of the system. Even if you do it right, by replacing the entire gas loop with all new parts, it still won't hold up, since R-12 systems weren't designed to be gas-tight for the smaller R-134a molecules.

Nick Yoho 10 years, 11 months ago

I love cars too Marion.Its ok to have them as a hobby.But the ones we love are a thing of the past.It's time to become responsible for ourselves and our footprint (whatever type).It breaks my heart. But we can at least try to be excited about the changes to come! Change is painful,I know,but growth comes through pain.Humanity is growing.and I am not talking about population.

My solution was to keep my car,it gets ok mileage,and to buy a Kawasaki Ninja 250cc. payment:$40 per month,Insurance,$55 per year.ear to ear smile,as you eat my dust,priceless.Of course,you'd catch up eventually as it tops out around 100mph. But,I didn't buy it to go fast,I bought it for the 65mpg it achieves, stock.Its only good for 4 or 5 months out of the year,though.But it is keeping all those miles off my 2.2 Chevy motor.making my car last many more years.every day I ride it saves 88 miles on my car,and saves me about $4 or $5 bucks in gas ,I pollute less,and enjoy it so much more.

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