Global Warming

Green to be Seen

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The Times wonders why the Toyota Prius is so much more successful than its hybrid competitors:

A riddle: Why has the Toyota Prius enjoyed such success, with sales of more than 400,000 in the United States, when most other hybrid models struggle to find buyer. One answer may be that buyers of the Prius want everyone to know they are driving a hybrid.

The Prius, after all, was built from the ground up as a hybrid, and is sold only as a hybrid. By contrast, the main way to tell that a Honda Civic, Ford Escape or Saturn Vue is a hybrid version is a small badge on the trunk or side panel.

The Prius has become, in a sense, the four-wheel equivalent of those popular rubber "issue bracelets" in yellow and other colors โ€” it shows the world that its owner cares.

In fact, more than half of the Prius buyers surveyed this spring by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore., said the main reason they purchased their car was that "it makes a statement about me."

"I really want people to know that I care about the environment," said Joy Feasley of Philadelphia, owner of a green 2006 Prius. "I like that people stop and ask me how I like my car."

Mary Gatch of Charleston, S.C., chose the car over a hybrid version of the Toyota Camry after trading in a Lexus sedan.

"I felt like the Camry Hybrid was too subtle for the message I wanted to put out there," Ms. Gatch said. "I wanted to have the biggest impact that I could, and the Prius puts out a clearer message.

But who needs CNW Marketing's research data when we have Matt Stone and Trey Parker?

In other news, not everyone desires to be seen when driving a Priusโ€”especially when in possession of a Chris Benoit-load of pharmaceuticals.

NEXT: Ted Nugent's Summer of Hate

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  1. Don’t forget, it goes over 100 mph as well.

  2. Al Gore III and Roger Clinton should form a band

  3. “it makes a statement about me.”

    That’s why I drive a silver Altima.
    I want the rest of the world to think I am exactly like them.
    It’s the perfect cover.

  4. Uh, what about the Honda Insight? That’s also a hybrid-only model, and it’s not doing as well as the Prius either, apparently.

    Being the first hybrid on the market was probably a big help, as is having the Toyota reputation of reliability backing it up. Sorry, I wouldn’t trust anything “innovative” built by Fix Or Repair Daily.

  5. A riddle: Why has the Toyota Prius enjoyed such success, with sales of more than 400,000 in the United States, when most other hybrid models struggle to find buyer.

    Uh, because it came out almost a decade before those competitiors? It has several years’ head-start? It has proven its reliability over several years, as opposed to new models with shorter track records?

    I’d be curious to see how many car-buyers as whole answered that their choice “makes a statement about me.” Lord knows, no one has ever written about their pickup truck or restored 70s muscle car making a statement about what kind of person they are.

  6. In an appearance on NBC’s “Today Show” Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore said the family is dealing with the incident “as a private family matter.”

    Now its a private family matter. When he was running for president, he felt fine to criticise other peoples drug use…

    Tougher drug policies; fight drugs in Colombia
    Gore said he would push for “tougher drug penalties and enforcement,” would increase drug interdiction efforts, would expand drug courts and would institute a $2 billion national media campaign targeted at preventing youth from using drugs. He is supportive of the Colombia plan [which fight drugs via the Colombian military].
    Source: Boston Globe, p. A21 Mar 5, 2000

  7. So…people like to express themselves? Stop the presses.

  8. joe and crimethink make good points.

    Me, I will never buy from Detroit as long as their business model involves significant revenue from replacement parts.

  9. What’s the point of Holiness if nobody knows?

    If you’re older than eighteen, and people see you riding a bicycle, they are likely to assume you lost your license for getting too many DUIs. If you’re walking, people might think yer a bum, and can’t even afford a beater.

  10. thoreau,

    I forget who it was, but one of the regulars here once wrote that GM’s Onstar system was an admission that they couldn’t build a car that didn’t break down, so they might as well make it easier to call a tow truck.

  11. I have a Prius, I couldn’t care less about what statement it makes. It does the following that few (if any) other cars could do:

    1) Reliable.
    2) Averages 50mpg (yes it does).
    3) Fits my entire (large) drumkit plus room for a passenger and luggage.

    None of the other hybrids can carry as much crap and still get that mpg.

  12. I thought the Ford F150 contractor hybrid (the hybrid engine would double as an on-site mobile generator for electric tools, with standard 3-pin sockets around the truck) would sell gangbusters, but I don’t hear so much about it any more. Was it ever formally released, or just vaporware?

  13. Also, I don’t want to go all Dalmia on the subject, but it’s probably better for the environment to get a fuel-efficient gas-only car at this point than a hybrid, due to the massive amounts of extra energy tht go into producing the latter.

  14. If you can get equivalent mileage, or only drive a little, maybe.

    But seriously, what ICE car gets close to 50 mpg in combined driving?

    I’m not even within shouting distance of 40 in my Civic.

  15. Hybrids just don’t make sense economically. The gas savings enjoyed by the Civic hybrid versus the normal Civic are far too small to justify the price differential. When people have two models to compare, it becomes easy to see that hybrid is a bad deal.

    Also, pickup truck drivers don’t tend to buy their trucks to make a statement – they buy them because they need to haul shit around. I’d wager that less than 10% of non-hybrid car owners care what their car says about them.

