Thursday, December 21, 2006

Edmunds Predicts changes in 2007

With 2006 almost over and 2007 coming quickly (have you finished your shopping, yet?), is looking back at 2006 and forecasts big changes for the new year.

In 2006, subcompacts were up 63% compared to 2005. Also, those sales were happening quickly, with dealers selling them within 12 says of reaching the lots. Dealers average 64 days to 'turn' all vehicles.

Hybrid car sales increased 35% with the introduction of the Saturn Vue Greenline and Toyota Camry Hybrid. Compact cars increased sales 17.4%, while large trucks and SUVs dropped nearly 1 percent.

Press Release follows:

SANTA MONICA, (, the premier resource for automotive information, has compiled lists of the new cars and trucks most researched by the ten million monthly visitors in 2006. The most-researched cars are:
Rank Make Model

1 Honda Civic
2 Honda Accord
3 Toyota Camry
4 BMW 3 Series
5 Mazda Mazda3
6 Acura TL
7 Toyota Corolla
8 Infiniti G35
9 Volkswagen Jetta
10 Toyota Yaris

The most-researched minivans, SUVs and trucks are:
Rank Make Model

1 Toyota RAV4
2 Honda CR-V
3 Honda Pilot
4 Honda Odyssey
5 Toyota Tacoma
6 Toyota Sienna
7 Toyota Highlander
8 Chevrolet Tahoe
9 Toyota FJ Cruiser
10 Toyota 4Runner

Despite many recent new product introductions, most of the vehicles on the lists were also among the most researched in 2005. Newcomers to the 2006 list are the Chevrolet Tahoe and Toyota RAV4, which were both redesigned for 2007, and the Toyota FJ Cruiser and Toyota Yaris, two new vehicles introduced this year. No longer in the top ten are the Acura MDX, Audi A4, Ford Escape and Ford F-150; however, each fell just a few spots and is in the top fifteen most-researched vehicles of 2006.

2006 Automotive Trends Spotted by

Gas Prices Shift Consumer Demand – Gas prices soared, reaching a national average of $3.03 per gallon for regular self-serve in August 2006, according to the American Automobile Association. As a result, many consumers researched and purchased more fuel-efficient vehicles, including subcompact vehicles, while sales of large trucks and SUVs declined. Specifically:

* Subcompact market sales increased 63% compared to 2005, thanks in part to the introductions of the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris. On average, these three new model vehicles sold 12 days after arriving at dealerships. In contrast, the industry average “days to turn” was 64 in 2006.
* Hybrid vehicle market share increased nearly 35% compared to last year, largely due to the new hybrid tax credits and the introductions of the Saturn Vue Greenline and Toyota Camry Hybrid.
* Compact car market share increased from 15.9% in 2005 to 17.4% in 2006.
* Large trucks and SUVs each dropped nearly one percent in market share. The drop likely would have been much larger without the generous incentives automakers offered to buyers of these vehicles.

Domestics Lose Market Share – Chrysler, Ford and General Motors continue to feel the heat of import automakers, particularly Toyota. For example:

* Domestic manufacturers’ market share percentage dropped from 57.0% in 2005 to 54.6% in 2006. Import market share percentage increased from 43.0% in 2005 to 45.4%.
* All three domestic manufacturers experienced a loss of market share in 2006: Chrysler lost 5.1%; Ford declined 5.4%; and General Motors fell 6.0%.
* In 2006, Honda and Toyota achieved market share gains of 5.1% and 15.8%, respectively. Toyota sales now routinely outpace Chrysler, and for two months in 2006 Toyota sold more vehicles (including Lexus and Scion models) than the traditional number two U.S. automaker, Ford Motor Company.

Incentives Plateau – Incentive spending was relatively flat for domestic, Japanese and Korean automakers, while European automakers continued to be aggressive. Specifically:

* Average incentives for 2006 were $3,306 per domestic vehicle sold and $1,242 per Japanese vehicle sold. Average incentives for 2005 were $3,456 per domestic vehicle sold and $1,109 per Japanese vehicle sold
* In 2006, Chrysler led the domestic incentives war with average incentives of $3,750 per vehicle sold, while Ford spent $3,402 and GM spent $2,998. In 2005, GM led the pack with average incentives of $3,623 per vehicle sold, while Ford spent $3,148 and Chrysler spent $3,510.
* In 2006, Honda spent $708 per vehicle sold while Nissan spent an average of $2,386 and Toyota spent $1,046. In 2005, Honda spent $646 per vehicle sold, while Nissan spent an average of $1,769 and Toyota spent $961.
* In 2006, Korean automakers spent $1,818 per vehicle sold, up only 1.2% from $1,797 in 2005.
* In 2006, European brands spent nearly $2,730 per vehicle, up over 31% from $2,078 per vehicle in 2005. Included in that amount is incentive spending on subsidized leases, which rose over 35%.

