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General hybrid car advice?

  1. Jul 31, 2007 #1
    Hey there,

    I am looking to buy my first hybrid car, but have really no idea about where to go for the best infromation. Frankly, the more general the information, the better - as I really have no clue what I'm doing! The only resource on hybrids and other fuel-efficient cars that I've found that is as general as I would like is http://fuelfriendlycars.com but I would like some other hybrid car resources as well. Any suggestions? Thanks -

    Ronny
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2007 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    I would check out the clean new diesels coming available. Head to head they get better mileage than hybrids [in the case of Honda significantly so], and this way you can use the applicable mix of biodiesel where possible. Volkswagen and few a companies already have cars out,
    http://mydrive.roadfly.com/blog/ExJxZ3/
    and two more are due to his the market any time now; one being the Honda civic diesel.
    http://www.buyyourcar.co.uk/New-Car/Honda/Civic-Diesel-Hatchback.aspx

    When run on biodiesel, these cars are likely the greenest practical option available today, and they are surely far more efficient - cradle to grave and average fuel economy - than hybrids.

    You should be noticing a new green [literally] diesel pump at some local gas stations.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2007
  4. Aug 1, 2007 #3

    brewnog

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    I'd have to agree with Ivan. If you're wanting fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness, get a modern turbodiesel and run it on biodiesel.
     
  5. Aug 1, 2007 #4

    ShawnD

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    A few problems with this.

    -Do not buy a volkswagen. They have major problems with quality. Any money you save on gas will go directly into repair bills. See: JD Power for quality ratings.

    -Not really a problem, but who makes the diesel engine in that Honda? I don't think Honda makes diesel engines (yet).

    -Diesel is not a "green" solution because each gallon of diesel releases about 20-30% more CO2 than a gallon of gasoline. In the end, they're probably about the same in terms of emissions.


    Diesel still looks like it's a long way off. Your choices are to either wait a couple years until these cars hit North America, or buy a Volkswagen and cry yourself to sleep at night :wink:
     
  6. Aug 1, 2007 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    However, biodiesel is carbon neutral. Also, with the higher mileage, even with regular diesel the CO2 emissions are likely completely offset.
     
  7. Aug 1, 2007 #6

    ShawnD

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    Yes it's true that biodiesel is neutral, but that doesn't even exist in most places. Normal oil diesel is unbelievably cheap (it's about 25% cheaper than gasoline in Canada), so normal diesel is what every pump has.

    There are many good reasons to get a diesel, but environment isn't always one of them. Hopefully we'll have diesel hybrids in a few years, then we can push gas mileage even higher.
     
  8. Aug 1, 2007 #7

    russ_watters

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    There are only about a half dozen hybrids out there, so depending on what kind of car you are looking for, you can just pick the closest fit to have a test drive.

    I'm undecided on biodiesel, but besides that I agree with the others that a modern turbodiesel is a very fuel efficient solution - they aren't significantly less efficient than a hybrid and don't have the extra baggage associated with them.

    Small point, but I don't buy that biodiesel is carbon neutral. It takes hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years to turn plants into fuel naturally, and if we speed up the process, we are increasing the CO2 output to the atmosphere.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2007
  9. Aug 2, 2007 #8
    I just got my self a 07 Toyota Hybrid and in 1k miles I'm averaging 58 mpg with about 5% or less of highway miles. My parents also have one (06 with 25k about 10% highway) and there averaging 56 mpg. So I definitely think hybrids are great cars. Heck I'm only on my second tank of gas since I bought this car.

    The one big thing that you have to remember when driving a hybrid is you need to drive it like we were taught to in the 70s. This link will explain it better.

    I do agree that diesel (exceptionally biodiesel made from Algae, and non corn ethanol for the alcohol) is the best future of personal transportation. That is until we can get an electric that can go 350-400 miles on a single charge, cost 18k for small 2 door (think VW Rabbit), and be good to go its full mileage in 5 min or less. I think this car is the best option until that electric car comes along.
     
  10. Aug 2, 2007 #9
    I think the argument that biodiesel is carbon neutral is from the fact is that the feed stock (used fryer oil, oil seeds, or animal fat) and the alcohol (ethanol) is all produced from things that were just living. Therefore all the carbon produced from burning biodiesel was already in the atmosphere, not locked away in a fossil fuel that has been burred in the ground for thousand of years.
     
  11. Aug 2, 2007 #10

    LURCH

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    If I were buying a hybrid, the expected lifetime of the battery and the cost of replacement betteries would eb one of my main concerns. A quick search turned up this discussion (which I've not read all the way through, but it gave me pause nonetheless)
    http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=135399&page=1
    Before reading that discussion, I had heard that the batteries generally go bad just about the time you're done paying for the car (about 5 yrs), and that replacing them costs almost as much as buying the car.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  12. Aug 2, 2007 #11

    brewnog

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    I don't quite understand this Russ, could you elaborate please? The idea of biodiesel being carbon neutral is based on the vegetable matter absorbing an equal amount of carbon (in CO2) from the atmosphere as it gives out when burnt. Usually there is some extra carbon impact from processing, but this isn't an inherent feature of biodiesel.