  16. P Brooks,

    Funny you mention that! The other day I rode my bicycle to work, and a guy who saw me carrying my helmet asked me what kind of bike I had. I told him it was a hybrid, and he thought I was kidding. (For non-bike enthusiasts, a hybrid bike has frame and tires somewhere between those of light, thin-tired racing bikes and mountain bikes.)

    Which is another thing I have against hybrid cars: they’re not hybrids. A hybrid is something that exhibits partial characteristics of two different things without being either one. A “hybrid” car has both a gas engine and an electric one; it’s not part gas and part electric. So it really should be called “dual power” or something like that.

  17. Hybrids just don’t make sense economically. The gas savings enjoyed by the Civic hybrid versus the normal Civic are far too small to justify the price differential. When people have two models to compare, it becomes easy to see that hybrid is a bad deal.

    For now. OTOH, if you’re concerned about minimizing exposure to risks, including possible gasoline price shocks, and the very real possibility that gasoline prices will continue to rise, then a fuel efficienut car starts to make sense economically.

    One needn’t be a pessimist about technology and geology to think further gasoline price increases are possible. One could be concerned about the security situation in oil producing regions, the inefficiency of the state-run firms that produce so much of the world’s oil, regulations on oil refining, or the possibility of higher gasoline taxes. All of those are very real concerns (with perfectly good libertarian foundations!) that could lead one to fear the risk of higher prices in the future, and plan accordingly.

    Plus, technology enthusiasts might like the idea of buying a new technology with promise for the future, even if the price calculation doesn’t quite work out at the moment.

  18. Also, pickup truck drivers don’t tend to buy their trucks to make a statement – they buy them because they need to haul shit around.

    LOL! Yeah, right, all those spotless pickup trucks carrying one white guy with a tie on I-95 during the morning rush hour are on their way to the lumber yard.

    We’ve got 60+ years of fetishizing these appliances into personal statements of one’s individualism, and now we’re going to pretend that this is a new phenomenon?

    “I see you’re driving a Cadillac Seville.”

    “I see you’re doing the same.”

    “Welcome to the world of gentlemen, gentlemen.”

  19. P Brooks | July 5, 2007, 12:10pm | #

    What’s the point of Holiness if nobody knows?

    If you’re older than eighteen, and people see you riding a bicycle, they are likely to assume you lost your license for getting too many DUIs. If you’re walking, people might think yer a bum, and can’t even afford a beater.

    I’ve been in vehicles before with several people who make those same observations. It always annoys me and I have to remind them that some people actually enjoy walking or biking. I have access to 3 vehicles at any time, but I have ridden my bicycle to work for the last year and a half.

  20. IANAM, but I would think that a hybrid’s power train and braking systems (since the brakes on a hybrid contain mini-generators) are orders of magnitude more complicated to do repairs and maintenance on than a gas-only vehicle.

  21. Hybrids just don’t make sense economically.

    …for as long as we keep treating the atmosphere as a pollution dump version of the commons.

  22. And, I don’t do it for ‘status’ or to ‘feel green’. I simply enjoy the ride.

  23. Second on the stuff-carrying capabilities of the Prius. I’d have gone for the Honda Civic hybrid — at the time, it was a lot cheaper, and it looks ‘normal’ — but for its small trunk and non-folding rear seat (both consequences of where Honda chose to place the car’s battery pack). Since my wife’s car is a Miata, we need one car that does reasonably well as a stuff-carrier.

  24. IANAM, but I would think that a hybrid’s power train and braking systems (since the brakes on a hybrid contain mini-generators) are orders of magnitude more complicated to do repairs and maintenance on than a gas-only vehicle.

    Not too sure how much more complicated it is. Anecdotally, it’s the most reliable car I’ve every owned. And the brakes do not contain mini-generators, regenerative braking uses the electric-drive motor. The drive train on a Prius is actually fairly simple, and the part which does the blending between gas/electric is a really cool all-mechanical planetary gear setup. Look it up.

  25. I own an Accord. Because it has worked, is working, and will continue to work after the sun expands and cools.

    When people buy cars (or computers) solely to make a political statement, I think they make another statement, too: “I am a doofus”. That goes for joe’s what-the-fuck-does-city-boy-need-a-Hummer-for people as well as anyone on Earth who would buy a Mini.

    We’ll have reasonably priced and reasonably well-performing hybrids and electrics soon enough. There are market reasons supporting that, which will get us to the promised land much quicker and much better than any other reason.

  26. I also think the anti-bike prejudice P Brooks and jimmy attest to may be responsible for some of the obesity problems we see. Obviously, if you live several miles from where you work and don’t have a lot of time to commute, or you’re going someplace where you’re going to have to haul back lots of groceries, it’s not easy to replace your car with a bike for that.

    But I’m continually astonished by people who drive to places a mile from their houses, when a bike ride would take 5 minutes or less. Especially pathetic are the people who drive to the gym and take the elevator up to the workout room. People don’t seem to realize that there are plenty of opportunities to exercise at places not specifically designated for exercising.

  27. all those spotless pickup trucks carrying one white guy with a tie on I-95 during the morning rush hour are on their way to the lumber yard.

    That may be true in Whitesville, USA, but in my neck of the woods the pickups have at least nine Mexicans in them. And that’s just in the cab!

