Hybrid Vehicles Gaining Acceptance

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June 21, 2009

By Bob Difley

Johnson Controls, a leading producer of lead-acid batteries for passenger cars and trucks, including batteries for hybrid vehicles, commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a survey on Americans’ attitudes toward buying a hybrid vehicle. The online survey contacted 2,309 adults 18 years and older with the results weighted to reflect the composition of the US population for gender, education, income, ethnicity, and propensity to go online. The survey was conducted between March 9th and 11th, 2009 and revealed some interesting results.

Here are some of them.

· 84% think government should support the advancement of battery technology in this country.

· 90% of U.S. adults are open to choosing a hybrid if they were in the market for a new vehicle.

· 80% think financial barriers such as purchase price and/or insufficient cost savings prevent people from buying a hybrid car.

· 84% see incentives and tax credits as an effective way to encourage consumers to purchase hybrid cars.

Highlighting the need for both technological improvement, cost reductions and greater public education, the survey also revealed the following when asking respondents why they thought people were reluctant to buy hybrids:

· 49% of adults cite reluctance to sacrifice features such as size and horsepower

· 42% express concerns that hybrids might mean inferior performance, lack of speed, or a poor driving experience.

· 47% believe lack of understanding about hybrids in general prevents people from buying them

· 59% have no idea what the distinctions are between different types of hybrids.

It appears by this survey that public attitudes on hybrids in America have changed dramatically, though it is not yet reflected in sales. And maybe concerted efforts toward public education on hybrids would be a good idea for hybrid manufacturers.

As for plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), at least three Chinese car companies are planning on introducing EVs in the US in the next year or two. And Shai Agassi introduced his new battery-changing robot in Japan, which can remove and replace an EV battery in one minute—less time than it takes to fill a gas tank—and the driver stays in the car the whole time.

If you think of these battery changing stations scattered along major freeways and highways, the current limited range and battery-charging times of EVs may not be a big issue. After all, 98% of Americans drive less than 100 miles a day, and can recharge their EV overnight. So these battery-changing stations will be necessary only on longer drives. Now translate that to driving an EV RV across country, locating these battery stations for quick replacement taking less time than filling the gas tank. Is it far-fetched, or is it far-sighted?

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  434. Vegasdan

    Anyone else ever notice the Prius owners driving 10 to 20 MPH faster than anyone else? Is’nt that a wonderful way to save the planet? Battery replacements for the series one Prius is now only $2300.

  435. Vegasdan

    An interesting artcle from the Washington Post.

    The June 9 Business article “Toyota Wants New Prius to Be America’s Next Top Model” called the Prius an “eco-icon” and said that it has allowed Americans to “advertise their eco-correctness.” A Toyota spokesman was quoted as saying that many Prius buyers want to “make an environmental statement.”

    The Prius’s reputation as a “green” car is completely undeserved. The culprit is its nickel metal hydride battery.

    The nickel is mined in Sudbury, Ontario, and smelted nearby, doing damage to the local environment. The smelted nickel is shipped to Wales, where it is refined. Then it is sent to China to be made into nickel foam. Then it goes to Japan, where it is made into a battery. Then it goes into cars, some of which are shipped to the United States and some of which go to Europe. All of that seaborne transport consumes a lot of fossil fuel.

    CNW Marketing rates cars on the combined energy needed “to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage.” A Prius costs $2.87 per lifetime mile. By comparison, an H3 Hummer costs $2.07 per lifetime mile. Then there will be the problem of disposing of the used batteries.

    This is not a “green” car; it is a “brown” one.

  436. Drew

    Why does everyone want to support foreign governments? The Ford Fusion Hybrid is here!

