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"Hybridmania" continues to build momentum

Discussion in 'Auto Industry News' started by Rick, February 2, 2006.

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  1. Rick

    Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

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    "Hybridmania" continues to build momentum, with fuel prices still in flux and more auto manufacturers rolling out hybrid vehicle offerings. Here's a capsule report on some of the hybrid happenings this month.

    THE GAS GETS GREENER ... OR MAYBE LEANER -- Ford Motor Company is unveiling a hybrid research vehicle that runs on a combination of electric power and E85 ethanol, which is a formula of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The Ford Escape Hybrid E85 is the world's first hybrid capable of operating on E85, a renewable fuel that can be produced from American-grown corn. Ethanol also releases no fossil-based CO2, so its use as a fuel in place of gasoline reduces greenhouse emissions. Experts say that if 5 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet were powered by hybrids operating on E85 fuel, imports of foreign oil could be reduced by at least 200 million barrels of oil a year.

    HYBRIDS GET ALL THE BREAKS -- From federal legislators and state governors to insurance companies, lots of people are recognizing the importance of increasing the number of hybrids on American roads. Starting this month, hybrid buyers qualify for a federal tax credit that will replace a tax deduction. The credit is a more bottom-line benefit for consumers because it directly reduces a buyer's tax bill instead of simply reducing a buyer's taxable income. A Ford Escape Hybrid or Mercury Mariner Hybrid buyer, for instance, could get a $2,600 credit for a two-wheel-drive model, and $1,950 for the four-wheel-drive version. Meanwhile, New York Gov. George Pataki says he wants to renew the $2,000 personal income tax credit for buying a hybrid vehicle, and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has proposed a $500 sales tax credit for the purchase of any of nine brands of fuel-efficient vehicles, including Ford, Toyota and Honda hybrids. Other states are considering allowing single-occupant hybrid drivers to get out of the rush-hour crunch and into their high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Hybrid rewards are also extending to the private sector. Next month, Travelers Insurance will offer 10 percent discounts to hybrid vehicle owners in the United States. The company cited research that indicated hybrid owners fall into the "preferred insured category." Translated, that means they're lower-risk drivers.

    MARINER IS HYBRID MVP ... NOT BAD FOR A ROOKIE -- Just two months after it went on sale, the 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid became the first vehicle to be awarded Green Car Journal's "Green Car of the Year" at the 2006 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. The purpose of the award is to recognize environmental leadership in the auto industry. The jury, which included Journal staffers and auto industry and environmental experts, considered gasoline-electric hybrids, near-zero emission gasoline models, advanced diesels and vehicles capable of operating on alternative fuels. The jury selected five finalists based on research and driving experience, with an emphasis on vehicles that advance overall efficiency and functionality while decreasing environmental impact, before choosing the Mercury Mariner Hybrid as the winner.

    The 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid received Green Car Journal's first "Green Car of the Year" award.

    POWERING UP HYBRIDS -- J.D. Power and Associates released a new hybrid sales forecast this month that predicts gas-electric vehicle sales will hit 780,000 by 2012, up from 212,000 vehicles in 2005, an increase of 268 percent. Market share will go to 4.2 percent by 2012, from 1.3 percent last year. Biggest reason cited by Power: a greater number of offerings -- 52 models in nearly all segments, including full-size pickups, minivans and luxury cars, vs. 11 currently.

    HYBRIDS: 'BEST VALUE,' SAYS VINCENTRIC -- The best car deal in the industry runs on gas-electric power, according to Vincentric, a Bloomfield Hills, Mich., company that analyzes automotive value. Vincentric named its "Best Value in America" awards this month, with hybrid vehicles leading the way. The Ford Escape Hybrid, as well as hybrid vehicles from Toyota and Honda, won the "Best Value in America" award in their respective segments. Vincentric says it analyzed more than 1,800 vehicle configurations and computed the cost to own and operate each vehicle. Eight cost factors were calculated to determine the overall cost of ownership: depreciation, fuel, insurance, opportunity cost, financing, maintenance, taxes and state fees, and repairs. Hybrids benefited from three main factors, said Vincentric President David Wurster, who cited their strong fuel-economy ratings, strong residual values due to high demand and the federal tax credit that went into effect this year.