  28. stoneymonster, I stand corrected. I guess there’s a reason IANAM… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. I have an older Saturn SL that has been beautiful to own and drive, plus it still gets 34 MPG. I was thinking of getting the Vue hybrid when mine finally konks out, but from my limited understanding, it seems that Saturn has been GM-ified. So perhaps I will not do that.

  30. Because a warmed-up car gets better mileage and less pollution than a cold one, Toyota decided that it would be a good idea to keep the engine oil warm between driving, so the oil pan is basically a thermos.

    That’s just freaking brilliant. The best ideas are always so simple in hindsight, aren’t they? If GM had wanted to do the same thing, they would have spent millions of dollars designing an oil-heater that broke every 10,000 miles and occasionally started a fire.

  31. joe,

    But if it doesn’t break every 10,000 miles how will they make money on replacement parts?

  32. The best ideas are always so simple in hindsight, aren’t they?

    Only tangentially related, but this idea came up in an entry in my patent law blog yesterday:

    http://fedcirpatentcaseblurbs.blogspot.com/2007/07/28-june-07-precedential_04.html

    (sorry about the threadjack)

  33. The cost difference in a hybrid over a gas don’t really work with the Prius, either. Everything I’ve ever read claims $10k more for buying a hybrid. My prius cost 26k to put on the street, and is a hell of a lot better to drive than, say, a Yaris – which is still 20k.

    I got a Prius because it gets the best mileage of any hybrid, except the Insight, which is too small for me. I don’t really give a shit what people think of my politics based on my car – I just wanted something that I could feel good driving. And let me tell you, at 3 dollars a gallon, 50 mpg feels pretty good.

    But I guess it’s not interesting unless every Prius owner is just a trend-rider. Harder to make fun of ’em!

  34. One argument you could make for “making a statement” with your hybrid car is that you are encouraging other people to also get one.

    In other words, the more hybrids people see out on the road, the more likely they are to consider getting one themselves.

  35. No news here. Buying a car because you like what it suggests to other people has to be the idea most common to all car purchases.

    Design wise, Toyota rolled the dice on the ugly look to celebrate that their car was different. They played to the strengths of the concept, betting that the concept as a whole would catch on. Other manufacturers went primarily in the direction of sneaking hybrid technology in there.

    All that said, I hear a different story every week about how fuel efficient the Prius really is. I’m not averse to the idea at all. I just don’t want to pay a premium for a car that doesn’t work as advertised.

  36. My Prius story:

    When I went interviewing for faculty jobs, at one school I was picked up from the airport by a faculty member. When I asked him how I’d recognize him and his car, he said he’d be driving a Prius, and gave the color.

    I looked at his picture on his web page. He didn’t look like a hippie or anything, but he had this look in his eye. And I said to myself “That Prius will be covered in bumper stickers.”

    Sure enough, it was.

    Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a criticism of him. I like him, and I’ll enjoy working with him. Still, I thought it was funny.

  37. joe and thoreau,

    How did Detroit make its money? Two words: Planned obsolescence.

    I heard on NPR earlier this week that GM (I think it was GM) was working on buying a couple of Chinese car models to add to its product line. Another company is working on a NAFTA-based workaround for importing Chinese cars to Mexico, then shipping them to the U.S., duty free. The piece suggested that the Chinese cars would price around 20% less than equivalent U.S. and Japanese cars.

    China would like to take this opportunity to say good-bye to what’s left of the Rust Belt.

  38. THOREAU, YOU PHYSICIST, THAT’S A RE-RUN. DID YOUR SEASON END?

  39. It’s not a re-run, it’s a classic!

  40. @crimethink

    But I’m continually astonished by people who drive to places a mile from their houses, when a bike ride would take 5 minutes or less.

    By “people” I assume you mean “single people”. When I was in college, I didn’t need a car for years. Now I have 4 small kids, and when I take my two oldest to our workout less than a mile away, I take the van.

  41. Man, I want a synidcation deal like thoreau’s…

  42. I, too, marvel at people who will get in their cars and drive a block to the next stop on their list of errands; I [he smugly crooned] park in one spot and walk around town until I’m ready to go home. And if the return trip didn’t involve about five miles of unpaved road, uphill, I might ride my bicycle to town once in a while.

    ——

    “Especially pathetic are the people who drive to the gym and take the elevator up to the workout room.”

    I used to work out at a gym where there were a couple of people who would park on the sidewalk by the entrance, because they apparently couldn’t manage the trek all the way from a real parking space to the entrance; I suppose they were conserving their energy for the stairmaster.

  43. Here in California, a certain number of hybrids are eligible each year for stickers which allow them to use the carpool lanes, regardless of how many people are in the car. This can be a major win for someone who commutes using one of the highways with a carpool lane.

    I’ve talked to people whose main motivation for getting a hybrid was to get one of those stickers. Used hybrids with the stickers have a markup of several thousand dollars over the ones without stickers.

    Does this program exist in other states?

  44. By “people” I assume you mean “single people”. When I was in college, I didn’t need a car for years. Now I have 4 small kids, and when I take my two oldest to our workout less than a mile away, I take the van.

    If they’re old enough to work out at the gym, why not all take a bike ride there together? Just curious.

    Not that there’s anything wrong per se about taking the car, but why not bike??

  45. Uh, because it came out almost a decade before those competitiors? It has several years’ head-start? It has proven its reliability over several years, as opposed to new models with shorter track records?