  437. Darthvagrant

    Hers’a an interesting link on the hoax of hybrid fuel economy.
    Take notice of the non-hybrid Volkswagon vastly outdoing the hybrids. I think it VW was a ‘clean burn’ diesel.
    The FED just (for 2009 or 2008), took the hybrid manufacturers (and most others) to task for their inflated MPG figures. The MPG figures were determined by some kind of fuzzy math formula that was not based in any real road testing. These figures were essentially “interpolated” by the MANUFACTURERS. Sorta’ like the fox guarding the hen house.
    As a matter of record, the (hybrid) MPG posted “ratings” were formerly less accurate than those of non-hybrid vehicles. The vehicles delivering the closest stated MPG (in gheneral) were those of standard design, not hybrids. Hey! ‘Ya gotta’ do something to sell a overly complicated, underpowererd. limited range, maintenance nightmare for the exhorbitant priceof the hybrids.
    Pardon my derogatory opinion of hybrid vehicles. IMHO they’re overpriced, underpowered (for the most part) limited to dealer $$$!! service with the ticking time bomb of battery replacement costs. There are three times the system complexity to go haywire in hybrid vehicles as compared to a non-hybrid vehicle. They have violated the time-worn KISS cliche.
    Anyone waiting for workable hybrid LARGE vehicles (motorhomes for example) will see the second coming of Christ prior to this occurrence.
    I have two ‘toads’. 2006 Saturn ION Coupe and a pristine 1994 Suxuki Sidekick. Both exceed 30-32 MPg on the road. My 8-9 MPG motorhome is the vehicle I use to deplete the world’s fossil fuel reserves.
    My11,500 # motorhome pulling a 2400# toad and 400 # motorcycle, adjusting for its weight and the weight & MPG of my Miata, Suzuki Sidekick and Saturn, delivers an “adjusted” 32 MPG (at 9 MPG actual). I’m satisfied. If a person is going to drive what amounts to an 8.5′ wide overloaded bread truck with the frontal area of 2 barn doors and the aerodynamics of a box car, ‘ya ain’t going to get any MPG within reason.

  438. Roy Phillips

    I wonder about the brown outs after we switch to the ev’s, and what happens to the battery’s in the hybrid’s? A prius will be my next car, but will only have it a couple of years at the most. Had bought a new Toyota in 80-81, got 51 mpg. My last small car. Will drive the prius around town, but most miles i drive will be in a mega cab.

  439. Darthvagrant

    Prius average (truthful, documented) average mileage……http://www.priusmileage.com/

    (45.59 MPG).
    GM produced a “Hybrid” pick-up truck that produced 1 MPG LESS on highway driving than the waaaaay less expensive standard pick up.

  440. Dan

    One thing not mentioned, for those of us who keep a vehicle long term:
    What’s the cost of replacing a battery set?
    Bet it’s several thousand $$.

  441. Connie

    I love my Prius and, while I know that the battery is charged by a gasoline-powered motor, I also know that I can 50-60 miles for each gallon of gasoline that I buy for it. I’ve saying for the past couple of years that the next motorhome that I buy will be a hybrid. I don’t like the plug-ins. As far as I can see, it would cost as much, or maybe even more, for the electricity needed to charge the batteries. So I would rather have the system that runs the Prius. Now that I have seen that there is some movement toward hybrid morothomes, I’m anxiously awaiting mine.

  442. Mary

    The only problem I have with the hybrid vehicles is their lack of towing capability. I have researched them and found that they cannot pull very much if anything at all. We have a Chrysler Aspen that can pull 9,000 lbs but when I researched the hybrid of the same vehicle it was cut in half. They also make the hybrid vehicles (trucks and suvs) very pricey.

  443. Hybrid owners fancy themselves as being of the “green” generation. What most hybrid owners fail to come to terms with or realize, my 2006 Saturn and my other six vehicles burns EXACTLY the same fuel as a “hybrid”. Any current “Hybrid” is propelled 100% by means of fossil fuel. A hybrid moves EXCLUSIVELY by this means (fossil fuel).
    The electricity on which they may run VERY BRIEFLY and which assists the on board gasoline engine is generated ON BOARD by that GASOLINE engine.
    In the early 90s GM marketed Geo Metros manufactured by Suzuki that got over 50 MPG. They were priced at less than $3K.

  444. David Cross

    I would love to have a hybred. We had a Prius for a couple of years and loved it. My requirements are these.
    1. Must be flat towable.
    2. Must allow aux brakes controlled from coach.
    3. Must be 4WD to allow me to explore the back country when I park my coach.