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Old 08-14-2008, 01:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Secrets to Better Gas Mileage Program ... please help raise ECO awareness!!!!

When I was shopping for a more fuel efficient car, I made an Excel program to factor in all the costs, do MPG comparisons, decide whether a new hybrid made sense for me, etc. I figured this would be helpful to others to use as well. You can figure out whether or not spending money on a modification is worth the investment, see what kind of money you could save if you got a certain MPG, and whether or not buying that new more fuel efficient car makes sense financially.

Below is an example of what it looks like and a link that goes to an active spreadsheet program. You can make changes to it to for your needs. It's very easy to use, just follow the 4 steps and it will do all the math for you. You can also save it to your own computer by clicking the "export" button at the top right area.


Click here to view the program "Secrets to Better Gas Mileage"




I'm also going to put this on Digg.com to get more awareness out there. Please make sure to digg it here: CLICK HERE TO DIGG THIS ARTICLE AND RAISE AWARENESS Then click the DIGG icon at the top left (make an account real quick, only takes a minute).


Last edited by Markmysite; 08-14-2008 at 06:07 PM..
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Old 08-14-2008, 03:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It's interesting to note that if you drive the average 15,000 miles per year ... increasing your MPG from say 32 to 35 mpg will only net you about $13 in savings per month. This is about 3 gallons of gas per month, which equates to about $156 per year in savings. This will obviously go down if you drive less, which is why this excel sheet works well to track your costs.

Increasing your mileage by changing from a huge SUV from 10mpg to a mid size car that gets 20mpg, will save you a lot more than going from a gas car that gets say 25mpg to a hybrid that gets even 50mpg. The cost savings aren't usually there unless you do huge miles.

I figured that I would have to drive over 40,000 miles a year to make it even compared to a Vibe (using average combined EPA mileage estimates ... and that's if I bought new). I would have to drive over 60,000 miles per year to justify a new Prius over my used 2007 Vibe that cost $11,800.

I'm also using this to determine if mods I make will be economical or not and to determine the ROI (return on investment) while figuring the impact of using less gas for the environment of course.

Last edited by Markmysite; 08-14-2008 at 03:35 PM..
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Old 08-14-2008, 05:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Markmysite -

Just spent some time on the URL. When you crunch the numbers it becomes a no-brainer.

I can't remember the URL, but there's this dude who basically said that no new car is worth buying these days. The best thing to do is buy a (good pedigree) used car that is about 3 years old with low miles. Your $12K Vibe sounds pretty close to just that car.

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Old 08-15-2008, 12:35 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfg83 View Post
...there's this dude who basically said that no new car is worth buying these days. The best thing to do is buy a (good pedigree) used car that is about 3 years old with low miles.
I'd go further than that. If your primary interest is in saving money, buy a late '80s - mid '90s Honda Civic or CRX.
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Old 08-15-2008, 03:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
I'd go further than that. If your primary interest is in saving money, buy a late '80s - mid '90s Honda Civic or CRX.
Yup, for us that's true.

I think he was talking to the "general populace" that was racking up debt with bigger and bigger monthly car payments. His exmaple was people that get a new small car to "save on gas" but take on a brand new car payment to do so !!!!

I gotta find that URL.

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Old 08-15-2008, 08:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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A descent spreadsheet with a few (IMO fairly large) flaws. The first being that gasoline is not going to be anywhere near $4 in 5 years. The next is that it doesn't take into account maintenance which you mention. Including maintenance costs actually favors hybrids because they don't need new brakes, the batteries don't die (less than .5% have been replaced), and general wear and tear is less because the engine just doesn't run as much. This can also be a huge issue if your talking about a lower quality vehicle vs a higher quality vehicle. A coworker of mine asked me why I paid $10k for my Matrix while he only paid $7k for his Sable (similar miles and year). He has had that thing in for repairs half a dozen times in the past year! I didn't answer his question so as not to offend him, but I knew the answer. The last would be insurance as you stated in your spreadsheet. This will also have a pretty large impact on monthly cost.

On the topic of hybrid vs non, you also compare fairly inferior cars to the Prius which IMO is a bit unfair. The Prius is a roomier vehicle than both the Vibe and Fit. Obviously the smaller cars are going to cost less, and thats not even considering the options that come standard on a Prius vs. having to pay extra for them on the others (this is my sore point on hybrids, gimme a freakin base model without all the fancy junk!). Generally, after about 5 years, the hybrid premium has paid for itself and you are not only operating a cheaper vehicle, but also one who is more environmentally friendly, and helps with national security (your spreadsheet doesn't put a value on either of those extra benefits).

I think Brick from cmpg said it best when he said that everyone seems to criticize hybrids purely based on cost. Why does no one do this when it comes to performance models of the same vehicle? What is the ROI on the GT model of a car, or the luxury version? It doesn't ever return! Yet, they still sell quite well. So, by saying you have to pay an extra X amount of cash each month (which will eventually be a negative number and cash back in your pocket) your basically saying that the environmental benefits, reduction of oil use, and national security benefits are not worth it. It really just doesn't make sense to me why money is the only thing considered. Those other three things are more important than a few bucks a month.