2007 Automotive Trends Forecasted by expects light vehicle sales to be flat in 2007, with sales near expected 2006 levels of 16.5 million.

“Gas prices will be a leading factor in how consumers choose what vehicles they purchase in the coming year,” said Jesse Toprak, Executive Director of Industry Analysis for “Automakers who are prepared for that trend will enjoy great success in 2007.” also expects that:

* Many new products will attract consumers to domestic showrooms. GM has already made headway with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, while the Buick Enclave, Chevy Malibu, Chrysler Town & Country and Ford Edge should also help keep domestic dealerships busy. However, U.S. automakers will continue to lose market share to Japanese brands and Hyundai. The Toyota Tundra, voted’s Most Significant Vehicle of 2007, will take a chunk of large truck market share from the domestic automakers. This is a very profitable segment, so any loss in market share will have a disproportionately large impact financially.
* In terms of sales volume, Toyota will overtake Ford as the number two automaker in America by mid-2007.
* Sales of crossover vehicles will continue to improve as midsize and large SUV owners seek better fuel economy. More attention will be directed to this issue as the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy ratings are released for all 2008 model vehicles.
* Hybrid vehicles will continue to gain mainstream interest with the release of new models such as the Chevy Tahoe, Dodge Durango, GMC Yukon, Nissan Altima and Saturn Aura Greenline. The new EPA ratings will hurt hybrid vehicles’ fuel economy figures, but consumers will be drawn to the technology regardless. Price premiums on hybrids will decrease as more models enter the marketplace and help satisfy demand.
* U.S. acceptance of diesel will expand with the introduction of Mercedes-Benz’s new BlueTec diesel technology and the new diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee.
* Leasing will continue to boom, with luxury manufacturers enjoying the largest gain. Thanks to leasing’s recent resurgence, certified pre-owned sales will increase in 2007 as a significant number of off-lease vehicles will enter the marketplace.
* More consumers will understand and reap the benefits of working with auto dealerships’ Internet departments.

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New York to add plug in hybrids (PHEV) to the state fleet

New York will add plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) to the state fleet through conversion. Over 500 vehicles will be switched to plugging in to cut down on emissions and for the higher mileage.

New York is spending 10 million dollars according to Governor Pataki to cut down on foreign energy dependence.

PHEVs are similar to hybrids in they switch from electric to gas to both energy sources to power the car. The battery is recharged through regenerative braking and by the gas engine. But they can also plug in to recharge the battery, usually at night. That way, they can go farther and faster on just battery power, cutting down on fuel costs and emissions.

Source: Capital News 9 | 24 Hour Local News | HEADLINES | Pataki announces hybrid vehicles | Pataki announces hybrid vehicles

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

CNW survey says interest in hybrids is down

According to a recent CNW Marketing Research survey, consumers who are considering a hybrid for their next purchase is down to 12 percent, down from 30 percent a year ago. The premium buyers are willing to pay is also down from $2,500 to $1,152.

The decline in interest is being placed at the stability in gas prices. As the prices have receded, so have sales.

Toyota is expecting to sell nearly 300,000 hybrids next year, while J.D. Powers expects hybrid sales to hit 330,00. Global Insight is predicting 450,000 hybrid vehicle sales next year, with half of those sales going to Toyota.

Around 230,000 hybrid cars have been sold through November this year.

Source: Hybrid interest may need refueling, research firm says | Chicago Tribune

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Kentucky tax credits for hybrids?

Kentucky may be offering a new $500 state tax credit for those who purchase hybrid vehicles. A bill introduced by Charlie Hoffman, Democratic Rep from Georgetown and Jim Wayne, Democratic Rep from District 35 in Jefferson County would cover any model or manufacturing plant.

