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View Poll Results: How do you feel about hybrid SUVs?
Position #1 12 22.22%
Position #2 17 31.48%
Somewhere in between, possibly a wash 21 38.89%
Undecided 4 7.41%
Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-11-2007, 04:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Are hybrid SUVs a good or bad thing?

ABG just posted this story on new GMC/Chevy hybrid SUVs and it got me to thinking.

In September, GM announced their official MPG numbers for the new 2008 Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids. The EPA has now posted the official government verdict, and the numbers match what GM announced. The
two large hybrids share official EPA estimates: The 2WD versions get 21 city, 22 highway (21 combined) while the 4WD versions get 20 mpg in all those categories. You can find EPA's pages for the Tahoe hybrids here and the Yukon hybrids here. For comparison, the non-hybrid 2008 GMC Yukon 1500 2WD gets between 11 and 14 mpg in the city and 15 and 20 mpg on the highway (depending on engine type, fuel and how many speeds the transmission has).
Looking at the issue I see that there are two sides and a middle ground of sorts. The two sides as I see it:

Position #1: Hybrid SUVs are great, they use the most gas and if every vehicle were hybrid then there would be an instant, passive savings of %20 of fuel used. Everytime the market balance shifts towards hybrids, it is a good thing.

Position #2: Hybrid SUVs are a great example of greenwashing. Even if it's a hybrid, it still embodies everything that waste is about. It shouldn't seem "ok" to drive an SUV because it's a hybrid, people should all be driving cars. Hybrid SUVs just encourage SUV ownership, which is a negative trend.

What do you think? I personally fall in the undecided pile, as I haven't seen a study done on the purchasing patterns of hybrid SUV owners v. regular SUV owners, and I think anyone trying to say one way or another is blowing hot air (ペラペラフアフア)...that said I think the balance prolly tips towards #1, though I'll still vote undecided.

Anyone have any anecdotal observations?

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Old 12-11-2007, 05:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I voted for #2. I feel the same way about hybrid SUVs as I do about regular SUVs. They don't get good gas millage and most people could use other types of vehicles. Most people can get buy without 4 wheel drive. Minivans and wagons are a much better option for holding stuff or people.

Lets compare two fairly close engine sized vehicles. I assume the minivan wins out because of aerodynamics, weight, and less knobby tires.

2007 2wd Dodge Caravan 6cyl 3.8L (16city/23hwy)
2007 2wd Dodge Durango 6cyl 3.7L (14city/19highway)

The Durango can tow a lot more, but the caravan can hold more (volume).

Luggage Capacity: 23.5 cu. ft. Maximum Cargo Capacity: 129 cu. ft.

Luggage Capacity: 20.1 cu. ft. Maximum Cargo Capacity: 102 cu. ft.
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Old 12-11-2007, 06:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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meh. SUVs have so many things wrong with them.

-Immense use of resources in construction (that weight is primarily metal, which there are limited amounts of).

-Barn door-like frontal area, that an improved Cd can only go part way to fix.

-Weight that will cause extra losses during braking, even hybrid technology will not recover all of it. And also rolling resistance scales with weight.

-Increased danger in accidents to other, more responsible road users, due to immense mass. Go play GTA and run your hummer into a few bikes and small cars and see what happens, the physics models (collisions) are pretty realistic in terms of momentum conservation.

-they contribute irresponsible vehicles to the used car market. Most cars on the road will wind up being used far longer than the original owner uses them. Since it is people who aren't price sensitive buying new vehicles, their buying preferences dictate what everyone else will be driving in years to come, and this cost isn't shouldered by the original buyer.

Overall, this is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, and a hybrid drive train is just greenwashing.
"Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed." - Isaac Newton
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Old 12-11-2007, 06:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think that it kind of like car racing. Even though it might not be the most FE car around the technological benefits will filter to other cars and the cost will come down for all Hybrids that are out there. Unfortunately there will alway be people that want to drive something that they don't need. In this society there will always be people willing to pay for what they want and there will always be someone to build it.

I wouldn't say that I would vote for #1 because of the wording. But I think the more advancement we have the better for everyone.
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Old 12-11-2007, 06:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Fair enough, Z.

As for the points on greenwashing, I completely agree. However, I am operating on the caveat that I don't particularly believe that people are willing to change there behavior and I posed this question more out of my own wondering over (regardless of the silliness of hybrid suvs) they would reduce fuel consumption.

