hybrid cars-what are they like, are they the wave of the future?

What are hybrid cars really like?
Owners–please tell me about it from your practical experience. How much gas do you save?
(Great Debates territory:
And if they are so great, why don’t we hear more about them?
And why doesnt the government offer incentives
(tax deductions, etc), if hybrids could reduce dependency on Saudi oil)

How good they are probably belongs in IMHO
This site has lots of Prius links:
Expect Toyota to advertise the 2004 Prius once they fulfill pre-orders. (They have already placed a 12 page advitorial in certain magazines)

You can get a $2000 federal tax deduction if you get a qualified hybrid by Dec 31, 2003 (drops to $1500 in 2004)

Your state may have additional tax incentives.


People do hear about hybrid vehicles, but there’s not really a whole lot of choice yet. You have the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. They’re both small, “Japanese” cars, and they both continue to burn gasoline. And for the fuel savings you get, you pay a heck of a lot as a premium for being a guiniea pig. That said, I’ve heard that people that buy them love them, but you have to be predisposed towards tiny vehicles. We’re an SUV/big-car country (in the USA and Canada), so until we get a decent-sized vehicle with an alternative drive system, the Prius and Insight will continue to be niche vehicles.

Oh, wait, Ford is introducing an Escape hybrid soon. While it’s a smaller-sized SUV, as a vehicle overall it’s a good size. Expect it to really change the pace and face and acceptance of hybrid drivetrain technology.

I don’t know what Chrysler’s doing. Maybe advanced diesel due to their German overlords?

GM seems to be putting their hopes in non-hybrid, gasoline-consuming vehicles, whereby the gasoline via enzymatic reactions will generate clean-burning hydrogen to power their vehicles. Kudos to GM, though, for their early market testing of the EV1 (battery-powered electric vehicle, only available via lease in California and Arizona).

There is also a hybrid Civic.

The 2004 Prius is classified as a midsize.
Toyota is coming out with a hybrid SUV next year. (Ford has delayed its Escape)

GM won’t let people buy EV1s, even tho people want to.


Current hybrids, for what it’s worth, get about the same fuel efficiency as a comparitively sized diesel engine. So while they’re interesting, they’re not revolutionary.

In addition to good gas milage, hybrid cars have low emissions. Diesels are a lot cleaner than they used to be, but nowhere near as clean as hybrids. (That said, IIRC Toyota is planning on making a diesel-electric hybrid). Heck, the Prius has a special bladder gas tank to contain vapors. And the coolant is stored in a thermos device to keep it warm (the emission control device(s) work better warm)


I think the EV1 has been discontinued and they were trying to pull it from the market.

The Prius looks reasonably priced, gets amazing gas mileage, and Toyota has a rep for quality. The only downside is size, but I’d buy one in a minute, should I need a new car.

I too think Hybrids are neato. I am curious though as to how they would stand up to cold Canadian winters… (or cold winters anywhere for that matter)

Is -40 going to be a problem for them? How about heating the passenger compartment?

I know they are attempting to make Diesels more commonplace in North America more sooner than later. They are introducing the Benz derrived 2.8V6 Diesel for the Liberty this fall/winter… and have whisepered about the PT Cruiser and Minivan going diesel as well.

By coincidence I just received an issue of a Chrylser magazine in the mail (they send it out to their customers). They mention in it that they already offer the PT Cruiser and Minivan as a diesel in Europe… so that may be quite soon if DC thinks there might be a market for it.

Lexus also has a hybrid coming soon.

The 2004 Prius has electric booster heater(s) that suppliment the normal heater that works off gas engine heat.

http://john1701a.com Had/has a 2001 Prius (just got his 2004). Not quite Canada, but Twin Cities in Minnesota.

Just the opposite, it really cooks.

It’s amazing how much heat comes out of the vents. The engineers at Toyota carefully designed the system to use the warmth from the engine more efficiently than with traditional cars. With previous winter morning commutes in my Taurus, the heater was worthless until I reached the bridge near my house. Now with the Prius, I have plenty of heat to warm myself before I reach that bridge. And on those extremely frigid days, like the -13 F degrees temperature Christmas Morning 2000, the interior become warm & toasty after just a few minutes of driving.


Bio-diesel (made from used fry oil and/or soybeans) is totally renewable and reduces diesel emissions significantly and can be used in any normal diesel engine. A place not too far from me opened where you can get B20 (20% biodiesel) at the pump. If I could get a diesel-electric hybrid I would DIE from the joy of it.

But how many donuts and French fries can you eat if you have to fuel your car with used fry oil. That could never be other than a tiny niche market.

If only Honda would build the 1990 Civic wagon again (I am still driving mine).

I have a 2003 Prius, and as far as day-to-day driving, it’s pretty much just like driving a regular automatic transmission car, with a few exceptions:

  1. When you come to a full stop, at a traffic signal or stop sign, the engine shuts itself off. Most of the time you don’t even notice it, though, because the engine is very smooth and quiet to begin with.

  2. You don’t have to go to the gas station as often. I nearly doubled my efficency over my old Saturn, which was admittedly not in the best shape when I traded it in.

  3. If you are used to a bigger or more powerful engine, the '03 and earlier Priuses don’t have an awful lot of pep (I think the '04 is a lot better in this respect), but I don’t particularly crave power, so it doesn’t matter to me.

It held up fine in last year’s Chicago winter, parked outside all the time, but last year’s winter wasn’t terribly severe.

No, no, you can also make it from soybeans. Totally renewable, use it in any diesel engine, reduced particulate emissions, keeps farmers in business, biodegrable, non-toxic. Certified by the ASTM and EPA for use as a motor fuel, meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act. In other words: totally sweet.

In latest news, Colorado schoolbuses are going to B20.

One advantage of hybrids is that they get good gas mileage in all conditions. A car that gets 45 to 50 MPG is not new. A car that gets that type of mileage both on the highway and in town is new. I own a Prius, and I can get 45 MPG in stop-and-go traffic as well as on the freeway. The only thing that really hurts the gas mileage is cold starts (which hurts the gas mileage of conventional cars, as well).

Lexus = Toyota

It looks like the German car companies aren’t looking into hybrids so much as working on powering their cars with hydrogen. I don’t have the time to say much now, but VW and BMW have both released hydrogen powered cars, and Germany is planning to build ‘hydrogen stations’ to help support the new vehicles. Mazda is also planning to put hydrogen rotaries in their new generation of Rx-8 sports cars.
Looks like Toyota and Honda are continuing to support their hybrids, and Honda may even put in a 400hp hybrid engine into their NSX, which would be cool for all involved. The Civic hybrid is said not to have as good mileage as either the Prius or the Insight, but it’s supposed to feel a bit more like a normal-sized car.
Does anyone think that gas prices should be raised in order to support new consumer transport technologies?

Toyota is bringing out a Lexus RX330 and another SUV hybrid in 2004 according to reports I have seen.

Hybrids are supposed to work fine in cold weather but I have seen reports of greatly reduced gas mileage in cold weather.

Supposedly Chrysler/Mercedes is more interested in fuel cells (hydrogen, methanol or other fuels) than hybrids.

There is a bit more interest in Europe in “plug in” hybrids. I think Renault and some other companies have these. These are hybrids with more battery/less engine that can be recharged while parked. Then they have a 20 to 30 mile range without starting the engine at all. For many people, the engine is hardly ever needed.