    I agree with this sentiment…for the most part. The Honda Insight, however, was introduced in 1999, and was a complete failure. The Prius didn’t hit American shores until around 2001. The Insight was a pretty spectacular failure. This doesn’t discount joe’s point, it’s just that there were competing hybrids on the road as early as the Prius.

    I think that there are a multitude of factors as to why the Prius is popular. And yes, some of it can be attributed to a kind of environmental narcissism. I also agree, however that many people buy a vehicle because it makes a statement about them. Ever seen a low-rider with hydraulics, metal flake paint job and a virgin mary etched into the back window. Tell me that’s not a statement.

    But if you dig deep into the history of the Prius, you’ll find an odd marketplace attitude towards it, especially from the environmentalist crowd.

    Here’s an interesting article on the birth of the Prius. Snippet:

    It quickly learned that extreme environmentalists weren’t interested in hybrids: They were turned off by the technology and tight with a buck. And some dealers were still skeptical.

  46. LOL! Yeah, right, all those spotless pickup trucks carrying one white guy with a tie on I-95 during the morning rush hour are on their way to the lumber yard.

    Cats chasing dogs, mice chasing cats! Joe, you’ve nailed it again. We agree so wholeheartedly, I find it…strange.

    Or better yet, the super-dually, ram 350000 (spotless, natch) with a 5’3″ coiffed woman with a cell phone glued to her ear. Riiight. They’re haulin’ shit around. These are also the ‘tards that insist on backing into their spaces at the grocery store… badly.

    There should be a firm rule: If you haven’t yet figured out the whole “parking forwards” thing, you really shouldn’t be allowed to back-in park.

  47. I’ve also seen people in my neighborhood riding bikes with babies in little “trailers” attached to the rear frame. I can’t imagine they’re harder to deal with than car seats, and probably no more expensive.

    I could see being leery of taking something like that onto a busy street, but for short rides it shouldn’t be a problem. TBH, even on a busy road, a car would only hit the trailer if it were also going to hit the bike, and those things happen very rarely when you’re biking on the correct side of the road and following traffic laws. Of course, a concerned driver would probably call DCFS on you if you tried that.

  48. It’s not a re-run, it’s a classic!

    So is this thread this season’s clips show?

  49. Jake Boone,

    This is the very special episode where a comatose thoreau sees all his H&R posts flash before him, and decides that he truly wants to live again, and “wakes up” from his coma.

  50. Holy crap thoreau, you have 5380 Google hits on the reason.com site! Get back to work, slacker! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  51. This is the very special episode where a comatose thoreau sees all his H&R posts flash before him, and decides that he truly wants to live again, and “wakes up” from his coma.

    Ooo, I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    (I heard thoreau’s in a contract dispute, so this might be how they kill off his character.)

  52. I like what my Civic says about me:

    I drive so little that my cars last forever. Also, I don’t care enough to replace the H-logo that someone wrenched off the trunk.

  53. They want to recast the character, try for somebody with a more authentic New England accent, to match my namesake.

    joe, don’t even THINK of auditioning!

  54. thoreau – “Me, I will never buy from Detroit as long as their business model involves significant revenue from replacement parts”

    Can you back this up? Last I looked, failure rate differences between GM or Ford vs the like of Honda and Toyota were not significant. Something on the order of 2.0% vs. 2.2%. You could call that a 10% difference in failure rate, but it amounts to no significant increased risk of failure, given the low problem rate for almost all newer models. And when the (high quality Toyoto and Honda) imports do break, even if it is 10% less often, they will cost double to fix. I’ve never paid $180 for a starter for a (non-diesel) American car, but for my GF’s Nissan Pathfinder that was the cheapest I could find. She’s got a RAV4 now – zero problems after 70,000 miles.

    I’ve had a 2007 Ford Ranger Sport for 9 months now (already put 25,000 miles on it). Not one problem. But mine wasn’t made in Detroit, it is from Minnessota (except the trans, which is from France). I hope its not a statement about myself, as its one of those bright yellow tonka truck style things….

    I notice left wingers seem more likely to drive imports. Is it because they are smarter than everyone else, or because, as everyone knows, left wingers hate America? ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually do have a wing nut buddy who says GM is symbolic of (evil) American capitalism – he likes those faggy little imports. Again — ๐Ÿ™‚

  55. I don’t care enough to replace the H-logo that someone wrenched off the trunk.

    Probably some drug-using welfare recipient, one of the people you want to save. Think about that next time you opine about making sure everyone gets to vote — you’re empowering the person who stole your automotive identity!

  56. If they’re old enough to work out at the gym, why not all take a bike ride there together? Just curious.

    Not that there’s anything wrong per se about taking the car, but why not bike??

    I do the same (drive when I could bike).

    1. The bike is in the basement.
    2. It doesn’t carry anywhere near as much stuff as my car.
    3. My car is ready to go and requires no sepcial equipment. The bike is not ready and does.
    4. The car is faster and much more comfy.
    5. The car is safer. About a bajillion times safer and that makes me sleep much better when it comes to my kids.
    6. I don’t sweat like James Brown on a bender when I drive.
    7. I don’t have to dread the ride home from the gym.

  57. I considered both the Prius and the Insight back when they were the only hybrids, and the Insight was never going to be able to recover from the fact that it’s basically an Accord with no back seat and practically no trunk. The Prius was the first hybrid to market that was still a complete car.