    HYBRID HOUSES? -- The keen interest in hybrid vehicles and their well-chronicled energy-saving benefits means it's high time for the United States to "go hybrid" with homes, says The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial this month. The Monitor advocated that the Energy Star program promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a good step, but the next generation in home building should be transitioning to zero-energy homes (ZEH). "Like a hybrid, the ZEH, as it's called, 'drives' and looks like a normal house," The Monitor wrote. "Flat, unobtrusive solar tiles cover the roof and augment power. Tankless, heat-as-you-use water heaters and super-efficient windows reduce demand. The result is a wash -- 'zero' net energy consumption once the house is built."The Monitor also cites the biggest problem with zero-energy homes: The cost-saving components can add a premium (as high as $25,000) to the initial house price. But they pay for themselves over several years, something that will sound familiar to hybrid vehicle buyers.

    HITTING HIS NUMBERS -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has come under fire for overestimating the mileage figures for vehicles -- particularly hybrids -- in its reports. Warren Woomer of Fort Hill, W.V., figured he was in good shape averaging 28 miles per gallon in his Ford Escape Hybrid -- 3 mpg below EPA highway estimates -- until he went to school on it. Woomer, an engineer who reads manuals and tracks mileage numbers, along with his wife, Betty, and other hybrid drivers, were invited to bring their Escapes to Ford Motor Company's Dearborn, Mich., headquarters. There they met the design and engineering team, who, among other tips, gave advice on maximizing fuel economies. After Woomer raised his tire pressure as advised, used cruise control as much as possible and drove at more consistent speeds on his hilly home roads, his mileage jumped to the EPA's 31 mpg highway. "I think people were really pleased that Ford took the time and effort to educate us," Woomer told The Charleston Gazette.
     
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  3. dtl 2k2 sport

    dtl 2k2 sport Well-Known Member

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    have you heard of any desiels making it into production, for the explorer or mtnr?? ie: voltswagon is doing it and it seems like a good way to go as we'll!!, I've heard that the explorer will be hybird in a future time, but just havent heard of a target date yet
     
  4. Bwana Bob

    Bwana Bob Active Member

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    Hybrids

    With all the talk about hybrids, I haven't heard a peep about a possible Explorer hybrid. A hybird Explorer that could get 25 mpg would be great. Ford plans to increase hybrid production, but so far they only have the Escape/Mariner.

    I don't really see a big advantage to hybrids, except in city driving.

    I haven't seen any hybrids with "a stick", and I doubt that the CVT would be as much fun or as "sporty" to drive as a stick tranny.

    The big question in my mind is how long does the battery last, and how expensive is it to replace?

    Even so, I would consider an Escape hybrid, if gas prices continue to rise, but I don't know about the payback. Is a hybrid worth it just for the "coolness factor"?


    Bob
     
  5. BrooklynBay

    BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    When the hybrids first came out, they were all about fuel economy. The latest trend to the hybrid now is to use the electric motor to augment the internal combustion engine to give it more power. They use a smaller gas engine, which is not as powerful as the larger ones, and combine its power with an electric motor. The power curve is very different for an electic motor compared to a gas engine. A gas engine develops its full power at wide open throttle, when an electric motor is capable of developing its maximum torque when voltage is first applied to it. It doesn't have to rev to it's maximum RPM like a gas engine.
     
  6. BrooklynBay

    BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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  7. BrooklynBay

    BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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  8. BrooklynBay

    BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    Here is an article called "the myths behind hybrids": http://autos.aol.com/article/hybrid/v2?id=20060222110609990001
    Updated:2006-02-28 19:16:51
    The Myths Behind Hybrids
    By BRADLEY BERMAN




    Five years ago hybrid cars were an unknown commodity. Today vehicles powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity are all the rage. Like any new technology, until you get your hands on it -- in this case, on the steering wheel -- it's hard to get your mind around it.


