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Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Hybrid Cars, Fuel Efficiency (MPG)
#1 of 257 Toyota Prius and Honda Hybrid: Will anyone buy them?
Jul 11, 1999 (3:14 pm)
What do people think about the soon-to-be-released
Toyota Prius and Honda Hybrid? Will people buy
them for the novelty of it, to save money on gas,
or to help the environment? Or will people ignore
it in droves due to the newness of the technology
and the fact that gas prices are so low? And how
many people would buy it to help the environment?
What does everyone think?
#2 of 257 Will they? or should they?
Jul 11, 1999 (9:14 pm)
I wonder about this too, but, more than any other factors, I think that the American buyer will consider them in terms of style vs. performance. I can't think of any times where the newness of a technology has stopped sales. Novelty might account for initial sales, but I don't see that lasting long.
I think the environment and gas mileage issues would be the major considerations. Will they buy them for these reasons? Probably not, but I do think that they should.
I recently purchased a Honda CRV. A few of my many motivations were that it supplied the same cargo and people capacity as the larger sport-utes, but gets 22 to 25 mpg and has the California emissions option. Were I in the market for a small sedan, I would have considered multi-fuel technology. I think that there are others out there who think along these lines, but the main factors in the US market will always be horsepower and image. In my opinion, it's still too soon to expect a profit from these vehicles.
#3 of 257
Jul 12, 1999 (7:33 pm)
I don't think we can or should expect Americans as a whole to be altruistic enough to purchase overly expensive, poorly performing, untested vehicles for altruistic purposes.
I was considering an electric car until I realized that for the price of a pokey compact with a miniscule range I could get a Porsche. Next door to my office is a dealership that sells Sparrows, which are basically one-person, three-wheeled, enclosed electric motorcycles. Price? $12,500.
I know hybrids perform normally, but I still think you're going to have to give people more economic incentive to buy them. Helping the environment won't be reason enough.
According to "Electrifying Times," "Toyota is losing money on every Prius sold -- more than 25 percent of the sticker price at $17,000. That price is less than half that of Toyota's electric car but still nearly $8,000 more than the similarly sized Toyota Corolla with more frills."
When buyers don't have to choose between one Prius or two Corollas, maybe the Prius will have a chance.
Jul 13, 1999 (2:27 am)
Did you mean to say "$17000?" If you did, you can't get a Corolla for $9000. And you certainly can't get two corollas for $17000.
If it was an accident then could you post the correct price. I'm kind of curious what the prius costs.
#5 of 257
Jul 13, 1999 (6:56 pm)
Yeah, you know, I thought it was suspect too. As I said, I lifted that quote from "Electrifying Times" (www.electrifyingtimes.com), which was the fiest place I could find any mention of a Prius's price. The sentence is confusing. Ignore it.
I did a little more research and found one site that claimed Priuses were being sold in Japan for $16,500 US. Another says that the Prius will sell in the US for $20,000 "nicely equipped." That sounds like a good price point to me. However, a third site (www.evworld.com) said:
"Industry observers estimate that Toyota is losing something like $16,000 for every Prius it sells. This is because it costs between $35,000 and $40,000 to build, while Toyota sells the car for less than $20,000. One might call this the price of "one-upsmanship." Whatever Toyota's motives for selling the Prius at a sizable loss, there is no disputing the fact they have created a technological tour d' force that is the envy of the automotive world."
So kudos to Toyota. However, this is obviously not a profitable route. Possible scenarios from here:
1. They reduce production costs through economy of scale-- Best case scenario. Prius keeps selling for 20K but doesn't hemorrhage money for Toyota.
2. They eventually start selling Priuses for $40,000, and everyone who would buy a Prius buys a Boxster instead. Or two Corollas.
3. The prices of all other Toyotas go up to subsidize Prius sales. People start buying Hondas instead.
4. Toyota discontinues the Prius.
Does anyone have any suggestions how else this might go?
