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Hybrid Cars: Cash vs. Conscience October 22, 2005 4:10 PM

http://www.womenswallstreet.com/columns/column.aspx?aid=1002 Dear Jane: It's time for me to buy a new car. Money is somewhat of a factor (two kids headed for college in the next few years), but I must say, in today's world, maybe saving cash should take a back seat to acting with conscience. Should I go hybrid? I've read that dollar for dollar at the pump, you don't actually save as much money as you'd think you might. What's your take? -- Cash vs. Conscience Dear Cash vs. Conscience, Some auto pundits declare that in many hybrid vs. non-hybrid comparisons, it could take you many years of saving at the pump to make back the money you'd spend up front for a hybrid version of the car. At least with the Honda Accord and the Ford Escape statistics at Edmunds.com support this conclusion. But let's jump ship, er, jump auto, and discuss the Toyota Prius -- which is only available as a hybrid. The Prius is so hot right now, dealers report that an average Prius leaves the lot headed for a new driveway less than 20 hours after it arrives at the dealership. (Just how long other cars remain on the lots is usually not released.) Design-wise, the car is straight out of a Stanley Kubrick film, resplendent the extra-cool bonus of having Bluetooth technology. This "forward-thinking" car kicks butt on fuel economy with drivers reporting averages of 50 miles per gallon. According to the US Department of Energy, the Prius reduces regulated tailpipe emissions by up to 90 percent and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 50 percent (compared with other cars). Across the nation Prius drivers who travel solo are finding themselves welcome in their state's car-pool lane. If those aren't incentives enough, how about a Federal tax deduction that could exceed $3,000? (As of January 1, 2006.) The Prius costs $21,275 (MRP) and its company tagline reads: "So advanced, it makes the future seem obsolete." At that price, and with those benefits, its tagline should be: "So advanced, it makes Saudi Arabia seem obsolete." If you're in the market for a car and if you can afford the Prius price, I say head for the dealership. Your kids will love it, and they just might have a planet to inherit -- which beats all things. -- Jane Dough  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
My Echo has the same chassis as a Prius and is $10K less October 30, 2005 4:01 PM

When I bought my 2001 Echo with a MSRP of 14K and change, the Prius was about $10,00.00 higher. At that time, I could not test drive one but was supposed to put down several thousand dollars and wait tour months. I said no thanks. I asked three Toyota dealers how much the replacement battery is for the Prius and they all played dumb. The replacement battery for the hybrid Prius is I believe about $8000, not exactly a big selling point. I get 40 to 44 MGP on the highway with my Echo and I am very happy with my decision. When hybrids come down in price, then I am intersted.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 October 31, 2005 10:53 AM

Thanks for the info, Dan. The ford focus is a nice alternative for those of use who can't afford the prius or any other hybrid. Right now I am driving a cheap car but it should last us 8 years, so by the time I am in the market again to buy, there will hopefully be something in my price range. As far as the price of the battery replacement, I can't even afford to pay that much for a car! I guess I won't own a hybrid for awhile, but some day the price will be less (I hope).  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 October 31, 2005 11:36 AM

Personally, I'm of two minds. I bought a 2005 Prius. I love my car to death :) And I've already put 35K+ mi on her since Jan 2005, and I'm really thankful that I did purchase her (even thought it was a major ouch in the pocket). A friend and i were talking and they said that they were going to wait for a few years, until all of the kinks were worked out of the system, as it were (i.e. the Hybrid recalls). And hopefully, at that point in time, they will significantly come down in price. Of course, there are still other cars that are out there, that while they're not getting the same MPG as hybrids, it's still pretty damn good. My 2000 Honda Civic (120K+) is still averaging around 30 MPG. And if you can pick them up used, they'll be much cheaper. :) Just my $0.02  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Prius battery October 31, 2005 2:07 PM