    If you are having a tough time separating hybrid truth from reality, you're not alone. The warp-speed adoption of hybrids into popular culture -- and into hundreds of thousands of American driveways -- has produced more than a little confusion and misinformation. Most industry analysts predict the continued growth of gas-electric vehicles, with estimates ranging from 600,000 to 1,000,000 hybrid sales in the U.S. by 2010, so this is a good time to debunk the 10 most prevalent myths about hybrid cars.


    1. You need to plug in a hybrid car.
    As soon as the word "electricity" is spoken, you think of plugs, cords and wall sockets. But today's hybrid cars don't need to be plugged in. Auto engineers have developed an ingenious system known as regenerative braking. (Actually, they borrowed the concept from locomotive technology.) Energy usually lost when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping is reclaimed and routed to the hybrid's rechargeable batteries. The process is automatic, so no special requirements are placed on the driver.


    Car companies explain that drivers don't have to plug in their vehicles, but a growing number of them wish they had a plug-in hybrid. The ability to connect a hybrid into the electric grid overnight to charge a larger set of batteries means that most of your city driving could be done without burning a single drop of gasoline.


    Can you say 100 mpg? So far, automakers have been reluctant to bring plug-ins to the mass market, claiming that today's batteries can't take the extra demand. Until a car company takes a chance on the great potential of plug-in technology, hybrids don't require plugging into the grid.


    2. Hybrid batteries need to be replaced.
    Worries about an expensive replacement of a hybrid car's batteries continue to nag many potential buyers. Those worries are unfounded. By keeping the charge between 40 percent and 60 percent -- never fully charged and never fully drained -- carmakers have greatly extended the longevity of nickel metal hydride batteries.


    The standard warranty on hybrid batteries and other components is between 80,000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer and your location. But that doesn't mean the batteries will die out at 100,000 miles. The Energy Department stopped its tests of hybrid batteries -- when the capacity remained almost like new -- after 160,000 miles. A taxi driver in Vancouver drove his Toyota Prius over 200,000 miles in 25 months, and the batteries remained strong (see BW Online, 12/28/05, "Taxicabs Start to Turn Green").


    There's little to no information about the cost for replacing a hybrid battery, because it hasn't been a requirement with today's models. When that day comes, owners will replace a single cell -- there are hundreds in a hybrid's battery pack -- or a module, not the entire pack (see BW Online, 1/05/06, "Pursuing New Power for Hybrids").


    3. Hybrids are a new phenomenon.
    In 1900, American car companies produced steam, electric and gasoline cars in almost equal numbers. It wasn't long before enterprising engineers figured out that multiple sources of power could be combined. In 1905 an American engineer named H. Piper filed the first patent for a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.


    With the advent of the electric self-starter in 1913 -- making gasoline engines much easier to turn over and get started -- steamers, electrics and hybrids were almost completely wiped out. The following 80 years, characterized by cheap oil, created little incentive for auto engineers to play with alternatives.


    The oil price shocks of the 1970s, and a growing awareness of environmental problems related to automobile emissions, sent engineers back to the drawing board. Research and experimentation by governments and car companies in the 1980s and 1990s led to the reemergence of hybrids in the U.S. in 2000.


    4. People buy hybrids only to save money on gas.
    Hybrid cars top the list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Going farther on a gallon of gas -- and thus reducing a car owner's tab at the pumps -- is a logical advantage of a hybrid car. But car shoppers seldom buy based purely on a logical economic equation. Besides, as critics of hybrid technology frequently point out, those savings seldom add up to the extra cost of buying a hybrid over a comparable conventional vehicle.


    So, if it's not to save money, why are more and more shoppers going hybrid? Many reasons: To minimize their impact on the environment, to help reduce the world's addiction to oil, and to earn technology bragging rights. Who was the first on your block to have a color TV? Who will be the first to drive a hybrid?