    And crimethink, I can think of lots of reasons people don’t ride a bike 1 mile. I’m 1 mile away from the supermarket as the crow flies, but I don’t ride a bike because:

    1. I’m not a crow and it’s 2 miles by road.

    2. It’s about 500 feet closer to sea level than my house.

    3. I’m going to the supermarket to, you know, buy stuff that I have to bring back to my house.

    4. There’s nowhere to lock the bike up at the supermarket.

    5. In the three hours it would take me round trip including my shopping, it might rain.

    The real way to avoid car driving isn’t to convince people it’s no big deal to take a bike 2 miles round trip. It’s to allow the market to achieve such high density that people can run most of their errands within 300 yards of their home. I’ve also lived less than 300 yards from supermarkets, libraries, movie theatres, etc., and THEN I would walk. I’d still never bike, though, because a bike is still a lousy tool for errands. [Yeah, I’m going to pick up my dry cleaning on a bike. Sure.]

  58. bigbigslacker –

    I think you’re running into “latte leftists” who won’t buy a domestic car because, well, they’re gross. Detroit still has to style their cars to appeal to the working class rural Americans that are most of their remaining customer base. If Detroit would make an American car that looked exactly like a Mercedes, I’d buy it.

  59. I mean, come on. Do you really expect me to buy this?

    http://www.marax.at/funpix/Ford-Mustang-Eleanor-Body-Kit-1.jpg

  60. Fluffy–The Ford 500 (now Taurus) has serious lines ripped off from Mercedes and has the same designer as the old Passat, which is why it has the exact same profile.

  61. Fluffy,

    Well, I specifically said that if you’re hauling lots of stuff back, a bike might not be an option. I was talking more about other errands.

    And you can almost always find something to lock your bike to if you’re creative. I usually lock mine up to the shopping-cart return corrals, which are the perfect height. If all else fails, locking your bike to a traffic sign is a desperation possibility, since it’s not hard to take the sign off and slide the bike up off the post, but few people are going to have the chutzpah to do that in full view of a busy road.

  62. As one who regularly commutes via bicycle and does all sorts of errands with my bike I just have one word for JW and Fluffy…excuses.

    And, fluffy, it would take you 3 hours to make a 4 mile round trip via bike?? You might want to consider getting in shape a little ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. crimethink,

    I honestly can’t tell if you’re kidding.

    A guy on the thread below just called Charles Rangel “the most worthless type of n*gger.”

    I’m serious – you’re kidding, right? Tell me you’re kidding.

  64. My car says “behold a driver who is putting some transmission specialist’s kid through college.”

    Never, ever, EVER buy a Dodge Neon. Unless you’re somebody I don’t like.

  65. @ joe

    You asked: “But seriously, what ICE car gets close to 50 mpg in combined driving?”

    My ’02 Corolla 5-speed got 42 on its last tank in mixed driving, 90-degree heat, and the A/C on 80% of the time.

    I could come close to 50 if I wanted to sweat without A/C, and shut off the ignition at stop lights and on long downhill runs. The hypermilers at cleanmpg.com do some strange shit to get sick mileage numbers out of hybrids and ICEs (one guy gets over 40 in his Ford Ranger–I couldn’t get better than 26 when I had one).

  66. Jimmy–Excuses? No, they’re reasons, my reasons. Just like your reasons for doing things in your life, which I suspect vastly differs from mine.

    Call me back when you have kids.

  67. Why the hatred for Minis? (I’m either going to get a Smart Car or a Mini for my next car after the present Nissan gets over 200K miles.) I’d love to have something small, good quality, and holds a lot of stuff.

    GM unfortunately pissed in their bed with a history of bad clunkers when it came to small cars and now have to get their reputation back.

    I usually end up experience GM and Ford sub-compacts when traveling (rental) and have to say–they have a ways to go….I’d like to throttle most of the interior designers.

    AND external designers. How they can take something with a 10 ft length and less than 5 feet width and STILL force it to have a 80 ft circle turning radius is a miracle of bad engineering.

  68. 1. In my area middle class guys who ride to work do so in full Lance Armstrong regalia. That way everyone knows your just a in shape rich guy, not an illegal immigrant and/or DUI repeat offender.

    2. It’s mathmatically impossible for GM to build a better car than Toyota/Honda. If GM and Toyota sell you a car for 30k, the money that Toyota doesn’t pay in UAW wages and benifits it can instead use to buy higher quality parts, better enginering, more crash testing, high quality control. GM and Toyota in many cases buy parts from the same suppliers – Delphi might say we have the 100k mile alternator for $100, the 150k for $150. GM buys the 100 and toyota buys the 150.

  69. I’m sorry, but if they recast thoreauwood with Dick Sargent, I’m not reading his posts anymore.

  70. I’m still holding out for a HUMMER hybrid.

  71. JW | July 5, 2007, 2:04pm | #

    Jimmy–Excuses? No, they’re reasons, my reasons. Just like your reasons for doing things in your life, which I suspect vastly differs from mine.

    Call me back when you have kids.

    Um, I don’t need a reason to ride my bike. I simply do it because I like it. Call it a preference, if you will. Definitely not a reason. Same goes for the way you do things…they are called preferences.

    However, when you list your preferences as reasons for why you won’t do something, they become excuses. If you had simply said, “I prefer the convenience of a car”, I wouldn’t have called it an excuse.