Jul 13, 1999 (10:22 pm)
There's another economy at work here and Toyota and all other manufacturers are hard at work trying to build vehicles that will score 'eco' credits with governmental bodies.
The Prius will set a standard for hybrid vehicles. It is roomy, relatively quick (faster than a Geo Metro , and cheap to operate. They don't necessarily want to sell 'tons' of them (we lose $1 on every one we sell, but we make it up in volume . What will work against Toyota is the Honda Insight. It is a similar hybrid with better mpg (and possibly emissions) but is a much smaller vehicle.
The hybrids would have much better mileage if they used diesel engines, but they won't use them because CARB considers diesel effulents toxic. (You see, it's not mileage that's important, but emissions. The Prius meets SULEV standards.)
All things considered (in particular the power utilities method of generating electricty) the hybrids may prove to be more 'eco'friendly than an all electric vehicle.
There have been reviews of the RHD Prius in several papers and Toyota is working with families to try to get the cars in consumers hands. The ~ $20K price is a good guess.
They will meet their targets with this vehicle and to be honest, they may face a delimma on how many they can afford to build based on what should be decent demand.
There was an annoucement recently that Toyota and GM will be working on hybrid vehicles together. Jim Mateja reported that possibly Chevy could end up with a hybrid based on the Prius (or the next gen Prius). Hmmm... someone else to share costs with.
Look for a lot more information on the Prius after October 1st.
#7 of 257 eco and the oil man
Jul 14, 1999 (12:05 pm)
i for one am tired of paying for so much gasoline.
i am also tired of the choking smoggy air and the dismal traffic jams with all the dirty idling cars. the oil companies loath the introduction of any fuel efficient cars and have lobbied hard to make us all feel they won't work. if the public demands it, they will build them and there is might in numbers and dollars. ford and gm better take heed. japanese hybrids are coming to the usa and i want one.
#8 of 257 Well............................
Jul 14, 1999 (2:01 pm)
Electric cars DON'T work. That is why we are talking about hybrids. I think there has been a lot more hype for electric than against it so I don't think you have a good case for there being lobbying against them. When the performance and comfort and ease of use of the Hybrids and the other low emission vehicles come into the mainstream, people will buy them. Until then they will be cars for a small percentage of people that have extra money to pay for an extra car that they don't really have to depend on as their main vehicle.
#9 of 257 not practical
Jul 14, 1999 (2:35 pm)
The hybrids are just not practical in my eyes. They are small, low performance cars. So they are targeted at the Economy car segment of the market. Yet, they are signicantly more expensive than any economy cars that I have ever seen, and worse in performance than most economy box out there. As of now, it doesn't make sense to own one except for novelty sake. People could argue for enviroment friendly aspect of it, but since most of us are still going to be driving the normal cars, one or 2 hybrid cars are not going to change anything.
Right now, the technology is just not there to produce a good electrical car (energy capacity of the batteries we have is just not sufficient), a hybrid in the end is just trying to merge 2 car into one (a gas and an electrical). Therefore the cost of what amounts to 2 cars will always be more expensive than the single gas engine cars (at least for the foreseeable future). So I think Toyota and Honda are making a mistake for putting these cars on the market. But then again, maybe the political correct statements from such actions is worth it?
#10 of 257 ejs
Jul 14, 1999 (7:53 pm)
"...the envy of the automotive world" huh? What world?--Pluto? Let's see -- slow, ugly, roomy as a sardine can, suicidally unprofitable; now there's a recipe for success. I think the Edsel was "the envy of the automotive world" once, too. Here's the 4 people in America that will buy one: Al Gore, Ted Turner, Barbara Streisand and Ralph Nader (if it's crashworthy). Oh, sorry, pene1 wants one also. As for me, I'll wait for Hennessey to come out with a solar-powered, Venom 650 Viper. That's a p.c. vehicle I can rally around.