Kentucky is particularly interested in the success of hybrids with the Toyota Camry hybrid being produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky and Ford having a Louisville Assembly Plant (which does not produce hybrids).

Source: Georgetown News-Graphic: News

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hybrid Cars in 2007

Hybrid Car sales in 2007 are going to be determined by many factors. These include gas prices, federal and state tax credits, new models arriving, new clean diesel sales (as well as other alternative gas engine fuels), and finally, the continued reliability of the hybrid cars that are out there.

Gas prices and hybrid car sales tend to follow each other closely. Gas prices are expected to stay around what we've seen in the past year. Unless some other natural (or man-made) disaster occurs, what we see now is what we should expect to see with some fluctuation up and down (the EIA is projecting prices to go down slightly). This stabilization should keep a downward pressure on hybrid car sales.

Toyota has broken through the 60,000 units sold barrier for the federal tax credits. And so, since October, federal tax credits were halved on all Toyota hybrids sold. Toyota has publicly blamed the lack of an increase in hybrid sales on that reduction. But on the other half of that coin, Toyota is still selling three of the four most popular hybrid vehicles on the road.

Also, no other car maker is likely to break through that barrier in the next year. Despite a rash of new hybrid vehicles that will be coming out and will be eligible for the federal tax credit, Toyota seems to have taken a huge lead in hybrid image, with the Prius especially becoming synonymous with hybrid. So, I don't expect this to have a huge affect on hybrid car sales in the coming months, even after Toyotas credits get halved again in March.

Various states and cities are considering or are offering other incentives, from car pool lane preferences to tax credits to free parking. As more incentives are offered, more buyers will pull the trigger.

I do expect large increases in sales due to the new models coming out in 2007. Despite being disparaged as not a full hybrid, the Vue hybrid sold 700 units in October. As each new hybrid models get released, I expect corresponding big jumps in hybrid car sales. Especially when the Nissan Hybrid Altima comes out, even in its limited sales areas. Other new hybrids expected to hit the road in 2007 include the Saturn Aura, the Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu, Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Chevy Silverado.

Other issues hybrid car sales will face is competition from other alternatives to the traditional internal combustion engine (ICE). These include new clean diesel engines and bio-fuels. Hybrids will fight back with better gas mileage (the next generation Prius will possible get 90+ mpg, for instance) and by plugging in. Also, you may see more mergers between the alternatives, as diesels become hybrids.

One other issue that may affect hybrid cars in 2007 is their continued reliability and the continued satisfaction hybrid car owners have. Despite being accused of smugness in 2006 (ie. South Park), hybrid car owners have shown very high satisfaction (consumer reports survey) with their choices and rightly so based on the reliability of hybrids so far. It will be hard to maintain such high ratings as new hybrid cars (from automakers with lower reliability ratings) enter the field, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

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Lexus Hybrids are popular in Europe

A surprising statement given all I hear from other 'green' sites is how diesel is so popular in Europe, putting hybrids to shame. And certainly in the US, Lexus hybrid sales are not exactly stellar.

But, Toyota stated that hybrid models proved "particularly popular with customers" in Europe. Toyota expects 6,100 sales in Germany and 60,000 in Europe next year for Lexus vehicles.

Source: The Raw Story | Record year for Lexus sales in Europe

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Japan has increased fuel economy requirements

Although, to be fair, requirements is a stronger word than what I should use. Although there are fines to automakers who fail to meet these rules, the fines themselves are quite small. It's the bad publicity for failing to meet the guidelines that Toyota, Honda, et al are more worried about.

Green Car Congress has the story from the Nikkei on the new requirements on average fuel economy for the carmakers in Japan. By 2015, passenger cars need to have an average fuel economy of 39.5 mpg (see the table below).

Proposed Average Fuel Economy
Vehicle class 2004 value 2015 est. value % change
Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Passenger cars 13.6 km/liter
7.4 l/100km
32.0 mpg US
16.8 km/liter
6.0 l/100km
39.5 mpg US
Small buses 8.3 km/liter
12.0 l/100km
19.5 mpg US
8.9 km/liter
11.2 l/100km
21.0 mpg US
Light cargo trucks 13.5 km/liter
7.4 l/100km
31.8 mpg US
15.2 km/liter
6.6 l/100km
35.8 mpg US

Compare that to the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. In 2006, the fleet requirement for passenger cars was 27.5 mpg and 20.7 mpg for light trucks. (If you're interested in seeing who's paid fines for not meeting these requirements, as well as how much, the NHTSA has a table of fines.

