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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am very interested in the new powertrain technology, esp the gas/electric hybrids. It's the 21'st century, for cryin' out loud, and it's about time the vehicles were catching up. I am also somewhat of a conservationist, not necessarily to save the earth (although that's a good enough reason) but because I like efficiency in the engineering sort-of-way. And just think of all the wasted solar energy that hits the earth every day.

I have test-driven both Honda hybrids for curiosity's sake. The Insight is cool and futuristic, (it's all aluminum- you can lift the hood with your pinkie) but too small and impractical for my needs. Drove like regular car, with adequate power, I thought, with the manual shifter. The Civic, with CVT, was SLOOOW...scary slow. I personally would not want to drive it daily.

I'm not a fan of the styling of the current Prius, but the new one will look something like this:


That's alot better, and it's supposed to avg around 50 mpg. It is supposed to be out this fall. More info available at toyota.com.

:p
 

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Betamax.

From my engineering perspective, the concept of doubling the complexity of a system (two motors) without increasing the services provided is ridiculous. These are short term intermediate solutions that are very complex and expensive.. I'd hate to own a 5 year old one.

Why not just get a diesel?
 

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Its the oil companies. Almost entirely.
 

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all the major auto companies will have mainstream hybrid autos out by MY 2005. I believe 2006 is the year of low sulfur Diesel. Both those reasons are why I was thinking about leasing our next car (this summer) for 3 years instead of buying.

That said, I've done considerable math, and hybrids and Diesels now are a waste of the extra money they cost. In most cases, a "fuel miser" car is $1500 - 3000 more than the relative 4 cyl. It would take three 15,000 mile years of $5 per gallon gas to break even, and obviously longer with current gas prices (assuming a 10 MPG gain). I think their failure to catch on to-date is because a tightwad wanting to save money cannot do it with an efficient car. People are buying these out of consciousness about pollution, or they haven't worked out the figures.

Excusing the raw numbers, I'd lean much more towards Diesels than Hybrids for a few reasons. (a) VW is the only Diesel choice in N.A. :wink: (b) more HP, especially with TDI-PD coming and low-sulfur on the way (c) lower maintenance costs. Especially C - hybrids are relatively new technology and you do have to replace the batteries between 50k and 80k (although I'll admit Toyota and Honda will replace them under warranty until 80k).

I do think eventually gas will become scarce - when, who knows. Hybrids and fuel cells will have their time. It ain't anytime soon. They need to get cheaper and more powerful. As for Diesel, its time may have finally come for the US. Assuming after 2006 othe European manufacturers bring over their Diesels along with VW, you could see alot of affordable, powerful options with decent gas mileage. The V10 and possible V6 Touareg TDI's being a good example.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Macabre said:
Betamax.

From my engineering perspective, the concept of doubling the complexity of a system (two motors) without increasing the services provided is ridiculous. These are short term intermediate solutions that are very complex and expensive.. I'd hate to own a 5 year old one.

Why not just get a diesel?
Diesel? Not for me. Even worse (much worse) polluters than straight gas-power, and this includes factoring in better mileage. And the sound, and smell, etc....Good for dragging stuff around, though.

I am not primarily interested in gas mileage, but in something different from what we have now. Regarding dismissing hybrids as "ridiculous" , the hybrid systems, esp Honda's, are relatively simple. The only complexity involved is the computer control, and that's not really a maintenance issue.

It's the idealist in me, I guess. I like getting more from less. That's why I like the turbocharger concept. You get the extra power only when you need it, and the rest of the time it is an efficient smaller engine. You don't have a bunch of extra cylinders or displacement wasting fuel just cruising at highway speed, etc. That's also the concept with the hybrids, but in a different form.



:p
 

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Holicow said:
Diesel? Not for me. Even worse (much worse) polluters than straight gas-power, and this includes factoring in better mileage. And the sound, and smell, etc....Good for dragging stuff around, though.




:p
Obviouly, you are unfamiliar with a VW TDI, whether its our ancient 90hp ALH TDI engine ot the newer, up to 150hp 4 cylinders.
FWIW, you can mince the pollution regs all day. IMO, a diesel does produce less, when you consider the extra energy needed to refine gas over diesel, and how much less fuel a diesel uses. You know, Europe is so much smarter than US on many fronts (almost 50% of all new cars there this year will be diesels).

that being said, for a 50 mpg Beetle, I'd love to find anyone who can't drive this car up and down hills without a HUGE smile on their face. Ask Elias (if he chimes in..)

