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GM announces hybrids
January 6, 2003 10:28 AM   Subscribe

GM announces plans to roll out gas/electric hybrid cars for consumers in the next four years -- including pickup trucks and SUVs. Plus a brief discussion of ways to get the general populace to buy hybrid... apparently tax breaks are being mooted? Interesting. The cost increase / gas savings breakdown still isn't as impressive as one might like it to be, though... would you give one a try?
posted by logovisual (24 comments total)

 
The way to get the public to buy a hybrid is make one that looks like a real car. Honda is the only carmaker I know of whose hybrid model isn't some strange quasi-futuristic looking thing.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 10:40 AM on January 6, 2003


Yes, the tax breaks are moot - or rather, they make the increased price of the cars moot. The federal and state credits for buying a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle in California are almost exactly the same as the difference in price between, for example, a Civic hybrid and a regular gas-burning Civic.

One of the mysteries of the universe - just like how the property tax and insurance assessments always end up being exactly what you paid for the house.
posted by luriete at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2003


GM also plans to introduce a $250,000 Cadillac with a V-16, 1000 HP engine. It will consume all of the gas saved by the Hybrids.

I was intrigued by this company when their cars paced the Peachtree Road Race, but I have yet to see one in Atlanta.

I'm holding out for one of these Volkswagens.
posted by Frank Grimes at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2003


The cost increase / gas savings breakdown still isn't as impressive as one might like it to be

Large scale production of the expensive hybrid components will help reduce their price. This is one of the big goals of Toyota's plan to use hybrid engines in all their vehicles by 2012.

The next step I'd like to see is putting the electric motors right on the axles/wheels. If done correctly, this would eliminate the need for transmissions and differentials. Less moving parts means less things to break, and less oil used for lubrication.
posted by jsonic at 10:49 AM on January 6, 2003


Anybody know what federal policy is for buying vehicles? It seems like a big step toward making the vehicles more mainstream and bringing down costs is if government agencies mandated that a certain percentage of vehicles purchased (or even all of them) have to be hybrids.
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:57 AM on January 6, 2003


Honda is the only carmaker I know of whose hybrid model isn't some strange quasi-futuristic looking thing

I just bought a Honda Insight last week and frankly liked the fact that it was strange and quasi futuristic, or maybe it was quasi nostalgic as the rear wheel wells are remiscent of an old Citroen

This is the first car I've owned in the 10 years since I moved out of CA and it was the only car I wound up feeling good about buying--I expect to not have to put gas in the tank until February, I qualified for a $2000 federal tax deduction, and the emissions footprint is tiny. It's also incredibly confortable to drive.
posted by donovan at 11:02 AM on January 6, 2003


I didn't read the whole VW thing, but from what I remember from seeing it before, it runs on hydrogen? Not exactly the best option for people needing to shuttle around their mini-litters of children though, considering it looks cramped for one person.

I'm seriously considering the hybrid when my current car bites the dust, probably next year.

Less moving parts means less things to break, and less oil used for lubrication.

. . . means more resistance from the auto industry.
posted by archimago at 11:16 AM on January 6, 2003


Now all we have to do is get rid of tax breaks for the biggest cars.
posted by benjh at 11:44 AM on January 6, 2003


Less moving parts means less things to break, and less oil used for lubrication.

. . . means more resistance from the auto industry.


Actually it means more resistance from the oil industry, if anyone. But willingness to go ahead with the hybrids shows that U.S. automakers are more afraid of losing to the Japanese, who are leading the way with hybrids.

Anyway, the auto industry likes things to not break, at least during the warranty period, because they pay for fixing them. I test-drove some cars yesterday and the Mitsubishi dealer told me that the average warranty repair cost for the Lancer during 2002 was $14 -- the lowest ever. That's pretty impressive.
posted by kindall at 11:48 AM on January 6, 2003


I hate the BS about hybrid cars using two energy sources. They don't. All the energy comes from the gas, period. Hybrids are a marginally more efficient means of extracting energy from gasoline. I like the projected cumulative savings of $1,500 over the entire drivable lifetime of a the car. I'm supposed to think that carrying around hundreds of pounds of toxic heavy metals to achieve savings of $100 a year is a revolutionary idea?

P.S.
The Toyota thing is false. The original report was due to miscommunication, and Toyota issued a clarification that basically said "Uh, no."
posted by NortonDC at 1:47 PM on January 6, 2003


All the energy comes from the gas, period

True, but hybrids use the gas energy much more efficiently through re-generative breaking. A non-hybrid throws away all the energy it spent to get up to speed when it stops for the next light. A hybrid maintains this energy by using the motor as a generator when breaking. It then uses this stored energy when accelerating again, thus increasing the overall efficiently of the system.

