I like the thoughts of not burning gas but I don't think the current hybrid technology is there and I surely wouldn't buy one. However, If I had no choice in the matter, the Prius would be my pick.
Here's some interesting excerpts from Brock Yates at C&D:
While the greenies and their flunkies in the so-called major media palpitate over the future of the hybrid, the flinty-eyed analysts at California's J.D. Power and Associates have survey data that indicate a less than twinkling future for this complex and expensive alternative to the hated internal-combustion engine of the elites. The J.D. Power folks, who are usually right on the money in their forecasting, predict that 2006 sales among the proposed 17 hybrid models (cars and light trucks) are expected to total about 260,000 units, or roughly 1.5 percent of the domestic market. J.D. Power claims hybrids will grow to 38 models, both cars and trucks, by 2011 and will peak at a three-percent share. Toyota will hold its lead, with Honda in the hunt and Chevrolet, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler playing relatively minor roles.
Three percent of the total market? Wait a minute! The pundits tell us that hybrids are the futureat least until the fuel cell arrives (at about the same time they discover perpetual motion and cure the common cold).
But one of the most respected, high-powered engineering executives in the industry, speaking off the record, recently told me, "J.D. Power is probably right, although maybe a bit optimistic. Everybody in the hybrid market is losing money. The current units, which are very complex, cost about $5000 more than a normal IC engine. The buyer is paying about a $3000 premium, which means the manufacturer is upside down for about $2000. That, plus the fact that fuel-economy gains are less than people think, what with winter when the heater and defroster are used and summer when the A/C is in operation. Yes, there is a small improvement in city mpg, but it's negligible on the open road. Couple that with the still-undetermined cost of maintenance of the Rube Goldberg power units and the unknown life cycle of the battery packs, and the economic advantages become hazy at best.
I'm not exactly a betting man, but I'll give you 100 to 1 odds that if you're reading this nonsense you are not a hybrid-car owner. That's probably a good wager, considering that the new miracle vehicles are stuck at about a one-half-percent market share of the roughly 17 million annual new car and light-truck domestic sales and that you are vastly more likely to tear up the asphalt in a gas-swilling, earth-choking, mega-speed road rocket like the rest of us motorized Neanderthals.
Of course, if we pay attention to the Cassandra-like fulminations of the liberal media, we might be led to believe that hybrid vehicles are our only hope to save us all from ozone asphyxiation and indentured slavery to the Arab oil barons. To ignore their PC incantations and to continue our binge buying of conventional internal-combustion engines will, according to these all-knowing scribes and electronic chatterers, doom civilization to a dark age embroiled in a heat-soaked Sahara.
Yeah, maybe. Then again, maybe not. Yes, we understand the feds are giving a one-time $2000 tax credit to hybrid owners, and 16 states are offering come-on tax breaks ($1500 in Oregon, $4173 in Colorado), inspection exemptions, and single-driver use of HOV lanes as incentives.
Moreover, the hybrids being sold by Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Ford, and, soon, Chevrolet are all reasonably priced. Example: The hot-selling Toyota Priuswith a three-month waiting list in most marketscan be purchased for under $22,000 loaded (although most experts estimate that Toyota is taking a $2000 hit on each sale). The PiousoopsPrius costs about $5000 more to manufacture than a conventional Corolla and retails for about three-grand extra.
Now let's jump ugly about the whole situation and talk a little reality. The guys at Edmunds.com, who run hard numbers about the car business as well as anyone, estimate that a Prius owner would have to drive at least 66,500 miles annually for five straight years, or gasoline would have to soar to 10 bucks a gallon, to equal the cost of operating a cheaper, conventional Corolla.
Then we have the battery pack, that heavy lump of nickel-metal hydride juice boxes that presumably improve fuel efficiency (but not that much, according to our road tests). Although the warranties are for eight years or 100,000 miles, battery replacement will cost $5300 for the Toyota and Lexus hybrids, and the Ford Escape replacements run a whopping $7200.
Moreover, the industry types aren't talking about total battery life. Will they actually last 100,000 miles? How will this affect resale value? Will the systems stay at full efficiency, or will they slowly drain power as they age or operate under heavy use? These are questions that remain to be answered, understanding that storage batteries, be they dry cells in your flashlight or exotic Ni-MHs, all have finite lives and store less power with age.
And now comes word that the computer brain inside the gas-electric grids in some Priuses is tending to go nuts. This causes instant blackout stalling at either 35 mph or 65 mphthe latter possibly in the fast lane of an interstate where 50-ton semis running 90 mph can crush compacts like beer cans.
This brings up an undiscussed issue: At some point, all these hybrid batteries will die and have to be disposed of somewhere, somehow. These are hardly biodegradable items like spoiled vegetables. They are in fact self-contained toxic waste dumps. How and where millions of these poisonous boxes will be deposited in the new hybrid nirvana has yet to be considered, much less resolved.
And speaking of the environmental component (the glamour issue centered on the brave new world of hybrids), a number of EMT and fire crews have announced that they will refuse to rescue victims trapped in such vehicles, openly fearing electrocution or fatal acid burns.
As with the now-defunct electric-car miracle, where it was quickly realized that the national power grid could not energize millions of vehicles without massive expansion of horrorsnuclear generationthe dark side of the hybrid miracle is now beginning to surface.
Says a dealer friend whose immense franchise network includes several brands offering hybrids: "There is no advantage to owning a hybrid in terms of fuel mileage when the extra cost of the vehicle is added in. Period. Do the math. This is a feel-good purchase. Hybrids are a statement about the environment, and they simply do not square with economic reality.
"The truth is, although the Prius is selling like mad, hybrid Honda Accords and Civics are backed up on dealer lots. Why? Because they look like conventional Hondas, whereas the Prius has unique styling. It has an iconic status among the Greenies. Like it or not, that's real life."
Until hybrids become economically feasible in terms of cost, reliability, and valid fuel savings and make real sense regarding performance and disposability, we're going to be driving conventional internal-combustion-powered vehicleseither gas or diesel until rogue asteroids clean us all out.
I actauly would be stoked to get a prius, I drive a Land Rover disco wich is great for doing truck-type stuff baja runs, moab, ect. and I garunty that my road-bike gets better milage than your prius, and it's lighter but on runs up to mamoth or down to l.a. a prius would be pretty cool and i think charleiz threron drizes one so we would have something to talk about. slap some chromed out 22s on that bad boy and sip some gas! despite what justsomeguy says thats a cool ride