    I suspect I've missed something...
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  13. Aug 28, 2007 #12

    chemisttree

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    I recently bought a Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Wow! Its a big change from my usual daily driver... Honda Civic. My Honda was only getting about 25-26 mpg average was cramped and kind of puny on the power side (I'm 6'3"). The Mariner is HUGE in comparison! It easily fits the entire family (4) and has some room to carry stuff.

    I'M GETTING 33 MPG AVERAGE! Yeah, I have to drive it like a little old lady but not slower than the speed limit. When I get my foot into it I get 30 MPG. Not bad! The hybrid system is based on Toyota's Synergy system (Ford's implementation of the Synergy). It boosts power at startup using an electric motor and switches over seamlessly to a rather smallish 2.3L 4-cyl engine (atkinson cycle) at speeds over 40 mph. The electric motor is available to boost the modest horsepower of the 4-cyl when you want to get up and move. It has a continuously variable transmission and feels quite peppy! As such, it feels more like a small 6-cyl in performance and did I mention that I'M GETTING 33 MPG?.

    Regarding the battery life, Toyota claims that they have NEVER had to replace a high voltage battery pack due to failure since they have been selling their hybrids. They claim that they have put the equivalent of 150K miles on their battery pack without any noticable loss of performance. They and Honda (and now Ford/Mercury) now claim that the high voltage battery pack will last the lifetime of the vehicle. And one other thing, the IRS is still giving a $3,000 tax credit on the Mariner.
    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/tax_hybrid.shtml
    This will diminish over time once 60,000 units have been sold. Currently the Prius only has something like several hundred dollars credit left.
    The credit paid a significant portion of the extra cost of the hybrid system. I expect breakeven at 2.4 years...

    Did I mention that I'M GETTING 33 MPG?
     
  14. Aug 28, 2007 #13

    Chi Meson

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    This must be mentioned:

    Some people will not benefit from a hybrid. What is your use of the car? Do you have a lot of stop-n-go? If so, then proceed. If you have a rather straight shot on the highway, you will not realize much conservation.
     
  15. Aug 28, 2007 #14

    mgb_phys

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    Is that impressive? My Citreon saxo diesel did about 70mpg in the UK 10years ago.
    Volkswagon have a clever new diesel available in europe which switches the engine off when stopped. It can restart silently in a fraction of a second using energy stored in a flywheel - I don't remember if it also uses this for regenerative braking.

    I don't see the point in hybrids - isn't it easier just to have a small hatchback with a 1.2l diesel engine.
     
  16. Aug 28, 2007 #15

    Pythagorean

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    isn't there some kind of argument about diesel engines being less safe for people and the environment (more carcinogens an pollutants than gasoline?)
     
  17. Aug 28, 2007 #16

    ShawnD

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    That's basically a Ford Escape, correct? How is it going so far? Any problems? Minor things break? Does it handle good?
    My friend was thinking of getting a Ford Escape Hybrid since it's the only affordable hybrid SUV in Canada.
     
  18. Aug 28, 2007 #17

    mgb_phys

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    They create a lot more PM10 (10um particles) but modern car diesels filter these out, old buses and trucks aren't as nice.
    Having said that - if you care about the whole enviroment a 50% efficent diesel engine in you car is better than a 50% efficent coal station + a 50% efficent grid + a 50% efficent battery system.

    My wife uses the hybrid Ford Explorer at work here in Canada - other than when stationary it never seems to run on the electric power. In fact if you have the air conditioning on it needs to use the petrol engine even when stationary to run the compressor.
    I think the hybrid was a bit of a marketing thing for this vehicle - they only have it because she works for an air polution monitoring outfit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  19. Aug 28, 2007 #18

    ShawnD

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    I wonder why AC isn't driven by electric power. Wouldn't that make it a lot easier to control? Most cars don't even have belt driven radiator fans anymore because electric is easier to control, and is more efficient.

    What was the efficiency of the drilling process? Refining? Transportation? Power from the city grid will always be more efficient than gasoline or diesel.
     
  20. Aug 28, 2007 #19

    mgb_phys

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    It is driven by an electric motor but the compressor used so much power that the battery couldn't supply it.

    If you assume that the power stations were also oil fired so that part of the efficiency is the same. Hybrid power merely transfers the pollution somewhere else and adds a lot of inefficiency. Unless you assume the hybrid is recharged only from hydro or solar.
     
  21. Aug 29, 2007 #20

    chemisttree

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    I agree completely. Small car diesels aren't as available in the US. I believe that all of the major car companies are making them for the European market but they aren't available here. I was waiting for a small car diesel to come around (except the VW which has problems) but couldn't pass up the tax credit. Too bad, I was looking forward to making biodiesel.
     
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