T Nation

Hybrid/Efficient Vehicle?

So, my commute is now and will continue to be LONG and I’m gonna get a hybrid or just an efficient car. I’ve heard good things about the Camry Hybrid and also the Mini Cooper Base (not a hybrid but gets good mpg).

Anyone have any input on any of the other efficient vehicles? Love 'em or hate 'em??

Thanks

When I changed my car last year, I looked a bit at hybrids, and I wasn’t impressed. Maybe they’ve improved since, but the only “plus” back then was that they used less gas. Cost-wise, the eventual costs of replacing the batteries would drown out any savings, not to mention the environmental costs of producing and disposing of those batteries.

IMHO, the most environmental friendly choice is diesel. They’ve got tons of diesel powered cars in Europe, but here, our best bets seems to be the various TDI models from Volkswagen. Those cars will use less fuel than conventional cars and won’t require any special maintenance to overhaul the batteries in 5 years.

That was a bit over a year ago. Maybe the technology has improved since…

Buy a cheap compact car that gets good mileage. It will cost far less than a hybrid. I would bet it costs far less over the lifetime of the car.

Gas has to get a lot more expensive to justify a hybrid over a compact.

I bought an Xterra about a year ago, but I really considered a hybrid SUV or sedan. I did a lot of research into them. First decide why you want a hybrid - is it for concern for the environment or for the gas savings?

If it�??s an environmental concern, that is one thing, but if you think that the gas mileage is going to save you money, look at other cars. A cheaper car with worse gas mileage is probably going to be cheaper than an expensive hybrid �?? you have to own a hybrid for quite a while to justify the high up-front cost with gas savings.

Any car you buy today is going to be a bad investment. You need to run numbers and compare costs of owning different cars over their lives (or however long you are going to keep it). Don’t just look at how much money you are going to save from gas. Granted, if your commute is long, gas may be a bigger part of the vehicle’s operating cost, but there are lots of factors that come in besides gas �?? look at maintenance and repair costs, too.

I think edumunds.com has a comparison tool to show you how different cars stack up in terms of operating costs. My Xterra, because I got a good deal on the initial sticker price, was going to be significantly cheaper than any hybrid in the long run, even when you account for the Xterra�??s bad gas mileage.

I think this is true with lots of cars �?? the hybrid just can�??t be justified economically, only environmentally (and even then, I have heard rumors that the batteries aren�??t great for the environment, either).

Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Buy a cheap compact car that gets good mileage. It will cost far less than a hybrid. I would bet it costs far less over the lifetime of the car.

[/quote]

That’s what I would recommend, something like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. And like Pookie said, the cost to replace the battery will cancel out any gas cost savings.

I’ve heard even regular maintenance on hybrid vehicles is more expensive than a non-hybrid car, because you have to take it to a specialized, certified mechanic (usually at the dealership, which will be expensive anyway), so any money you save on gas is made up through maintenance.

Echoing what everyone else has said, get an inexpensive USED compact car, and avoid hybrids. In addition to it being more cost effective for you to buy a small car other than a hybrid, here is an article indicating that hybrids are overall more energy costly than regular cars. This mean that driving a hybrid is actually going to use MORE energy over the entire lifetime than driving a regular car.

http://www.caranddriver.com/dailyautoinsider/10871/doubts-cast-on-hybrid-efficiency.htm

Someone else mention the VW TDI’s. I am considering buying one of these myself. Great gas mileage, less cost, etc. Diesel has been more expensive than gasoline around here for a long time, but with the recent rise in gasoline cost, diesel is actually cheaper! Another advantage of a diesel is that it could be converted to Bio-Diesel as our fossil fuels dry up. Fuel for thought!

Thanks,
I will look at what you all said. I know one person with a camry hybrid who claims incredible mileage and that’s what I’m looking for. My current commute is very long one way and it will stay that way for some time. With the type of car I’m getting I won’t be paying interest so that isn’t an issue. I need a reliable car and so the civics sound good. I may actually go with the cooper which seems to get good mileage and is not a hybrid. I’m not sure of the cooper reliability though.

Diesel is a good fuel but I find it’s not at many stations near me. My father always had diesel vehicles and sometimes it was a pain finding stations with it.

[quote]Chewie wrote:
Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car. [/quote]

True statement.

[quote]tmoney1 wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Buy a cheap compact car that gets good mileage. It will cost far less than a hybrid. I would bet it costs far less over the lifetime of the car.

That’s what I would recommend, something like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. And like Pookie said, the cost to replace the battery will cancel out any gas cost savings.

I’ve heard even regular maintenance on hybrid vehicles is more expensive than a non-hybrid car, because you have to take it to a specialized, certified mechanic (usually at the dealership, which will be expensive anyway), so any money you save on gas is made up through maintenance.[/quote]

I agree. My girlfriend recently had the same dilemma. Problem with the hybrids are the dealers/manufacturers price them at a premium so part of what you save on gas is being given back to in the purchase price plus there are a lot of questions about the long term reliability and maintenance costs of hybrid engines.

She ended up buying a mini cooper. It’s a tiny car but gets just as good of gas mileage as some of the hybrids.