    The car you drive sends a powerful message about who you are and what you think about the world. Hybrid drivers take pride in letting other drivers -- especially those behind the wheel of gas guzzlers -- know that getting from point A to point B doesn't have to lead us to an uncertain environmental and economic future.


    5. Hybrids are expensive.
    At the beginning of 2006, hybrids were available in 10 different models ranging in price from $19,000 to $53,000. The most efficient models -- the Insight, Civic and Prius -- are available well below $30,000. By the end of the decade, more than 50 models are expected. By that point, hybrids will represent the full range of sizes, shapes and costs.


    Rechargeable batteries, electric motors and sophisticated computer controls do add to the cost of producing a hybrid car. However, as production numbers increase, economies of scale are expected to reduce those costs. Toyota (TM) plans to offer hybrid versions of all its most popular models and thus cut the incremental cost of hybrids in half.


    In the meantime, the hybrid premium -- usually estimated at $3,000 -- is mitigated by federal and state tax incentives, lower maintenance costs, and extraordinarily strong resale values. In fact, used Toyota Priuses are reportedly being sold at prices approaching the cost of new ones.


    6. Hybrids are small and underpowered.
    The Honda (HMC) Accord hybrid is the fastest family sedan on the market. The Lexus Rx400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid share the same 270 horsepower system. The Lexus GS 450h hybrid sedan, expected later in 2006, will exceed 300 horsepower with 0-to-60 performance below six seconds. And the Toyota Volta concept is a 408-horsepower scream machine. (See Hybrids for more information).


    These vehicles prove that adding an electric motor and batteries to the drivetrain does not intrinsically mean diminished performance. Combining a gasoline engine and electric motors gives engineers more control to emphasize fuel parsimony or speed, urban driving or highway cruising, large vehicles or small.


    General Motors' (GM) two-mode hybrid system, rolling out later this year in the Chevy Tahoe, is designed specifically to give drivers of full-size SUVs a V8 highway cruising experience and towing power -- without draining the gas tank.


    7. Only liberals buy hybrids.
    The long list of celebrity hybrid drivers includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Larry David. They zip around Hollywood in their Priuses and appear on talk shows extolling the virtues of hybrid vehicles. These celebrities, and other early adopters of hybrid technology, were primarily motivated by the environmental benefits. As a result, they created an easy target for naysayers to brand all hybrid drivers as tree-huggers.

    More Autos Stories
    Other auto articles from BusinessWeek:

    Long Road to Fuel Efficiency
    Classy Car Clubs
    Cars We Love
    In the ensuing years, Americans of all political stripes have become more aware of the economic and political costs of oil dependency. Conservative pundits claim that our petrodollars end up in the hands of repressive Middle East regimes and their patrons. As a result, we fund both sides of the war on terror. In addition, auto workers have grown more interested in fuel-saving technologies, recognizing that they bear the brunt of Detroit's reluctance to abandon once-profitable SUVs.


    Conserving fuel is now being championed as a way to tackle national security, jobs and climate change, all at the same time. Frank Gaffney, President Reagan's Under Secretary of Defense, supports bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress to promote the use of alternative fuels and hybrids.


    In an interview in National Review Online, he said: "It would stimulate far greater production of such fuels as biodiesel, methanol and ethanol, preferably in 'plug-in hybrid' vehicles that will permit electricity also to be used as a relatively cheap transportation fuel."


    8. Hybrids pose a threat to first responders.
    Now that hundreds more hybrid cars take to our roads each day, some critics have wondered if public safety agencies should be concerned about all those high-voltage battery packs zipping along at freeway speeds. Not too much. Turns out that a good amount of training -- and, in case of fire, lots of water -- should be most of what a first responder needs upon arriving at an accident involving a hybrid.


    Knowing a few basic things about hybrids -- the location and construction of battery compartments, the color (orange) used to designate high voltage cables, and the location of fuses that will isolate the electrical system -- is enough to help first responders save lives and remain safe in the process.


