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Old 08-03-2010, 10:29 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Ok, I'll widen it a bit, I stil don't understand the advantages of Hybrids unless your have a local policy like london's congestion charge that benefits a car that can do a handfull of miles @zero emissions, even though it arguably compromises the car else where.....

are they purely the F-80 shooting star of cars? by that I mean proof that electric stuff can work in the day to day world before more manufacturers go full ZE??

p.s. not sure about the carbon foot print of diesels v's hybrids - especiall if we include the latest hypermilling diesel from OEMs getting down below 89carbons
Quite a few have start/stop systems like BMW Efficient dynamics, Audi's smartdrive systems etc, most renaults and fords have keyless tech

I suppose I need to drive one and truly experience them first hand.

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Old 08-03-2010, 10:49 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I think the main attraction to hybrids here in the states is the fact that we do not have access to these ultra-efficient diesel cars that are available in Europe (70+ mpg).

"Clean (low sulfur) diesel" fuel has not been available in the US for very long and it will probably take time for Americans to adopt the idea.
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Old 08-03-2010, 10:58 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Here's what drew us to our Prius:
  • We wanted good gas milage, so we were limited... either a super tiny car with a small engine and a manual transmission (like my Swift) or a TDI or a Hybrid... Since my wife WILL NOT drive a manual transmission (this is primarily her car), and we have a child and are planning on more, we opted for a larger car than what I currently drive.
  • We looked at some TDIs, but people wanted $15,000 for one with 100,000 miles on them... or $7,000 for ones with 200,000 miles... just not cost effective (at least in our area), plus, diesel has been more expensive for a long time, and it's more expensive to get them worked on... oh, and for the best FE, you have to have a manual transmission...
  • We looked at the new Insight, but, since they are new, you would have to pay new prices for them...
  • The Prius gets outstanding fuel economy, particularly in the city (where we do most of our driving).
  • I was really surprised at how roomy it is! Really, you can fit 5 adults in it without a problem! It is also big enough to fit everything we need to take on a trip (car seat, dog, baggage, snacks, etc.). Coming from my wife and I having two sedans, the hatch is awesome! Much easier to get things in and out, especially large objects like ladders or over-sized boxes.
  • We have had it for about a year, and averaged almost 50mpg with it. To put this in perspective, we have a friend with a manual transmission TDI, he gets better highway FE, but his average FE is low 40's.
  • It also has lots of cool features that I hadn't seen before, like the ability to open your door, and start the car without taking the keys out of your pocket, or the ability to creep along in traffic without having the engine running.
  • We were also able to get ours for a really good price from a guy that was buying a TDI and going to make his own bio-diesel.
For us, it just made sense. Maybe someday if our family outgrows it, we will go to a minivan as the primary vehicle, and I will get the Prius
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:14 AM   #14 (permalink)
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thanks - i think i understand now
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Old 08-03-2010, 01:35 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robchalmers View Post
Ok, I'll widen it a bit, I stil don't understand the advantages of Hybrids...
There has been a lot written on this, which you can find with a bit of searching. But the simple explanation is mostly to do with engine size. It takes a lot more power to accelerate a car to cruising speed than in does to cruise at a steady speed. With a conventional car, you have to size the engine to produce the power needed to accelerate, which means that when cruising - most of the time, for most people - you're carrying around a lot of extra engine that's running at much less than its best efficiency. (See various threads of BSFC.) With a hybrid, you can have a smaller engine running more efficiently, because you have the electric to accelerate.

There are also a couple of myths in previous posts. First, that hybrids are only good for city driving. Now this may be true of the Prius, but it's emphatically not of the 1st gen Insight. With mine, I might get 50-60 mpg or less in city driving (I don't do enough to have good numbers, though), but on an open, level highway I can frequently be cruising above 80 mpg.

Second, it's not true that the engine must recharge the batteries. If you drive properly (and it helps to have a MIMA system or similar) most of the charging will come from braking, recovering energy that'd otherwise be wasted.
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:35 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robchalmers View Post
I'm just trying to understand the Prius. I'm sorry if the title is a little sharp, but I'm not sure what the aim of the car is.

A few petrol cars here in europe can produce the economy figures the prius does. . . .
It might help to introduce you to the EPA web site that folks can save their mileage numbers:
Fuel Economy

There is a "Compare Side-by-Side" that allows selecting four cars in different years to see what USA drivers are getting:
  • 49.1 MPG (US gallons) - 97 vehicles, 2010 Prius, Midsize car, 35-60 range
  • 49.8 MPG - 14 vehicles, Honda Insight 2010, Compact Car, 43-60 range
  • 44.7 MPG - 10 vehicles, VW Jetta TDI 2010 (manual), Compact Car, 36-52 range
  • 44.6 MPG - 5 vehicles, VW Golf TDI 2010 (manual), Compact Car, 41-47 range
These are not lab tests but what owners of these cars are getting. In fact you can get their individual averages and look at the distribution to understand where the performance falls off.

