Hybrids Turn Into Road Kill

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Sharp fall in hybrid vehicles sales as US tightens belt

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    By Bernard Simon in Toronto
    Published: January 1 2009 23:31 | Last updated: January 1 2009 23:31

    Americans’ appetite for hybrid cars is evaporating as tumbling fuel prices and tighter household budgets trump environmental concerns.

    The sudden reversal in what was, until a few months ago, one of the hottest segments of the world’s biggest car market creates a new area of uncertainty for carmakers, such as Toyota, General Motors, Ford Motor and Honda, that are investing heavily in hybrids and other fuel-efficient technologies.

    Industry executives, including Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive, have joined environmentalists in urging US politicians to consider the hitherto taboo idea of raising petrol taxes as a way of encouraging fuel conservation.

    US hybrid petro-electric sales in November shrank 53 per cent from a year earlier, compared with a 37 per cent drop overall, according to Autodata, a market-research firm. December sales, to be announced on Monday, are to show a similar trend.

    Sales of most hybrid models have dropped sharply. Demand for Toyota’s Prius hatchback, the top-selling hybrid, fell by almost half in November from a year earlier. The Camry sedan was down 57 per cent, and the Ford Escape crossover 35 per cent.

    The setback has been pronounced for larger models, touted as much for performance as fuel economy. Sales of the Lexus RX400 sport-utility vehicle are now little more than a third of the level a year ago.

    Edmunds.com, an online motor service, reports that searches for hybrids on its websites are running at less than a quarter of their peak in May.

    George Pipas, Ford sales analyst, said: “The lower gas prices are, the tougher the proposition is to pay a premium for a hybrid engine.”

    Hybrid vehicles typically cost $3,000-5,000 more than their petrol equivalents. Toyota has used up tax credits available for hybrids, and several other manufacturers are close to their limit.

    Edmunds.com estimates that a Prius owner must now wait more than eight years to recoup the extra cost of the vehicle in fuel savings, compared with three and a half years when the petrol price climbed above $4 a gallon last spring. The average price is now about $1.61.

    Mr Pipas said that belt-tightening in the face of the weakening economy had become the dominant factor in the US car market. Small cars accounted for 18.7 per cent of sales in the three months to November, up from 16.6 per cent a year earlier, in spite of the slide in petrol prices.

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  2. And now, the worst appears to be over. Last night's smug storm… has left thousands homeless. All across the Midwest, people are picking up the pieces. Cities like Denver and South Park are heavily damaged, but still all right. However, San Francisco, I'm afraid… has disappeared completely up its own asshole.

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  3. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Obviously people aren't going to buy what they can't afford, but hybrids still need to be developed because oil will cost more in the future, and it would be nice if we didn't have to shit ourselves and quickly ramp-up production at the last minute.

    Big-engine, low-mileage fans might not want to admit it, but the slight decrease in gas consumption that caused the drop in prices was precipitated by more hybrids/compacts and fewer SUVs. It's true that people stayed home more too, but necessity driving is still the vast majority of the driving people do, and gas prices dropped because people did their necessity driving in more efficient vehicles.

    So you can thank those smug assholes for making your LS1's affordable to drive again.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  4. Silver 93 Supra

    Silver 93 Supra Social Liberal, Fiscal Conservative

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    Oil prices didn't drop by ~65%~ because there were more fuel efficient vehicles on the road. Global demand got hammered by the weak world economy, and the speculation bubble burst.

    Engine size has less to do with mileage than weight or aerodynamics. Thus why Corvettes only get 2 highway mpg less than a v6 Camry.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  5. PanzerAce

    PanzerAce Active Member

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    And gearing, actually.
     
  6. Silver 93 Supra

    Silver 93 Supra Social Liberal, Fiscal Conservative

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    Yup Corvettes get good mileage because they are able to use such tall gearing. They are able to use tall gearing because the engine produces high torque at a low rpm. A simple explanation is that a 6 liter at 1500 rpm is equivalent to a 3 liter at 3000 rpm in terms of fuel consumption.
     
  7. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    The Corvette is a terrible example; it's certainly efficient for what it is, but it doesn't even remotely represent what most people drive to work every day. Whatever the mechanical reasons for the Corvette's efficiency, the conceptual reason is because the Corvette is honed and polished to a mirror-shine compared to most cars with big engines. Name one other car with a 6-liter engine that can even daydream about getting 30mpg. Last I checked, there aren't any.