My chipped TDI is quiet, extraordinarily smooth, powerful and fuel efficient. A great combination. Too bad they don't offer it in anything bigger than a Jetta. And I'm not banking on a Passat to show up, either.
 

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TDIBUGMAN said:
My chipped TDI is quiet, extraordinarily smooth, powerful and fuel efficient. A great combination. Too bad they don't offer it in anything bigger than a Jetta. And I'm not banking on a Passat to show up, either.
Visit your VW dealer in November/December. My salesman informed me that if we wanted a TDI Passat, while they cannot place an order yet, we would be 4th on the waiting list.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
TDIBUGMAN said:
You know, Europe is so much smarter than US on many fronts (almost 50% of all new cars there this year will be diesels).
I agree, generally. As mentioned elsewhere above, diesel is much cleaner in Europe than here. But still, it is much more polluting. Lower sulfur will reduce sulfur dioxide emission (acid rain) but diesel will still produce particulates which are harmful. By the way, did you know the prevalence of asthma is increasing in Europe, and that many attribute this to the increasing use of diesels?

Hey, I am no tree hugger. If folks want diesels, great. If they want to drive Hummers, and monster SUV's, that's their choice. I don't like them, personally, but everyone should have a choice. I won't lose sleep over it. And i certainly don't mean to offend anyone choosing these.

I just think it's cool that hybrids use 21st century technology to be more efficient. It's like a new toy. And, if I use less of the world for my daily life, that's all I want. Driving a cool car is just icing.

:p
 

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The tax credit is for 100% electric vehicles. You get a tax deduction (big difference depending on your tax bracket) for a hybrid. The tax deduction gets smaller each year too, to reward early adopters. In most cases, however, the realized tax break is about $600 - $700.
 

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I assumed that because the Prius is powered primarily by an electric motor, that it qualified for the electric vehicle credit. Also, I don't know if the legislation ever passed, but there was proposed legislation that would defer the credit and deduction phaseouts.
 

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Holicow said:
By the way, did you know the prevalence of asthma is increasing in Europe, and that many attribute this to the increasing use of diesels?
And the increase in asthma reported in this country is due to...? Can't be diesels, so I wonder if the European guess is off base? There's a train of thought that as societies become more affluent and "sterile" and less agrarian, more cases of asthma develop.

I saw an article on DW-TV (Deutsche Welle - Voice of Germany) on late night cable a few months ago on this very topic. Children growing up on farms in Germany have fewer cases of asthma than kids growing up in German cities. The premise was that city kids are immunologically unchallenged due to their sterile surroundings, resulting in asthma developing later to lower levels of irritants.

Ah, the things you learn when during bouts of sleeplessness!
 

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b5driver said:
I assumed that because the Prius is powered primarily by an electric motor, that it qualified for the electric vehicle credit. Also, I don't know if the legislation ever passed, but there was proposed legislation that would defer the credit and deduction phaseouts.
I think it's debatable whether it's powered "primarily" by an electric motor. From reading at Toyota's marketing babble, when high speed cruising it's powered by the gasser only, and from a standing start it's powered by the electric only. Both are used for high-load situations like hills and heavy acceleration.

Regardless, according to Toyota it does qualify for a tax credit up to $2000: http://www.toyota.com/html/shop/vehicles/prius/prius_tax.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Macabre said:
Regardless, according to Toyota it does qualify for a tax credit up to $2000: http://www.toyota.com/html/shop/vehicles/prius/prius_tax.html
Just a clarification: It qualifies for up to $2000 federal income tax deduction. There are some states where hybrids qualify for state income tax credits (subtracted from tax due).

An additional bennie: Some states (but not CA) let hybrids use the HOV lanes! This includes DC area. That's interesting.

:p
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Macabre said:
From my engineering perspective, the concept of doubling the complexity of a system (two motors) without increasing the services provided is ridiculous.
Just a counterpoint tidbit i found:

According to Edmund's, the Society of Automotive Engineers name it the "Best Engineered Car of 2001"....
 