I mean, regardless of the thought that goes into it (sorry Kant), I wonder if moving the suv market towards hybrid-land would reduce consumption total or would increase it because people move more towards "green" suvs.
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think most people who buy suvs do so because they are trendy. So why buy a hybrid suv... guilt? Penny pinchers don't need hybrids since they cost more and don't offer much savings. Purists who actually care about the environment will likely buy something more sensible.

As for the iconoclasts among us, I doubt they would want to be seen in a hybrid suv.
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm a position #2 kinda guy myself.

I think that SUV's are generally an irresponsible, negative trend. As I see it "Green" SUV's will only serve to muddy the waters of more responsible transportation choices.

Lets consider that there are a segment of the public right now that are SUV owners or that aspire to be SUV owners in the future. A certain number of these people in the "SUV pool" will inevitably be concerned with the environmental and/or social impact of their SUV purchase. They are suffering from what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, trying to reconcile two diametrically opposed ideas inside their mind.
Idea 1 - I want an SUV
Idea 2 - I want to help the environment
Giving people the choice of buying a "green" SUV provides an immediate resolution to that market segments cognitive dissonance and assuring us of roadways that will continued to be dominated by light trucks and SUVs.

I look at that market segment "Green" SUV buyers as one would look at so-called "swing-voters" in an election.

To flog again an already-dead-and-much-beaten-horse one could compare this "Green SUV buyer" segment to people who voted for Ross Perot in the 1992 presidential election.
The Green SUV buyer is faced with a choice between two options he doesn't much like, Clinton (SUVs for our purposes) or Bush (sorry folks, here Bush will have to represent small efficient cars)
Since the Green SUV buyers will be casting their votes for Perot (the Hybrid SUV of this analogy) They will effectively be "stealing" votes away from the other two canditates.
As you may recall, Perot is alleged to have "stolen" enough votes away from Bush that Bill Clinton won the election for President.

This will at best effectively stall any real change, and at worst continue to enforce the "myth" of the wonderful SUV amongst the general public.

So there you have it, all two of my pennies.
"I got 350 heads on a 305 engine. I get 10 miles to the gallon. I ain't got no good intentions." - The Drive By Truckers.

Last edited by AndrewJ; 12-11-2007 at 08:47 PM..
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Old 12-11-2007, 09:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SVOboy View Post
I wonder if moving the suv market towards hybrid-land would reduce consumption total or would increase it because people move more towards "green" suvs.
This is indeed an interesting question. I think that people that would buy an SUV the mileage is the last thing they are looking at. They might pick one SUV over another because it get's better mileage but an SUV it would still be. Thus in agreement with postion 1. BUT

That being said I looked at the EPA rating for the 2008 and out of 60 family sedans 48 had combined EPA of 25 or less. Would these people buy what they might consider an upgrade (market hype) that gets 2-3 MPG more? I really don't know if they would so I'll lean towards postion 1.

Good question SVOboy.
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Last edited by Lazarus; 12-11-2007 at 09:18 PM..
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Being an SUV owner, driver, and do actually care for the environment unlike most people in the US, I will have to say that hybrid SUV's are more of a good thing than a bad thing.

Also, I have been in almost every automotive group you can think of, from the performance nuts at SCC, the having fun Jeeper's at Jeep Addicts, the neon covered cars people, the 4X4 people, the track/rally car people, the muscle car groups, and the guru's here trying to squeeze every bit of MPG from their cars. And I have to say that, everyone has they're own one group thoughts that everyone leans toward and makes fun of the other groups. The performance guys think that the guys who make they're car look like a hotwheels cars are retards and all that heavy show stuff is just slowing them down, The muscle car guys make fun of the performance/track racing Japanese cars cause they're car sounds like a dirt bike and looks like they're girlfriend should drive it. "it'd run better if you'd just drop a V8 in there!". The Jeep guys have a quote and act like there's no such thing as gas mileage, they think that it's all about having fun more than having a good stereo or big rims. And then there is the mpg people, who think everyone else is insane. That said, here's my oppinion on SUV's and why people buy them.

Most people that buy SUV's are either rich folks who don't give a S*** and want them 24" DUBs, The Moms who are paranoid about safety and won't get near a 2 door car, guys who want to make it into the ultimate off-road/ready for any natural disaster truck, and guys like me, who was looking for a first car and that's what came up, the price was spectacular, it ran good and any of the problems were an easy fix.