CAFE standards have been changed to look at a vehicles "footprint" — the product of its wheelbase and track. Some critics point out that this may have the unintended consequence of pushing manufacturers to make ever-larger vehicles to avoid strict economy standards.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bad Journalism?

I just read an article over at msnbc that just ticked me off by how wrong it was in its fact reporting that I ended up writing a response on their discussion board. I've copied it here to give you a chance to go over my response.

There were so many facts wrong in this article (or just plain misleading) that I felt I had to write in.
But sales of hybrid vehicles have fallen sharply since August as the price of gas has declined and Toyota has run up against a federal limit for tax credits that have helped fuel sales of the vehicles. From September to October, sales of Toyota hybrids, including the popular Prius model, tumbled 22.4 percent — a downturn that can be attributed in large part to a quirk in federal law, according to Alex Rosten,’s manger of pricing and market analysis.
All car sales are down from August. You need to compare to last year same month the way car reports are done. If you do so, you will see that hybrid car sales are up. See GreenCarCongress or my hybrid review site for details.

The Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid, for example, is one of several “value” hybrids to be introduced by General Motors over the next few years. It goes on sale next year and will cost just $1,000 more than the regular Saturn Vue.
The Vue Green Line is already on sale.

"Some think a hybrid will get the stated EPA mileage returns of 50 or 60 miles per gallon all the time," Rosten said. "But if you are using the hybrid on the highway you are using the gas engine, and cars like the Prius are much better-suited for around town driving in gridlock — they are not meant to be long-distance driving cars."
Yes, hybrid cars get better mileage in the city vs highway, which is the reverse of what people are used to, but the Prius is still rated at 51 mpg on the highway. How is this not meant for long distance driving?

She concludes that a driver who buys a Honda Accord hybrid, which can cost some $3,000 more than a regular model, will need 10 to 12 years to break even in fuel savings, assuming the price of gas remains within the $2.50 to $3 range.
You picked the Accord Hybrid for comparison? The Accord hybrid was built to improve performance, not fuel economy. When Edmunds (search for their press release or go here) asked the same question, they found it took 2.9 years driving the Ford Escape hybrid 15,000 miles a year to break even (I can cherry pick, too).

Please do some more research before you write another article, or at least try to present a more balanced report.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mazda will introduce the 2008 Tribute Hybrid

The 2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid will be introduced at the Detroit Auto Show. It will be Mazdas first hybrid to hit the market. It should be very similar to the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid.

Source: Mazda Ryuga concept and Mazda Tribute Hybrid at Detroit | Auto Shows Blog at Motor Trend
The Tribute, like its Ford Escape sibling, is heavily revised for 2008 and the hybrid version on the Mazda show stand will be the automaker’s first advanced-technology vehicle for sale to the public when it hits dealership showrooms next year.

The Tribute Hybrid features a combined power output of its gasoline engine and electric motor of 155 horsepower and meets strict Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEVII) and Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) standards in California – the strictest emission regulations in the country.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dept of Energy finds 84% of the country could switch to plug-in hybrids

The Department of Energy released a press statement today on how 84% of the country could switch to plug-in hybrids without overwhelming the energy system. "Off-peak" energy consumption (i.e. when you plug the car in at night), could help fuel the next generation of hybrid cars.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) plug-in at night (or when stopped, but I assume you would most likely have a plug at home, not at work or when you are out in general) to recharge the battery. Then the car battery would power the vehicle for xx miles, xx depending on how large the battery is, what type it is, and your particular driving style. Then, the car would switch to being powered by the gas engine and/or electric engine, just as a hybrid (non-plug-in) does.

What this does is switch a majority of the power consumption to the energy grid, which may (or may not) be a good thing. Since environmentalists worry about coal burning power plants, for instance, this may not be a wonderful solution. But, drivers would get better mpg, plus get the lower emissions a hybrid gets. And unlike an electric car, you wouldn't be so limited. For instance, if you forgot to plug in the car (or a plug was not available) you would just have to put in more gas, since the gas engine would be used more.