We find that other web sites that track mileage seem to report similar results:
Fuelly | Share and Compare Your MPG

Notice that the Prius, unlike the other three cars, is considered a midsize vehicle. This means we have a tremendous amount of space for people or fold down the rear seats, our "stuff." Only the Jetta SportWagen comes close in volume but at 39.9 MPG, 33-52 range, it has significantly worse fuel economy.

Now there is a critical speed that separates 'hybrid mode' from 'engine on always' mode and in the 2010 this is ~46 mph (~73 km/h). Below this speed, the car automatically cycles between engine running and electric power depending upon the demand and amount of energy in the battery. What this does is instead of running at a very inefficient, low power mode, the engine runs at a little higher, more fuel efficient per kilowatt hour. The excess energy is stored in the traction battery so when it has enough, it stops the engine and uses the stored excess energy. It turns out the energy saved by running the engine at a higher power setting more than makes up for any conversion losses.

BTW, I quite agree with the auto-stop engine nonsense as being just that, nonsense. General Motors just killed their 'auto-stop' hybrids that they called "mild hybrid." They failed to save hardly any fuel and were dreadfully expensive. Fortunately, the Toyota, Ford and Honda hybrids don't do just 'auto-stop' nonsense.

I do hope you get a chance to test drive a Prius. We had rented one in 2001 for a couple of days but at the time, I couldn't justify it. Then in 2005, I bought a used, 2003 Prius when our Camry was lost in a rain-slick, street accident. I've never looked back . . . except for the first tank.

The older, NHW11 model Prius, 2001-03, has a 'knee in the curve' at 70 mph (112 km/h) that I didn't know about. So I drove that first tank at 75+ mph (+120 km/h) and got 39 MPG. Slowing down to just 70 mph increased the mileage to 49 MPG and 65 mph (104 km/h) brings it to 52 MPG.

The newer, ZVW30, has lower aerodynamic and rolling drag with a larger 1.8L versus 1.5L engine. I have to exceed 80 mph (128 km/h) to get in the 39 MPG range.

Bob Wilson

p.s. One caution, reports that Prius owners buy them for the image of being 'Greener than Thou' that is pure utter nonsense from Jeremy Clarkson . . . although there is the new Prius buyer ceremony:

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Old 08-03-2010, 03:02 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I have found the knee in the NHW20 Prius' curve to be around 65mph... that's where the FE start to really drop off, so when I am driving, I set the cruise at 64, when my wife is driving, she sets it at 69, I get 50 mpg, she gets 45 mpg. Going 55 only returns marginally better FE numbers under normal driving conditions.
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Old 08-03-2010, 04:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Maybe someday if our family outgrows it, we will go to a minivan as the primary vehicle, and I will get the Prius
Oh Lord help us.
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:21 PM   #19 (permalink)
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TDi

Two items I want to comment on.

TDi over Hybrid
In test driving 2nd Gen Prius vs 2009 Jetta TDi Wagon (kids, stuff to move, etc), we decided on the TDi. My wife (primary driver) and I both liked the way it performed. One big selling point for us was the automatic shifting manual transmission with dual clutch. The smoothest shifting 'auto' I have driven. Would we have selected differently if the 3rd Gen Prius was out? Not sure, have not driven one yet.

Something I have noticed in wishing we could get more TDi options here in the US vs Europe. In the US, there is almost no competition for the car*. In Europe, it appears from afar to have a great system of buses and trains that seem to make it quite easy to not own a car.

I think if there were more public transportation and it was wider spread, then car manufacturers would have to do better, offer more options to compete with the public transportation system.

Here in the US*, you pretty much have to have a car and for most families, more than one. And if that is not the actual truth, it is the assumed truth and it will take time and changes to make that so. I think telecommuting helps, but so would trains and buses.

Just my wacky opinion.

(* There are a few cities with great public transportation that I have experienced first hand, like DC, but that is the exception, not the rule.)
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Old 08-04-2010, 01:13 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ldjessee00 View Post
(* There are a few cities with great public transportation that I have experienced first hand, like DC, but that is the exception, not the rule.)
The problem with that of course being that to use the public transportation, you have to live in a city :-(

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