I know one thing.. my mom will never buy a car that only has 2 seats, 2 doors, or looks like I could accidentally run it over. That means she won't buy a convertible, festiva, metro, swift, miata, or anything that could drive under a semi while on the highway. She says they're too fragile, unsafe, and when you get in a head on collision they will keep going and you'll go the opposite way they went. Oh, and believe me I wanted to get a very small car, I was actually almost gonna buy a festiva but my mom wanted me to atleast have a car that wasn't smaller than even a compact car.

We found my Jeep, it was $2000, looked the way it does now, and ran well. sounds like a good one to me. I know that the times I almost got into a wreck cause people ran stop signs, they were in smaller cars, headed for the exact place you don't wanna hit me, the engine bay. I can guarantee that they would have flown somewhere and I would have kept going. The AMC 4.0L was made thicker and heavier than most I6's cause it was designed for vehicles that could take the weight of a V8, so the I6 has been deemed one of hardest motors to kill, and one of the best off-road motors ever built. It was rated at 20mpg highway. I achieve 21-23 combined mpg.

Not bad for a 4.0L heavy as crap I6 pushing around an SUV, Now safety isn't the only reason for buying, but that's what a lot of people buy it for. They want to be the ones to survive in a wreck, survive when it's flooding, Feel comfortable on those really long trips (oh the comfort!), and look intimidating.

Other people want it for an adventure, to go where no one has gone before, help people who are stranded in a blizzard surrounded by Hyundai's, Saturns, and Yugo's, and look intimidating. I can relate to this, it's a rush to try and get stuck out of that really bad one, it's funny when all of the cars are trying to get through the traffic jam, and you just drive through the ditch and get home in 5 minutes. Finding new places and exploring, it's like being an adventurer, searching the environment for things unexplored. Its really fun.

But for most people buying an SUV they're checklist goes like this,

Space for the family, comfort,
Safety, high off the ground for snow
4wd for the winter
other things that do with stuff that a van doesn't quite have
Dad will not look like a wimp

The thing that at the end that people look at is fuel consumption, and if there's a hybrid or non-hybrid for about the same price, they're gonna probably go for the hybrid, cause they're on a budget for more than just the family car. If they can save at the pump as much as possible then they will go for the hybrid. and what can a hybrid SUV hurt? not at all more than a regular gasoline SUV.

You can't always go with a car, nor a van I definitely know that they are worse than cars for the environment, but Compareing SUV's with SUV's, a hybrid isn't hurting anyone, It's just like removing the roof racks, it might not do much at all, but you know it's helping. Sometimes you have to look on the bright side and see that we're never gonna get rid of the SUV, so might as well accept the hybrid ones.

Yea.. I drive a Jeep and I'm on a fuel economy site, but you just wouldn't understand... "It's a Jeep thing!" *Jeep Wave*

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Old 12-11-2007, 11:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This is a tough one.

Generally, I like 2 mode hybrids (ones that can run exclusively in EV mode, as these new GM ones can) not because I believe they're going to make any meaningful difference in consumption in the big picture. I like them because regardless of why the manufacturers make them, and regardless of why some people buy them, they can and sometimes do unexpectedly open people's eyes to genuine alternatives.

I see 2-mode hybrids as vehicles that can potentially put people on a slippery, green slope. Unintended education.

And that's because I can personally trace a line from my first drive in a gen1 Prius to having built the ForkenSwift to having ridden my bicycle further this year for transportation purposes (vs. recreation) than in any other.

Predisposed? Probably.

I read a quote recently from the owner of a US NEV dealership who said many of the customers buying his EV's drove hybrids. Predisposed? Maybe.

But I like the idea that it's a slippery slope, and I can't shake the feeling whenever I see a 2-mode hybrid that the manufacturers have unintentionally cracked open Pandora's box, and it's causing more people to start asking important questions about the transportainment industry in general. (BTW, I like that word - transportainment - stole it from Phil Knox, if I recall.)

OK, perhaps a sliver of hybrid drivers, which make up a sliver of all drivers may experience this. But it's nice to be idealistic once in a while.

EDIT: so I guess my answer is really "none of the above", but it's probably closest to "Somewhere in between, possibly a wash."

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