Press Release follows:

RICHLAND, Wash. – If all the cars and light trucks in the nation switched from oil to electrons, idle capacity in the existing electric power system could generate most of the electricity consumed by plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. A new study for the Department of Energy finds that "off-peak" electricity production and transmission capacity could fuel 84 percent of the country's 220 million vehicles if they were plug-in hybrid electrics.

Researchers at DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory also evaluated the impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, on foreign oil imports, the environment, electric utilities and the consumer.

"This is the first review of what the impacts would be of very high market penetrations of PHEVs, said Eric Lightner, of DOE's Office of Electric Delivery and Energy Reliability. "It's important to have this baseline knowledge as consumers are looking for more efficient vehicles, automakers are evaluating the market for PHEVs and battery manufacturers are working to improve battery life and performance."

Current batteries for these cars can easily store the energy for driving the national average commute - about 33 miles round trip a day, so the study presumes that drivers would charge up overnight when demand for electricity is much lower.

Researchers found, in the Midwest and East, there is sufficient off-peak generation, transmission and distribution capacity to provide for all of today's vehicles if they ran on batteries. However, in the West, and specifically the Pacific Northwest, there is limited extra electricity because of the large amount of hydroelectric generation that is already heavily utilized. Since more rain and snow can't be ordered, it's difficult to increase electricity production from the hydroelectric plants.

"We were very conservative in looking at the idle capacity of power generation assets," said PNNL scientist Michael Kintner-Meyer. "The estimates didn't include hydro, renewables or nuclear plants. It also didn't include plants designed to meet peak demand because they don't operate continuously. We still found that across the country 84 percent of the additional electricity demand created by PHEVs could be met by idle generation capacity."

"Since gasoline consumption accounts for 73 percent of imported oil, it is intriguing to think of the trade and national security benefits if our vehicles switched from oil to electrons," added PNNL energy researcher Rob Pratt. "Plus, since the utilities would be selling more electricity without having to build more plants or power lines, electricity prices could go down for everyone."

Lightner noted that "the study suggests the idle capacity of the electric power grid is an underutilized national asset that could be tapped to vastly reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

The study also looked at the impact on the environment of an all-out move to PHEVs. The added electricity would come from a combination of coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. Even with today's power plants emitting greenhouse gases, the overall levels would be reduced because the entire process of moving a car one mile is more efficient using electricity than producing gasoline and burning it in a car's engine.

Total sulfur dioxide emissions would increase in the near term due to sulfur content in coal. However, urban air quality would actually improve since the pollutants are emitted from power plants that are generally located outside cities. In the long run, according to the report, the steady demand for electricity is likely to result in investments in much cleaner power plants, even if coal remains the dominant fuel for our electricity production.

"With cars charging overnight, the utilities would get a new market for their product. PHEVs would increase residential consumption of electricity by about 30 - 40 percent. The increased generation could lead to replacing aging coal-fired plants sooner with newer, more environmentally friendly versions," said Kintner-Meyer.

"The potential for lowering greenhouse gases further is quite substantial because it is far less expensive to capture emissions at the smokestack than the tailpipe. Vehicles are one of the most intractable problems facing policymakers seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said Pratt.

Finally, the study looked at the economic impact on consumers. Since, PHEVs are expected to cost about $6,000 to $10,000 more than existing vehicles - mostly due to the cost of batteries -- researchers evaluated how long it might take owners to break even on fuel costs. Depending on the price of gas and the cost of electricity, estimates range from five to eight years - about the current lifespan of a battery. Pratt notes that utilities could offer a lower price per kilowatt hour on off-peak power, making PHEVs even more attractive to consumers.

Adding "smart grid" communications technology to ensure the vehicles only charge during off-peak periods and to provide immediate, remote disconnect of chargers in event of problems in the power grid would make them attractive to utilities.

PNNL is a DOE Office of Science laboratory that solves complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences by advancing the understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and computation. PNNL employs 4,200 staff, has a $725 million annual budget, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab's inception in 1965.

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New mileage (mpg) ratings

The EPA is coming out with its new rating system for calculating mpg in new cars. Complaints were made about the old rating system given its age and unrealistic numbers (the most quoted complaint being testing was done without air conditioning or cold weather driving).

And so, the EPA has revised its tests to deliver more 'real world' figures. And so, consumers should expect a severe drop in mpg ratings on the window stickers. Hybrid cars are expected to get hit harder, since they have farther to drop.

