General Question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Why do people bother with hybrid cars?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16558points) May 19th, 2009

Hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid etc. don’t seem to be worth the money to me. I have read that the added weight of thousands of battery banks negates much of the advantages of the fuel efficient engine setup, which means that hybrids such as the Prius and Insight benefit almost entirely from their low drag coefficient body shape.

As well as this, the new generation of direct injection, forced induction engines are similarly economical (for example, the new Ford Fiesta). Hybrids are expensive, and take years to pay off, and are environmentally harmful to dispose of.

Why then, do hybrids sell so well?

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23 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s evolving technology. you just saw the first generation of hybrids. Subsequent developments are going to improve performance, weight, and power.

Next year’s Prius models will get 50 MPH.

Also, how is a Ford Fiesta any less harmful to dispose of?

robmandu's avatar

I think a lot of what you’ve read is misinformation, speculation, and possibly propaganda.

Check out this article from the New York Times’ columnist David Pogue. It specifically addresses point-for-point many of your concerns.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Do you mean they will get 50 MpG? 50 MpH isnt much to brag about

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Has it ever occurred to you that we’re running out of oil. It’s not going to be around forever. Some people are trying to do their part to make it last longer. But what the hell, plastic isn’t that important.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic a Ford Fiesta does not have battery banks, which is the particularly harmful part. Admittedly they aren’t lead-acid batteries, but it is still harmful.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@robmandu Thanks, I’ll take a look.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@La_chica_gomela We are running out of oil, but I said above that current direct injection and forced induction engines are just as frugal. The answer is not hybrids, it is Hydrogen Fuel Cells like the Honda FCX Clarity.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m not sure. I had, until las year, a 1994 Nissan Sentra that got 35 miles to the gallon on 1994 technology. That’s actually better mileage than some of the hybrids. Maybe not cleaner technology, but very good mileage. I think it depends on the hybrid as to whether you’re really better off.

JG117's avatar

because of global warmimg we dont all want to die

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Firemadeflesh, I disagree that “the answer” is hydrogen fuel cells. And spending the money to develop the technology used in the Ford Fiesta isn’t getting us any closer to hydrogen fuel cells anyway. Perhaps people who want to support environmental advances want to put their money toward something useful, like hybrids rather than waste it on a Fiesta. There are a lot of reasons to buy a Prius. Although, it seems like your mind is already made up that there are not.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar


That is a good link. My source was in fact Top Gear Australia magazine, so I will be researching this further and then possibly writing to them. If this person’s opinion is based on fact and evidence, then I stand corrected.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Before the collapse, there were many companies investing in fuel cells. In the mean time, we need to pass emissions targets.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

A few reasons:
*Some people actually do the type of driving for the engines to switch over to maximum savings mode
*Less oil consumption= less oil consumption and for those who can afford to make the choice over gasoline costs versus extra price tag, good for them for being able to help
*Those who want and can afford to support innovation that leads to conservation, they will spend the money be the conservation be for oil, metal, plastics, progressive factories, etc.
*There’s always the trend appeal

an example- my stepdad will never put the mileage on his Prius to offset the extra cost over a non hybrid car but he wanted to show support for the technology in hopes of furthering any possible trend so automakers would be encouraged to keep outdoing one another in hybrids. He can afford it, it makes him feel good to be able to do even just a little bit more towards resource conservation.

susanc's avatar

As a Prius owner for 5 years, I’d like to say that hungryhungry nailed it. I like the car and I like to advertise my worthy citizenlike choices and I like knowing I’m doing better than I have to. And my old van was on its last legs. Also, if I drive the thing carefully, I get 54 mpg.

raptorum's avatar

The hybrid is a very new technology. It has yet to show it’s full potencial or downsides. However from personal experience I can tell you that I can get up to sixty miles a gallon in my grandmothers Prius.

tinyfaery's avatar

There are sooo many hybrids in my area these days, and the reason is the commute. Los Angeles is a huge city. Some people travel two hours, each way, to work everyday. Saves a lot of money for these people.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@raptorum I can get 6.6L/100km (42.8mpg using the European gallon, not sure what I’m meant to use) in my ten year old Toyota Starlet. Granted I don’t have anywhere near the capacity for people or luggage of a Prius, Civic or Insight, but I should think things have improved a lot in ten years. 60 is quite impressive though.

I think I may have created a misconception about myself with this question. I don’t dislike hybrids, but personally I’d go for a VW Golf which gets similar fuel consumption and is a more fun car. Each to their own though.

robmandu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, in terms of just straight fuel economy, I agree with you: miserly gas (or diesel) offerings are probably the best still.

What I found so interesting about the article I linked above is that Toyota originally envisioned the Prius as a platform for delivering the next generation of low emissions vehicles. The improved fuel economy was simply a side effect. And then the battery and other ancillary technologies helped improve the longevity of the vehicle, too.

I read recently that the third generation Prius (yet to be released) will have all-electric (non-hydraulic) air conditioning. With the addition of optional solar panels to the roof, then those of us in Texas with one of those bad boys will have a car that runs the a/c when parked in the baking sun!

That’s pretty frickin’ cool.

Harold's avatar

Interesting how many people answer with “because it makes me feel better”, or someting similar. I laughed a lot at “because of global warming we don’t want to die”. There is nothing you can do about global warming- it is part of a cycle, and will end when its good and ready. As Fiore MAde Flesh said, a Prius is no better for the environment than an economical petrol vehicle that gets similar fuel economy. It has the added negative of the harm to the environment from battery manufacture and disposal. But if it makes you feel better, go ahead. Just don’t try and shame me into buying rubbish.

jerv's avatar

Part of it is the tax credit and part of it is the status.

Personally, I would rather have a Tesla Model S

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