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Business Week: What Makes a Hybrid Hot
Nov 5, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Several things are significant in this article.

  • It makes clear that one of the favorite features of Toyota and Ford hybrids is their "electric-only" mode (though, of course, they are 100% fueled by gasoline). Its popularity may have prompted Honda to incorporate in the 2006 Civic a "non-engine" mode for 25-35 miles/per hour, but the engine continues to spin.
  • The accompanying chart (see URL below) lists "days to sell" (industry calls it "days on the lot") for current hybrids: Prius 8 Lexus 400h 10 Toyota Highalnder 16 Ford Escape 34 Honda Civic 36 Honda Accord 56
  • The chart shows a "hybrid premium" for each car. Finally, a publication compares the Prius not to a smaller car, the Corolla, but to the mid-sized 5-passenger 4-cylinder Camry, and finds only a $1,150 price differential. (In fairness, of course, the Camry is sold at a discount, the Prius is not, but that is also reflection of market demand. And on the other hand, the Prius comes with many more standard features than the Camry.) Other premiums shown are: Lexus $11,110, Highlander $6,590, Escape $3,300, Civic $2,790, Accord $3,290. This is all significant in light of Toyota's recent statements that they aim to cut the premium in half in the near-term, to zero long-term as they offer HEV versions of all vehicles they produce.
  • You can comment about this at my blog,­blogs/­power/­bizweek-hybrid-hot­magazine/­toc/­05_46/­B3959magazine.htm
    Business Week NOVEMBER 14, 2005
    Green Machines
    What Makes A Hybrid Hot
    Buyers seem to prefer ones that feel, um, weird to drive

    With gas sky-high, hybrids should be red hot. Well, yes and no. While the Toyota Prius sells in eight days, the Honda Accord hybrid takes some two months -- just shy of the industry average -- to exit the lot, says J.D. Power & Associates Inc. (MHP ) The Civic hybrid is no Prius, either; it takes 36 days to move.

    Clearly, the Prius's conspicuous display of uber-greenness is key to its success. But it and the briskly selling Toyota Highlander, Lexus RX 400h, and Ford (F ) Escape hybrid SUVs also feature a radically new driving experience. It's quite a thrill to hit the accelerator and slip along in near silence. Not so for Honda hybrids. Because the gasoline engine is working most of the time -- getting an electrical boost during acceleration -- it drives much like a regular car. Honda says its technology is fuel efficient and cheaper, but that may not be enough to wow drivers.

    It doesn't help any of the hybrid makers that fuel consumption fails to match what's advertised. The Environmental Protection Agency ratings touted by car companies are based on lab tests, which don't reflect real-world conditions. For Honda, it's a double-whammy: fuel consumption that doesn't meet the EPA rating, and hybrids that don't drive in a way that surprises consumers.

    graphic at­magazine/­content/­05_46/­b3959200.htm
    Graphic: Hybrids' Vital Stats

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