  72. Oh yes. The Prius says something about the driver, especially when zooming up a steep hill at 65 on a 50MPH road — a situation I encounter frequently when commuting “over the hill” and back between the Silicon Valley and the Monterey Bay over dangerous Highway 17. It says, of course, “The driver is a hypocrite who is willing to pay good money for a ‘moral get out of jail free card.'”

    With luck, such drivers will soon show their true colors by purchasing the $90K Tesla Roadster. That all-electric car was designed for fast, nimble driving as well as minimal energy consumption and greenhouse gas production, far less per mile than any “hybrid.” Great sales of the Roadster will — according to the company — help to finance subsequent generations of more affordable and practical EVs, not to mention inspire others from competitors, so that we can ALL eventually “tread lightly,” without gasoline. I could easily forgive a trendier-than-thou driver zooming past me going uphill on Hwy 17 if I knew they had already paid their dues in that great cause. I’m just sayin’

  73. Call me back when you have kids.

    As far as preferences go, I’d like to think that I’d load them up in the bike trailer whenever possible. Then again, I can’t really speculate on how I’ll handle things in the future.

  74. Hybrids just don’t make sense economically. The gas savings enjoyed by the Civic hybrid versus the normal Civic are far too small to justify the price differential. When people have two models to compare, it becomes easy to see that hybrid is a bad deal.

    If you do the math, you need to keep/use a Prius for about 8 years to break even versus a Camry. For Honda’s hybrids it’s about 12 years. The fact is the algorithm for switching bewteen gas and electric is different for each manufacturer, and Honda has recently admitted that they misread the market – Toyota figured people would sacrifice power for gas mileage whereas Honda figured people would want comparable power to ICE.

  75. As far as preferences go, I’d like to think that I’d load them up in the bike trailer whenever possible. Then again, I can’t really speculate on how I’ll handle things in the future.

    Trust me, it’s a genetic switch in the head. You don’t even know about this until the kiddies arrive. Things you couldn’t have cared less about before are suddenly some of the most important things in the world.

    And it ain’t always rational. That said, I bought one of the safest cars on the road in 2005, only becuase I have kids. It would cream a Prius auto-y-auto and I can live with the 20/30 mileage knowing this. That, and it has a trunk that a hitman would love.

    Given my druthers, I’d be on a motorcycle again, but that won’t be for many years, sadly.

  76. Toyota figured people would sacrifice power for gas mileage whereas Honda figured people would want comparable power to ICE.

    I guess that means I’ll never see the best hybrid option possible: a diesel-electric car.

    It would absolutely scream and with impecable green credentials, given what diesel technology has come to.

  77. Folks – it’s all about the statement the Prius makes. Kinda like the “Bio diesel” bumper sticker you see on a lot of cars.

  78. Here’s a pretty good wiki about hybrid engines.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_Vehicle_Drivetrains

  79. Alright, you carbon-offsetters out there- I am entertaining bids on my gas-guzzling behemoth, a 454 cubic inch 1979 Chevrolet Suburban. What will you pay me to remove this Gaia-raping monster from the road? What will you pay me to take it to the crusher?

    The winner will be expected to take delivery of the “cubed” remains, which he may display as he sees fit, in order that all and sundry might know how dedicated he is to the cause.

  80. That’s beautiful, Brooks.

  81. My next car will be a Tucker.

  82. The winner will be expected to take delivery of the “cubed” remains

    If they resemble the Borg’s ship, I’ll bid $29.

  83. …if they recast thoreau with Dick Sargent…

    We could use some ethnic diversity at H&R – how about the second Lionel Jefferson?

    In my area middle class guys who ride to work do so in full Lance Armstrong regalia.

    I see this a lot on the bike trail I go riding on. It’s hilarious when their biking shirt can barely rein in their gut.

  84. I see this a lot on the bike trail I go riding on. It’s hilarious when their biking shirt can barely rein in their gut.

    Agreed ๐Ÿ™‚

  85. I love both my ‘hybrid’ 1972 Dodge Charger and my 1996 ‘hydrogen powered’ Jeep ๐Ÿ˜‰ Why anybody cares that others tastes differ from their own is beyond me!

    This whole hybrid fad is nothing more than the latest fake fur revival and the vandals who don’t like the taste of others are already destroying whatever they don’t approve of. The fur coat spray painting of 20 years ago is now the SUV burning and vandalism of today.

    JW,
    I guess that means I’ll never see the best hybrid option possible: a diesel-electric car.

    What is stopping you from building your own?

  86. Crimethink,

    The Honda Insight was a 2 seater with a manual transmission- that is why id didn’t sell
    anywhere near as well as the Prius.Most people can’t drive a stick ( I’ve heard %90) and 2 seats are for sports cars.

  87. I bought a Honda Civic hybrid because I didn’t like the looks of the Prius. The only reason that I went hybrid was the ability to drive solo in the HOV lane. In my state, Arizona, as soon as the carpool lane was approved for hybrids, the number of Prius and Civic hybrids on the road increased dramatically. You cannot put a price on the ability to save hours of commuting time each year.

    With the rising gas prices and the Fed tax credit, the economics of buying a hybrid versus a comparable ICE vehicle are not too bad. I calculated that after the tax credit, my break even point would be in the fourth year based on the current gas price and mileage that I drive.