    The difference between rising fuel prices and falling fuel prices was a 3% drop in consumption. That is easily accomplished by driving the Camry instead of the Sequoia, and planning your trip so you don't drive all over Hell's half-acre when you don't need to.

    The bad economy really didn't have much to do with lowering the price of fuel; it's only keeping prices low by keeping people from having enough money on-hand to drive consumption back up even now that the price is lower.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  8. mtnbikekid08

    mtnbikekid08 Aime-moi moins, mais aime-moi longtemps

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    My motorcycle gets better gas mileage than a hybrid going 80mph on the highway, while I pass them.
    Cost me 3 grand too. FTW.
     
  9. Perfect Speed

    Perfect Speed OT Supporter

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    While that logic might sound good... in the real world its flawed. Car makers put big engines in big vehicles in most cases (this obviously excludes sports cars), so while that 6.0L in the new Vette is capable of near 30mpg... the other cars that have similar displacement like say ... an Escalade... is MUCH heavier (almost 2x as heavy) and MUCH LESS aerodynamic. Also it'll have shorter gearing for the towing that the vehicle is expected to do. However take that exact motor out of the Escalade and swap it back into a Corvette with the corvette trans and the mileage will go right back up.

    Manufacturers don't put huge engines in cars that don't need it. Which is why a camry doesn't have a V8.

    So saying MPG is direct to engine size is incorrect. MPG is more direct to VEHICLE SIZE compared to engine size.
     
  10. Silver 93 Supra

    Silver 93 Supra Social Liberal, Fiscal Conservative

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    The big car is the problem, not the big engine. A perfect example of this is the Ford F-150. Real world mileage is better with the 5.4 liter engine versus the 4.6 liter. Smaller cars have more of an impact on mileage than more efficient engines. Civics from the early 90's got Prius like mileage, because they only weighed 2000 lbs.

    But only a small percentage of people actually changed from the big to the small vehicle. 2008 had a few months when market share on trucks and SUV's were significantly reduced, total vehicle sales were at 12.7 million, while there are hundreds of millions of vehicles on the road. A 3% drop in consumption does not have a 65% impact on price.
     
  11. GammaRadiation

    GammaRadiation Active Member

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    Guys swap 302's into rangers that had 3.0 and 4.0 v6's and 2.3 I-4's and they usually keep the same mileage.

    That being said, the 4cyl's and 6cyls all get about the same MPG given that the v6's dont have the pedal to the metal all of the time.

    The more powerful engine takes less throttle and RPMs for the same style driving.
     
  12. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Not where I live. Over the course of 2008, I saw the roads go from being dominated by SUVs to being dominated by sedans and coupes and light trucks. Given that 75% of the world's population lives in urban and dense-suburban areas, I'm going to venture a guess that what I saw did reflect what most people were doing.

    Yes, a 3% drop in consumption can have that dramatic an effect on price, because the countries that produce that oil can't just ramp-down their production overnight; they have to sell the oil they've already pumped, and they have to keep wells running until they can shut them off properly, which means the market will quickly get flooded with excess oil that they need to sell at any price. People were already buying as much oil as they needed, because they needed to get to work; that 3% drop was almost all cut out of people's recreational driving, and it's a lot easier to live without that, so the price drop had to be that much more dramatic to get people to feel like they could afford to splurge again.
     
  13. GammaRadiation

    GammaRadiation Active Member

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    I wonder how much interest in alternative fuels is going to drop off now that "we dont need it."

    sigh
     
  14. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I don't think interest is going to drop off. Gas is still the cheapest fuel in dollars-per-joule, but ethanol and biodiesel are now proven alternatives with enough infrastructure in place to be viable, and people are really good and sick of paying the Arabs hand-over-fist for oil. (Hell, a bunch of Passat owners in the Midwest have done E85 conversions on their 1.8t's, because they can crank the turbo boost up to 25psi without detonating. Fun times.)

    I think the recession will actually spur growth in alternative fuels, for two main reasons:

    1. The dollar is worth less, which makes oil more expensive than it "should be";

    2. Labor is cheap and getting cheaper, which makes it easy to hire people to work in cellulose mills and algae farms.

    I think the next five years will see alternative fuels take off the way wind power took off in the past five years.
     

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