The average car consumes 30% of all the energy it will use in it lifetime just in the manufacturing. That is to say before the car is even driven. Hybrids are even more costly to manufacture. In fact, the average energy consumption from dust to dirt is higher than a regular car. So for those of you thinking about the environment, think twice before buying a hybrid.

I believe that this will change as hybrids move into later generations of development, but for now regular car are actually better for the environment than hybrids.

In July of last year I bought a Civic EX Sedan w/manual after test driving a Prius(wife insisted). The ride and performance of the Civic was worlds better. After 15k I'm getting 31city/41hwy. On the highway I go anywhere between 5-15mph over the limit. It's a good ride for it's size. Nice stereo, good seats, lots of storage and the rear seats fold down (moved an eight foot ladder, trunk lid to front windshield).

In an article from Consumer Reports they stated that a hybrid(Prius) would have to be driven 144k miles to justify the cost of the hybrid option vs. non-hybrid Camry. That being said, the Asian manufactures are in the process of allowing a plug-in option on the hybrids.

This will allow you to run on the battery for the first 75miles. The battery argument isn’t as black and white as people think. The hybrid battery, ANY BATTERY, just doesn’t just go out. It slowly looses it ability to hold a charge. In five years you might loose 50-75 miles.
I say: small,foreign, and used. Keep us posted.
Phileaux

Get a diesel jetta and make your own biodiesel. It takes some starting materials but it’s worth it financially. Oh and you don’t have to be a bitch to the oil companies.

I like trucks myself. I hope renewable fuels are developed before hybrids and their ridiculous body styles change the auto market for good.

I’d buy a truck running on vegetable oil much sooner than i’d take a retarded looking honda hybrid running on a battery and reduced fuel amounts.

[quote]Chewie wrote:
Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car. [/quote]

Unless you buy the used car outright, you are also paying interest but on an already depreciated item that is depreciating further.

[quote]texasguy1 wrote:
Chewie wrote:
Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car.

Unless you buy the used car outright, you are also paying interest but on an already depreciated item that is depreciating further.

[/quote]
It will not depreciate beyond the salvage value. Therefore, if you buy one close to salvage, you are losing less.

You did make a valid pint, though.

[quote]Chewie wrote:
texasguy1 wrote:
Chewie wrote:
Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car.

Unless you buy the used car outright, you are also paying interest but on an already depreciated item that is depreciating further.

It will not depreciate beyond the salvage value. Therefore, if you buy one close to salvage, you are losing less.

You did make a valid pint, though.

[/quote]
This is true.

I incorrectly assumed that if a discussion about purchasing a vehicle was taking place, the purchaser would go significantly above salvage value.

[quote]texasguy1 wrote:
I like trucks myself. I hope renewable fuels are developed before hybrids and their ridiculous body styles change the auto market for good.

I’d buy a truck running on vegetable oil much sooner than i’d take a retarded looking honda hybrid running on a battery and reduced fuel amounts. [/quote]

Ha…You could check out one of these then

http://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/car/371081291.html

[quote]texasguy1 wrote:
Chewie wrote:
texasguy1 wrote:
Chewie wrote:
Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car.

Unless you buy the used car outright, you are also paying interest but on an already depreciated item that is depreciating further.

It will not depreciate beyond the salvage value. Therefore, if you buy one close to salvage, you are losing less.

You did make a valid pint, though.

This is true.

I incorrectly assumed that if a discussion about purchasing a vehicle was taking place, the purchaser would go significantly above salvage value.
[/quote]

Both good points, but two things I would offer:

  • If the car is close to salvage, you begin to run into the issues of maintenance and upkeep on an older vehicle which could very well defeat the cost savings you hope to achieve.

  • Unless I am horribly mistaken, the fastest depreciation occurs early on with most new cars.

I like the idea of used cars, but not something that is almost to the point of being worthless. I guess I am only willing to go so far on cost savings…

[quote]Kuz wrote:
texasguy1 wrote:
Chewie wrote:
texasguy1 wrote:
Chewie wrote:
Buying a new car is a terrible financial move. You are paying interest on something that depreciates.

Buy a used car.

Unless you buy the used car outright, you are also paying interest but on an already depreciated item that is depreciating further.

It will not depreciate beyond the salvage value. Therefore, if you buy one close to salvage, you are losing less.

You did make a valid pint, though.

This is true.

I incorrectly assumed that if a discussion about purchasing a vehicle was taking place, the purchaser would go significantly above salvage value.

Both good points, but two things I would offer:

  • If the car is close to salvage, you begin to run into the issues of maintenance and upkeep on an older vehicle which could very well defeat the cost savings you hope to achieve.

  • Unless I am horribly mistaken, the fastest depreciation occurs early on with most new cars.

I like the idea of used cars, but not something that is almost to the point of being worthless. I guess I am only willing to go so far on cost savings…[/quote]

upkeep is a good point.

with a new car you at least know where it has been. I’d gladly spend a few thousand more and be confident that my vehicle has been well kept. Buying used can wind up costing more than new if you factor in maintenance, years of usability et cetera.

not that buying used is all bad. it may be a good idea to buy a warranty on a used car if one is offered however.

has the OP considered a motorcycle? they are excellent on gas mileage and way cooler than a honda to boot.