That being said, I do agree an older used car is definitly the way to go if you are trying to save money. That is what I did. I couldn't afford a brand new Matrix when I was looking. If I could afford it though, I'd definitly have a used Prius in the driveway.
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Old 08-15-2008, 09:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
A descent spreadsheet with a few (IMO fairly large) flaws. The first being that gasoline is not going to be anywhere near $4 in 5 years. The next is that it doesn't take into account maintenance which you mention. Including maintenance costs actually favors hybrids because they don't need new brakes, the batteries don't die (less than .5% have been replaced), and general wear and tear is less because the engine just doesn't run as much. This can also be a huge issue if your talking about a lower quality vehicle vs a higher quality vehicle. A coworker of mine asked me why I paid $10k for my Matrix while he only paid $7k for his Sable (similar miles and year). He has had that thing in for repairs half a dozen times in the past year! I didn't answer his question so as not to offend him, but I knew the answer. The last would be insurance as you stated in your spreadsheet. This will also have a pretty large impact on monthly cost.

On the topic of hybrid vs non, you also compare fairly inferior cars to the Prius which IMO is a bit unfair. The Prius is a roomier vehicle than both the Vibe and Fit. Obviously the smaller cars are going to cost less, and thats not even considering the options that come standard on a Prius vs. having to pay extra for them on the others (this is my sore point on hybrids, gimme a freakin base model without all the fancy junk!). Generally, after about 5 years, the hybrid premium has paid for itself and you are not only operating a cheaper vehicle, but also one who is more environmentally friendly, and helps with national security (your spreadsheet doesn't put a value on either of those extra benefits).

I think Brick from cmpg said it best when he said that everyone seems to criticize hybrids purely based on cost. Why does no one do this when it comes to performance models of the same vehicle? What is the ROI on the GT model of a car, or the luxury version? It doesn't ever return! Yet, they still sell quite well. So, by saying you have to pay an extra X amount of cash each month (which will eventually be a negative number and cash back in your pocket) your basically saying that the environmental benefits, reduction of oil use, and national security benefits are not worth it. It really just doesn't make sense to me why money is the only thing considered. Those other three things are more important than a few bucks a month.

That being said, I do agree an older used car is definitly the way to go if you are trying to save money. That is what I did. I couldn't afford a brand new Matrix when I was looking. If I could afford it though, I'd definitly have a used Prius in the driveway.
I agree with some of your points, but not all.

Interior space ... If you compare the interior space of a Prius, Vibe/Matrix and a Fit you'll find that they are very similar in size inside. The Prius batteries eat up a lot of interior space.

In order ... Fit ... Vibe ... Prius

front leg room 41.9 " 41.8 " 41.9 "
rear leg room 33.7 " 36.3 " 38.6 " (ok Fit is much less here, Vibe less too)
front headroom 40.6 " 40.6 " 39.1 " (Prius less here)
rear headroom 38.6 " 39.8 " 37.3 " (Prius less here)
front hip room 51.2 " 51.7 " 51.0 "
luggage volume 21.3 cu.ft. 19.3 cu.ft. 14.4 cu.ft. (Prius much. much less ... due to batteries)
luggage volume (max) 41.9 cu.ft. 54.1 cu.ft. 14.4 cu.ft. (Prius doesn't list with seats down ... but it is less)
Passenger volume 90 cu.ft. 96 cu.ft. 96 cu.ft. (Fit is less. but Vibe is identical)

Maintenance ... I also think that the maintenance costs on a base Prius vs. a base Vibe/Matrx/Corolla engine would be similar if not less on the Corolla engine. That 1.8L has one of the lowest maintenance costs of all modern engines. The Vibe is also GM which has a 100K miles warranty so that would surely be cheaper if repairs are needed (tough to quantify that though).

Gas cost ... Good point and who knows where it will go from here. It is expected to stay neat the $3-$4 range for another year though. In 5 years it could be better ... but my bet is it will be worse.

Insurance ... would be more on the Prius of course (higher cost and theft rate?).

Environmentally friendly ... the Prius is better on gas and certainly has a lower Carbon footprint. My only concern is what we do with all those batteries in 10, 20, 30 years

Still, the point of the spreadsheet was not to just compare these 3 cars. I only have them on there because those were the 3 that I was shopping (needed cargo space to haul large equipment for work, and I drive a lot of miles so I wanted the best bang for my buck for a work car).

The spreadsheet is a tool that you can use and change values for for your situation and buying interests ... and then see how the numbers add up for you (on any cars). I learned that it didn't matter if I got even over 100mpg in a Prius. The cost still didn't add up compared to a new Vibe (and I bought a used one).

Last edited by Markmysite; 08-15-2008 at 10:17 AM..
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Old 08-15-2008, 01:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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hybrid battery replacement

Here's an article that shows good promise for longevity of the NiMH battery packs.

Motor Authority » Toyota Prius taxi tops 340,000mi, dispels battery myth

"Two of the older examples have managed a lifespan of 350,000km (218,000mi) and 550,000km (341,000mi) before needing replacement of their nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. The only problem even at the end of their battery pack service life was a low voltage reading."

So if you ended up buying that used Prius with 125K miles on it ... and have to replace the battery pack in less than 100K miles like they did on one of the older cars in service ... you are looking at tagging on anouth $3,000 to that cost ROI.

An interesting Newsweek article states:

"Still, hybrids don't hold their resale value as well as their gasoline powered siblings."
Source: http://www.newsweek.com/id/138808/page/2

A really funny article about why you never ever want to let your Prius battery die completely: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articl...-ever-741.html


Last edited by Markmysite; 08-15-2008 at 02:05 PM..
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