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Again, I agree with Mac.

It is better to live by the KISS principle. From an engineering standpoint it makes sense to simplify systems. Takes less design time. Less construction time (and cost). Less parts to fail. Less loss in engergy due to interfaces amongst systems.... etc.. etc...

Which is why Hybrid cars will not be around for the long term. The manufacturers also want to keep it simple. Keeps their costs down. Which is why technology such as fuel cells will continue to be researched.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Macabre said:
I suppose I'm just a fan of elegant engineering solutions. Making a design extremely complex to solve a problem doesn't impress me very much.
I agree that simple is generally desirable, but exactly what "problem" are we trying to solve, here?

If all you want is something that moves, then fine; use the cheapest, simplest method you can. If you want something that utilizes 21'st century technology to do it more efficiently and with minimized impact on the environment, you may have to expand your mind a little.

To the folks that continue to be under the impression that hybrids are some kind of super-complicated mechano-electrical monster: you simply (pun intended) haven't taken the time to check them out. You will be surprised how mechanically simple they are. It is as simple as a battery-powered electric motor. The only real added "complexity" lies in the power management sofware, and that's just computer stuff. (this is where the 21'st century really kicks in)

Judged against the total complexity of current cars, it is not such a big deal... W-8? AWD? adjustable damping? GPS navigation systems? Variable valve lift/timing? Pretty complex stuff there. Adding an electric motor to actually help move the car suddenly seems trivial.

i guess we could agree to disagree?

:p
 

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I imagine it's a normal car, but with an added electric motor, electric generator, computer control system, circuitry to stop/start the engine automatically as necessary, and probably some other stuff I don't know of. That is a lot of junk. There's a reason a car with fewer features than a civic costs nearly twice as much and they're still losing money on the sale.

AFAIK, the problem we're trying to solve is increased fuel economy and reduced emissions. I believe nearly doubling the complexity of the vehicle to achieve a marginal improvement in that problem is ridiculous. I say marginal referencing the Hybrid Civic vs. pure gasser Civic only offering a 25% improvement in overall fuel economy (for an additional 35% cost). Emissions figures are not handy but I see no reason to believe the difference would be any larger. Obviously the Insight does better but the comparison to pure gas powered micro-cars is similar.

This is just my opinion, and my method of perceiving technology. The Hybrids are not revolutions (or even evolutions) in technology, they're combining existing systems in obvious ways that just haven't been done before because it's been the cost and reliability hits are far too high. It's still not a feasible solution but government pressure has forced them to do it anyways. We'll see hybrids for a few years 'till a real technological advance is made and that will be it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Macabre said:
I imagine it's a normal car, but with an added electric motor, electric generator, computer control system, circuitry to stop/start the engine automatically as necessary, and probably some other stuff I don't know of. That is a lot of junk.
Yep, the same "junk" that is in your car right now: a starter motor, a battery, and a computer. The Honda IMA uses the motor as a starter. The computer simply switches the IMA from motor to generator by reversing the circuit as necessary.

There's a reason a car with fewer features than a civic costs nearly twice as much and they're still losing money on the sale.
The Honda Civic Hybrid lists for about $20K and is equipped approximately to the level of the EX, listing at about $18K or so. Hardly "twice" the price. The Prius doesn't have a comparable, non-Hybrid model, but costs the same as a Civic Hybrid.

Yes, Honda is losing money so far on their Hybrids, but that's our benefit. And we all should understand that price of production will fall with time and volume.

Toyota broke even with the Prius long ago. They've been selling it in Japan since '97.

I believe nearly doubling the complexity of the vehicle to achieve a marginal improvement in that problem is ridiculous.
I am not sure how you calculate "double the complexity" just because there are 2 sources of power. Check it out and you will see. If you don't want to, that's fine, but maybe you will just take it from someone who has.

they're combining existing systems in obvious ways that just haven't been done before because it's been the cost and reliability hits are far too high.
Yes, that's because battery and computer technology has finally reached a point where this can be done. As far as reliability, you are way off. These cars have proven to be at least as reliable as any other.

**WARNING** QUOTE LIMIT EXCEEDED**

Well, time to hug a tree (or maybe a computer, or a fuel cell). Nothing more to see here.


:p
 
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