    Firefighters have coped with advancing automotive technologies for years, and they will skillfully deal with hybrid cars.


    9. Hybrids will solve all our transportation, energy and environmental problems.
    The hybrid car market is ramping up. In the past five years hybrid sales in the U.S. grew twentyfold, from 9,500 in 2000 to over 200,000 in 2005 (see BW Online, 12/28/05, "Sales Continue to Speed Up").

    From BusinessWeek

    The numbers are encouraging but must be viewed in the context of the overall car market. The 200,000 hybrid car sales in 2005 represent 1.2% of the 17 million new cars sold last year. If every new hybrid driver doubled fuel economy from 20 mpg to 40 mpg for 40 miles of daily driving -- an optimistic estimate -- then a gallon per hybrid car would be saved every day. That's a whopping 100,000 gallons per day chalked up to hybrid car drivers. But we've only reduced our daily U.S. consumption from 400 million gallons to 399,900,000 gallons.


    Market forecasters predict a continued annual doubling of hybrid car sales for the next few years. We could reach the major milestone of 1 million hybrid cars on American roads sometime in 2007 or 2008. Again, this looks promising until you consider that there are approximately 200 million cars in America today -- and over 700 million vehicles worldwide. If car numbers keep increasing at the present rate, there will be more than a billion cars and trucks on the road across the world in 20 years.


    Hybrid cars can only be viewed as a partial solution.


    10. Hybrid technology is only a fad.
    Hybrid technology is often pitted against fuel cells, diesel engines and/or hydrogen as the silver bullet approach to sustainable mobility. The greatest hope and investment has been placed in hydrogen fuel cells. Yet on Dec. 1, 2005, the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that even under the most favorable conditions, hydrogen vehicles would represent 30% of the global fleet by 2050. The failure of hydrogen-powered cars to materialize rapidly underscores the risk of focusing on a single solution.


    The debate over the future of automotive technology has now turned toward finding the best ways to combine systems and fuels in a single hybrid vehicle. The experience of mass-producing hybrid gas-electric vehicles has given engineers the insight needed to develop complex systems needed to combine multiple sources of power.


    Jason Mark, director of the clean vehicles program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told HybridCars.com: "Hybrid vehicles are the bridge between conventional vehicles and fuel cells." In an Associated Press interview, Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said: "I think everything will be a hybrid, eventually. It will either be a gas hybrid, a diesel hybrid, or a fuel-cell hybrid."


    2006-02-22 11:06:20
     
  9. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Remember, its only ugly on the outside

    I bought an 07 Toyota Prius last weekend. I've only driven it 60 miles, but I'm averaging 40 mpg according to the trip meter. Its one of just a few cars that get over 30 mpg but still has enough headroom so my head isn't into the headliner or against the door jamb.

    I'm keeping the Explorer, selling our 93 Toyota Pickup which was my commute vehicle.

    BTW, our gas prices in Nor Cal have gone up $.20 to about $2.68 / gal since the beginning of Feb.
     

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  10. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Update:

    Our gas prices are now $2.85 and up for 87 octane.

    I have 500 miles on the car and my average is now 42.9 mpg. That is about 2x what I was getting with the Toyota Pickup and close to 3x what I get on the same drive with the Explorer.
     
  11. IZwack

    IZwack Moderator Emeritus

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    congrats on the purchase dogfriend :D
     
  12. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Thanks. I really like it so far.
     
  13. BrooklynBay

    BrooklynBay Moderator & long time member. Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    I have a neighbor which has an older model. He ordered it with the touch screen navigation system. Do you also have that? Some people have added more batteries in the back to make it into a plug in over night hybrid. They claim that they get 200 MPG on the highway. I also understand that the user could set the percentage that the electric motor is on compared to the gasoline engine. Some hybrids use both simultaneously. It's possible that you could do this to obtain more power, but you will lose a lot of mileage.
     