  88. What is stopping you from building your own?

    Other than a complete lack of mechanical skills?

  89. Say, that’s a good question. How many people can drive stick these days? I’ve got a 5-speed now, and my next car will have a manual transmission, as well, Zeus willing.

  90. JW,

    Agreed – hybrid electric/turbo-deisel.

    I drive a stick.

  91. joe,

    But seriously, what ICE car gets close to 50 mpg in combined driving?

    The log time record holder for as tested fuel economy at Car and Driver magazine was a Subaru Justy at over 50 in real world driving. I think the Prius finally beat it with the 2006 model.

  92. long time……..close tags etc

  93. With the rising gas prices and the Fed tax credit

    So do you collect food stamps too?

  94. my next car will have a manual transmission, as well, Zeus willing.

    The days of the cheap manual transmission are about gone. Soon the manual option will be more expensive as a “performance” upgrade.

    I think those Australian cars Pontiac rebadged as “GTOs” cost 1500 extra for a stick.

  95. http://www.nature.com/climate/2007/0707/full/climate.2007.14.html

    Worldwide emissions of man-made carbon dioxide are rising faster than even the worst case predictions made by scientists…according to a new study by Michael Raupach of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia, and international colleagues.

    Even the most fossil fuel-intensive scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underestimated the rapid increase in CO2 levels since 2000. Raupach and colleagues attribute the observed trends to the increasing energy intensity of economic activity and the carbon intensity of energy sources. The study shows that no region is decarbonizing its energy supply and that CO2 emissions are accelerating worldwide, with China in the lead.

  96. Hey bikerspersons, how do you deal with security? Driving to work I can easily take the time to thread a cable lock through all my various stealables on a bike. But if i were to bike to Krogers and then over to the CVS, what options are there for making sure the bike is still there when you’re done?

  97. Subaru Justy?

    I think I used to dip those in hummus.

  98. I drove a stick for over 20 years. I got a 6-speed auto 2 years ago. With the traffic around here, it takes any fun the stick had and stomps the life out of it thoroughly. The auto can be squirrley, but it gets it right most of the time.

    I don’t miss the stick one bit. Especially in 4 hour, stop and go, bumper-to-bumper backups.

  99. My prius cost 26k to put on the street, and is a hell of a lot better to drive than, say, a Yaris – which is still 20k.

    A Yaris is nowhere near 20k. A nicely optioned one is more like $15-16K.

    Considering a $10K price differential and 15 MPG difference, it takes about 400,000 miles to make up for higher initial price of the Prius.

  100. Why the hatred for Minis?

    The stripes on all of them are crooked.

    Seriously. Look at ’em.

  101. The Prius is not a replacement for the Yaris, Dr. K.

    If I compared it to the Chevy Suburban, it would take well under 100,000 miles to break even.

    The Prius is a mid-sized car with lots of room.

  102. joe,

    We may not agree on many things, but I’ll fight for your right to drive with a manual transmission. I’m waiting for the day when I have to pay extra for a car with a stick shift. Grrrr.

    The wife has a standard, too. Though the minivan is automatic, which I’m okay with. I mean, it’s a minivan. We’re probably selling her car–it’s superfluous–so my car will be the last, great standard hope.

  103. The older Geo Metro XFIs with the 3-cylinder 1.0 liter engine with manual shift got 58 miles per gallon. I test drove a 1990 or 91 model – seemed to accelerate OK for what it was. Considering these were about the cheapest cars on the road, I find it hard to get too excited about the new hybrids and their “great” gas mileage.

    A Hummer hybrid would be awesome. Could there be a bigger “fuck you” to send to green anticapitalists of the sort that absolutely and truely hate those “rich, polluting, hummer-driving assholes”? But, even the current Hummers aren’t that bad on gas. Almost everyone posting on this board has probably owned a 70’s or early 80’s car that got worse gas mileage than a Hummer (I think the “worst” Hummer model gets 14 MPG city). That would be just about like any medium to big car with a carbureted V-8 – Impala, Satellite, Cordoba, Nova, Chevelle, Mustang, Electra, whatever.

  104. Well, OK, joe. I’ll run the numbers vs a corolla which is a comparable mid-size car.

    It still works out to 200K+ miles to break even. And that’s not even factoring in the time value of money.

    Buy a hybrid if you like, but don’t pretend you’re going to save a lot of money doing so.

  105. I hate Hummer drivers. I’m perfectly happy to admit it.

    But I don’t hate them for environmental reasons and I don’t hate them for reasons of class envy.

    I hate them because the guy who buys a Hummer is thinking, “They use these in the army and Ah-nold bought one, and I’m going to show people I’m tough and cool and they better not mess with me, boy, or I’ll go all Terminator on them and use my Marine kung-fu grip!” I see a Hummer and I think, “Go fuck yourself, seriously.”

    There’s an ad for some other SUV where some stereotypical SUV-owner dad is showing the engine to his son and says, “Hemi. Can you say ‘hemi’?” and whenever I would see that I’d think to myself, “Teach him to say suburban jock moron, he needs to know how to say that even more. It’s practically his last name.”

  106. lunchstealer | July 5, 2007, 5:31pm | #

    Hey bikerspersons, how do you deal with security? Driving to work I can easily take the time to thread a cable lock through all my various stealables on a bike. But if i were to bike to Krogers and then over to the CVS, what options are there for making sure the bike is still there when you’re done?