Hybrids are a marginally more efficient means of extracting energy from gasoline

Hybrids don't necessarily extract energy more efficiently, they simply use the energy they do extract more efficiently.
posted by jsonic at 2:17 PM on January 6, 2003


thus increasing the overall efficiently of the system

efficiency that is.
posted by jsonic at 2:19 PM on January 6, 2003


I hate the BS about hybrid cars using two energy sources. They don't. All the energy comes from the gas, period.

True, but as jsonic noted, they use this energy much more efficiently and the availability of the battery cells, which charge when braking or coasting, means that the car can utilize a smaller engine (getting a power boost assist from the batteries) as well as do things like turn off the gas engine when I'm stopped in traffic. The result is not just much less gas used, but much reduced emissions.
posted by donovan at 2:54 PM on January 6, 2003


And here's ExxonMobil's supportive view on hybrids. (Requires Adobe reader.) Fuel cells will eventually compete (or be used with) standard hybrids as well.

Disclosure - I work for ExxonMobil, but not in this area. They are putting their money ($100 Million for Stanford) where their mouth is - engaging in the debate instead of sitting apart from it.
posted by ozjohn at 4:39 PM on January 6, 2003


Actually, didn't the tax benefit for buying these cars disappear with the end of 2002? That's what the Honda sales rep told me in October.
posted by Qubit at 4:40 PM on January 6, 2003


I own a Civic Hybrid. We bought that one because it looks like a regular car (except for saying "Hybrid" on the butt). It has no more hassle than a regular car (which is important to me) and it significantly reduces the cost of my regular trips to LA (purchased the car in May and already have 25,000 miles on it), over my previous car. That car (a Festiva) was pretty efficient but used 3.5 tanks of gas on that drive. This one uses less than two.

Also, the regular maintenance is less. An oil change is recommended every 10,000 miles rather than every 3,000.

Though, zero emission is preferable, I think hybrid is a good intermediate step. I still wouldn't encourage anybody to buy a hybrid SUV unless they do something requiring that type of vehicle, but if they're going to exist, we might as well make them as efficient as possible.

We got one of the first one's off the boat from Japan and paid only about $1,000 more than the equivelant standard Civic.
posted by obfusciatrist at 5:46 PM on January 6, 2003


I personally dont' have a hybrid, but my friend has a Honda one and it is fantastic. it's fun to drive, and i can still beat people off the line with it. I'm definitely in line to buy one next time around.
posted by Like the Reef at 6:04 PM on January 6, 2003


Honda is the only carmaker I know of whose hybrid model isn't some strange quasi-futuristic looking thing

I think the Toyota Prius looks like a normal car.
posted by moonbiter at 9:01 PM on January 6, 2003


quasi-futuristic looking thing.

The Prius looks like an echo.

And all these new-fangled cars look far different from the Ford model A. What metric are you using for 'quasi-future'?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:08 PM on January 6, 2003


Cubit wrote: Actually, didn't the tax benefit for buying these cars disappear with the end of 2002? That's what the Honda sales rep told me in October

Short answer: no

IRS rules are discussed in Publication 535 most relevant portion:

"Maximum clean-fuel vehicle deduction. The maximum deduction you can claim for qualified clean-fuel vehicle property placed in service in calendar year 2002 is one of the following.

$1,500 for a vehicle not included in (1), (2), or (3) [AKA "a car"]
The deduction will be phased out completely by 2005.
Qualified electric vehicle credit. The credit for a qualified electric vehicle placed in service in calendar year 2002 will be reduced by 25% after you apply the $4,000 limit. The credit will be phased out completely by 2005."

posted by donovan at 9:29 PM on January 6, 2003


I hate the BS about hybrid cars using two energy sources. They don't. All the energy comes from the gas, period.

This is not necessarily true. The Toyota, for instance, uses batteries to power the engines up to 12 mph before kicking in the gas. The next generation Ford vehicles are set to use hybrid power that would turn off the engine completely when stopped, running lights, sound, air conditioning, etc., off of batteries until the car needs to accelerate again.

There are a few more examples I could cite, but claims that hybrids use all gas, all the time, are just not true.
posted by dogmatic at 3:19 AM on January 7, 2003


dogmatic - All that electricity was generated by burning the gas from the gas tank. All the energy comes from the gas, all of it.
posted by NortonDC at 3:48 AM on January 7, 2003


NortonDC - All the energy was generated from the gas, true. But your earlier statement is misleading, because it makes it sound as though these vehicles are using gas-as-energy all the time. Which they quite clearly aren't.
posted by dogmatic at 4:45 AM on January 7, 2003


No, it's perfectly accurate and plain. All the energy comes from the gas.
posted by NortonDC at 1:04 PM on January 7, 2003


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