There seems to be some conflicting information out there about the cost of the battery. Dan says $8000, I've heard higher and lower - anywhere from $3000 to $10,000. http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/index.php?page=business&story_id=070604b4_techs I did see a couple of battery assemblies from wrecked Prius's in the $100-$500 range with bidding still open. How often does this battery need to be changed? They're warrantied for I think 100,000 mi. I agree with Dan about the Echo. We have a friend who bought one and is pleased with it.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
About the cost of the Prius man electric battery October 31, 2005 3:40 PM

If the price was $3000 to $5000, I am sure that the three different Toyota dealers I spoke to would have mentioned the price. They did not divulge the price as the cost is sufficient to turn buyers away from a car with such a high incidental cost after purchasing a new automobile. If the $8000 is not correct or exact, then the price is most certainly over $5000. Happy Camper Dan  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
HiGasPrices October 31, 2005 3:44 PM

Please join my forum on Care2Conect, HiGasPrices This HiGasPrices forum is a good mix with the hybrid energy auto issue. After all, even the hybrids do use gasoline and yes, prices of gas are certainly high. Thank you. Sincerely, Dan  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Clearing some misconceptions November 10, 2005 4:37 PM

Dan S., I feel obliged to clear up some misconceptions you seem to have. First, the Echo and the Prius never shared the same chassis. A quick look at the wheelbase and other measurement specs will show this. My ex-girlfriend has an Echo, so I have driven both the older Prius (which I have) and the Echo. They are *very* different cars, no comparison. I am very glad you are getting such good gas mileage with your Echo. I can almost guarantee that if you drove a Prius in an identical manner, you would do even better. My ex's mileage is consistently several mpg worse than mine, even though she drives a more fuel-efficient commute to her work. And we both keep accurate spreadsheets of our mileage. The cost of replacing the NiMH battery in the Prius is a non-issue, unless some freak accident occurs. It is designed to last the life of the car. Please don't fall into the trap of thinking it will die the moment the warranty runs out. This didn't happen with the Mars rovers (they had a 90-day "warranty"). And as for the cost/benefit analysis goes, there are plenty of other concerns besides gasoline prices that will significantly affect the equation. The Prius lacks some of the complex machinery that often needs repair in normal cars (e.g. no starter, an award-winning "transmission" that is elegant simplicity), but other parts may be expensive to replace. Also, how do you measure the cost savings of cleaner air? For it's size, the Echo is a bad smogger, especially when started or driven when the engine is cold. The Prius is designed not to get the best mileage it can, but to produce the least amount of pollution. What is that worth to you? For me, it was a no-brainer, I had to act on my conscience. Of course, "your mileage may vary." Cheers, Phil K.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
If a Prius battery lasts a lifetime, I sincerely doubt that hype November 10, 2005 7:02 PM

All batteries, like life, have an expiration date. I happen to have two friends with post doc work in batteries so I will ask them. As for an Echo being a gross polluter, what are you smoking? My Echo is a CA car with the strictest emissions in the country. I would like to see your scientific data! I will buy a hybrid when the "premium" disappears as I don't want or need that marginal cost in any vehicle. If you know so much, what is the exact replacement cost of a battery for a Prius?  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
Re: If a Prius battery lasts a lifetime... November 11, 2005 3:47 PM

Hi Dan S., I spent several years on the Yahoo Prius group before it got too big to keep up with it. What I mentioned about the Prius is the collected wisdom I have gleaned from that group. I didn't say the NiMH battery lasts a lifetime, but for the expected life of the rest of the car. The computers in the Prius maintain battery charge level to extend its life for as long as possible. No, sorry, I don't have any inside knowledge of the cost to replace the entire NiHM battery. I am not concerned about it. I am more concerned about a front end collision that might damage the inverter, motors, or other hybrid components. I think that is more likely to be a serious financial burden. As for the Echo's emissions, I am too busy to go research this all over again, but I am confident that in most states it was designed to meet the Tier III standards set by the US govt at that time. Those are for fully warmed up cars, with the catalytic converter at max efficiency. I have smelled the exhaust of a cold Echo and my nose tells me it stinks. My Prius has no odor on startup, and has advanced technology to greatly reduce pollution when the engine is cold. Cheers from the stinky state of Texas, Phil K.  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
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