    At work, I just park my bike inside my office. If running errands, I either make sure to remove all “stealables” from the bike before leaving the house, or take an empty backpack. It’s almost always a hassle, but I don’t mind the extra “work”.

  107. Are these astounding mpg figures people are throwing out the EPA ratings for highway mileage?

    Because that isn’t the same thing as actually getting 50 mpg in the real world. It’s not even the same thing as actually getting 50 mph highway.

    Dr. K,

    I wouldn’t equate it to a Corolla. Maybe an Accord. Something that seats four adults or two with three kids in the back seat.

    I don’t hate Hummer drivers. I pity them, like I pity 48 year old bald guys who buy red Firebirds.

  108. Hmmm, maybe it’s just the best hybrid? Nah, too obvious.

  109. thoreau,
    “Me, I will never buy from Detroit as long as their business model involves significant revenue from replacement parts.”

    EVERY vehicle manufacturer uses this model. Why do you think your speedometer reads 2-3 miles per hour faster than you’re actually going? To prevent you from getting a ticket? No, to roll your odometer (and thus your car) out of warrenty sooner.

  110. crimethink,
    “IANAM, but I would think that a hybrid’s power train and braking systems (since the brakes on a hybrid contain mini-generators) are orders of magnitude more complicated to do repairs and maintenance on than a gas-only vehicle.”

    You would be right, and in spades. And just wait until you have to buty a new battery pack.

  111. joe,
    “…for as long as we keep treating the atmosphere as a pollution dump version of the commons.”

    Hate to break it to you joe, but hybrids pollute nearly as much as their ICE counterparts (actually more,in certain conditions), engine size for engine size. After all, Hybrids use ICE engines, and can’t be plugged in.

  112. joe,
    “Because a warmed-up car gets better mileage and less pollution than a cold one, Toyota decided that it would be a good idea to keep the engine oil warm between driving, so the oil pan is basically a thermos.”

    Considering that the Prius needs 5 water pumps to keep it cool, its got plenty of heat for pre-heating. The thermos oil pan is mostly a gimmick.

  113. joe,
    “Agreed – hybrid electric/turbo-deisel.”

    And even that still misses half the available technology.

  114. Practicalities like seating and manual transmission aside, the Prius did better than the Insight because the Insight is hideous. I’ve seen vacuum cleaners with better lines.

  115. But seriously, what ICE car gets close to 50 mpg in combined driving? I’m not even within shouting distance of 40 in my Civic.” A number of early ’80s cars. The VW Rabbit Diesel got 61 mpg.

    Personally I drive an ’04 MINI Cooper S and due to slow driving I get 42 mpg. And I am 10 times cooler than a Prius…though I am pretty sure I can’t carry a drum kit ๐Ÿ™ (haven’t tried actually) And is 1000xCooler than the VW Rabbit! =D

    “That goes for joe’s what-the-fuck-does-city-boy-need-a-Hummer-for people as well as anyone on Earth who would buy a Mini.

    grrr…

    “There should be a firm rule: If you haven’t yet figured out the whole “parking forwards” thing, you really shouldn’t be allowed to back-in park.

    interstingly the front end of my MINI can’t fully clear most curbs, so backing in is actually the best way to park into a curbed space. Fortunately this is easy in a MINI.

  116. And is 1000xCooler than the VW Rabbit! =D

    grrrr…

    I loved my 78′ Rabbit back in the day (mid 90s)…

  117. I loved my 78′ Rabbit back in the day (mid 90s)…

    My mom had a 78 Rabbit when it was new. Champagne green.

    If I saw that car today, I would set it on fire. Whadda an unbelievable piece of unmitigated shit.

    Between a jump start on every cold morning to it just dying randomly on hot days and restarting when it felt like it to the rings being replaced at 30K (and fighting VW tooth and nail for warranty coverage) to everything else that burned a hole in my soul, it earns retroactive abortions for the entire design team.

    Not that I’m bitter or anything.

  118. Speaking of bicycles (and bicycle commuters): I don’t walk in your fucking bike lane, so get the fuck off the sidewalk, assholes!

  119. Regarding the reliability of Toyota cars:
    The German ADAC (largest automobile club in the world) considers Toyota cars as the most reliable (if you car brakes down you call the ADAC over here – so they’ve got a pretty good data base) – closely followed by Mercedes, Audi and BMW, of course.

  120. wsdave,

    Man, you really want to hate on the Prius! I cannot believe how weak these arguments are!

    Hate to break it to you joe, but hybrids pollute nearly as much as their ICE counterparts (actually more,in certain conditions), engine size for engine size. After all, Hybrids use ICE engines, and can’t be plugged in.

    “Engine size for engine size?” What are you, kidding me? Hybrids have smaller ICEs than comparable gas-powered cars. You know this. I know this. Everyone on the freaking planet knows this.

    Considering that the Prius needs 5 water pumps to keep it cool, its got plenty of heat for pre-heating.

    Heat that takes several minutes to build up in cold weather, like any other car. Are those water pumps working to cool the car after its been shut off for ten hours? Of course not. You know this. I know this. Every person on the freaking planet knows that you have to run a car for while for its engine to heat it up.

    You are going to pull a hamstring if you keep stretching that hard. Seriously, are you Ms. Dalmia’s sock puppet?

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