  14. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Yes, mine has the touch screen navigation. It is also has a voice activated mode because it locks out some of the touch screen commands when the car is moving for safety reasons.

    I was going to get the bare bones model, but my GF talked me into getting the leather seats. The leather seats only come on the fully loaded version.

    My favorite feature (other than the gas mileage) is the Smart Key System. You can leave the key fob in your pocket and the car will sense your approach and unlocks the door when you reach inside the door handle. You press a button on the dash to start the car and the car will start as long as the fob is inside the car. You lock the car by pushing a button on the door handle, but you can't lock the doors until you remove the fob from the car.

    There are a lot of mods that you can do, but I probably won't do anything that could void the warranty on the HV battery pack. The HV battery (NiMH) is warranted for 10 yrs/150,000mi in California because it is considered to be part of the AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology- Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) emission system. The remainder of the emission system is warranted for 15 yrs/150,000mi.

    It is exempt from CA Smog Check until at least 2010, because they have not yet finalized the testing method.

    http://www.smogcheck.ca.gov/StdPage.asp?Body=/smogcheck/hybrid.htm

    The weirdest part about the car is that is doesn't have a "real" transmission. :eek:

    Toyota calls it a E-CVT (electronic constant velocity transmission) but it actually has a PSD (power split device) which is technically more like a differential than anything else. The gas engine and the two electric motor/generators are directly attached to different parts of a planetary gear set. The larger motor is attached to the ring gear, the smaller motor is attached to the sun gear and the gas engine is attached to the planet carrier. The ring gear drives the wheels. The gas engine can power the wheels or generate electricity or both at the same time. The wheels can be powered by the large motor or the gas engine or both at the same time.

    The design of the powertrain is brillant.

    http://www.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car5.htm
     
  15. briwayjones

    briwayjones Manual Master

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    Actually with the way Hybrids work you can't have a stick with one as the engine is not directly connected to the wheels. The wheels are driven by electric motors. All the engine does when it's running I believe is to create extra electrical power.
     
  16. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Actually, the Honda Insight was offered with a manual transmission.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Insight

    I believe that the Civic Hybrid also was available with a manual transmission a couple of years ago, but not for the 2007 version. The Honda hybrid has a different design than the Toyota hybrid.

    I test drove a Civic Hybrid in 2004, but the 2006 redesign eliminated any extra headroom. I can't see anything above eyelevel out of the windshield in the new Civic.
     
  17. briwayjones

    briwayjones Manual Master

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    That's right. I was thinking all the current hybrids are the same basic design. The Insight is not a full hybrid I think it's called. It can't run with the engine off entirely on electric power. The Prius and I believe Escape can though.
     
  18. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Yes, the Prius can run just using the electric motor at slower speeds. In fact, in reverse it can only use the electric motor because it doesn't have any reverse gearing. You have to be careful for people walking in back of the car because they don't hear you coming. :cool:

    On normal acceleration from a stop, the electric motor starts the car moving (295 lb ft from 0 - 1200 rpm) then the gas engine starts at about 12 mph. One of the reasons it has a better EPA rating in the city is because in stop and go traffic, it shuts the engine off and just runs off of battery power.

    What is a real trip is to watch the energy monitor screen when coasting downhill and realize that the car is running with the engine off at 75 mph. :p:
     
  19. briwayjones

    briwayjones Manual Master

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    What kind of engine life can you expect on a Prius since the engine is constantly turning on and off?
     
  20. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human-Animal Hybrid

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    Carmichael, CA
    Year, Model & Trim Level:
    '97 Sport 4x4

    Attached Files:

  21. Rick

    Rick Pumpkin Pilot Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

    Joined:
    February 8, 1999
    Messages:
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    Media:
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    Albums:
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    Likes Received:
    887
    Trophy Points:
    143
    City, State:
    Wayoutin, Aridzona
    Year, Model & Trim Level:
    '93 XL Pumpkin Edition
    Callsign:
    AB7FH
    Just watch out for the smug alert!


     

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