The new figures are to be found on 2008 models, which may be found on dealers lots as soon as next month. Automakers expect quite a sticker shock from the new system, and have set up a new website to detail more information,

The EPA is also requiring vehicles as large as 10,000 pounds, up from 8,5000 lbs, to have stickers by 2011 for the first time.

Source: Automotive News (reg require)

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Toyota plans on a hybrid diesel

Toyota bought an 5.9 percent stake in Isuzu with plans on expanding their relationship. Toyota has been the leader in hybrid technology, while Isuzu has made itself known for diesels. Now, Toyota wants to bring the two together.

According to a story out of Edmunds: Inside Line: the partners are looking to emphasize each of their strengths. Isuzu will concentrate on diesel engine production and emissions-control technologies, while Toyota wil concentrate on ""environmental technologies, including basic engine and other technologies and other technologies related to alternative fuels."

In other words, they are looking to put hybrids into diesels sometime in the future.

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Nissan Hybrid Plans

Despite Nissan being so cautious in its approach to hybrids, they still want to produce them in the future. In January, they will start selling the Nissan Altima hybrid (at a loss, no less) in limited terms. Only eight states will be offering the only hybrid offering from Nissan. And that is being built off of Toyota technology.

But, by 2010, Nissan is promising a hybrid based off their own technology, followed by a plug-in hybrid (no deadline on when that will come out). The Nissan hybrid technology will be based on lithium-ion batteries powering their electric powertrains.

According to their press release: "At Nissan we believe that in order to develop vehicles that are truly environmentally friendly, we need to make significant advances in internal combustion technology while working on electrical power sources in parallel," said Mitsuhiko Yamashita, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Nissan Motor Company.

In the same paragraph, they are also promising the next generation fuel cell vehicle with its own in-house developed stack and a battery-powered electric vehicle. In other words, they have big plans over there at Nissan. Just don't expect them to be first with anything.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cost per Mileage

Out of curiosity, I decided to see who was paying the least (or most) in initial cost for the sake of fuel economy. Although the results aren't surprising, it becomes easy to see why some cars are so popular with hybrid car buyers.

To start with, I needed the likely cost to buy each hybrid car, followed by it's mileage. I got the purchase price and mileage (city/highway mpg) at Then I calculated the mixed fuel economy (60% highway, 40% city). Then I divided the purchase price by the mixed mileage to get a buyers initial cost per mileage.

Hybrid Vehicle* Car/SUV City Hwy Mixed Purchase Price Cost per Mileage
Honda Insight Car 57 56 56.4 $ 21,530.00 $ 381.74
Toyota Prius Car 60 51 54.6 $ 23,070.00 $ 422.53
Honda Civic Car 49 51 50.2 $ 24,590.00 $ 489.84
Toyota Camry Car 40 38 38.8 $ 26,200.00 $ 675.26
Saturn VUE SUV 27 32 30 $ 23,710.00 $ 790.33
Ford Escape SUV 36 31 33 $ 27,260.00 $ 826.06
Mercury Mariner SUV 33 29 30.6 $ 27,950.00 $ 913.40
Honda Accord Car 28 35 32.2 $ 33,090.00 $ 1,027.64
Toyota Highlander SUV 32 27 29 $ 36,550.00 $ 1,260.34
Lexus RX 400h SUV 33 28 30 $ 42,580.00 $ 1,419.33
Lexus GS 450h Car 25 28 26.8 $ 54,900.00 $ 2,048.51
* All hybrid vehicles are 2007 except for the Insight (which is out of production).

Not surprisingly, better mileage gives you better return. But it also becomes obvious why the Accord has suffered so in sales. When you start looking at how much you're paying for the hybrid, but without the benefit of the fuel economy.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

2008 Ford Fusion Hybrid

leftlanenews has a spy shot of the Ford Fusion Hybrid engine. Due in 2008, the Fusion Hybrid should be quite a site, built off the same (I believe) engine as the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid engine.

Spied: Ford Fusion Hybrid | Leftlane News - Car News For Enthusiasts

Ford has begun testing prototypes for its Fusion Hybrid, as evidenced by this prototype caught with its hood up. Spies noticed that the parking lot of a facility known to be the primary development site for Ford's Escape Hybrid was suddenly awash in Fusion test cars.

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Lexus Hybrids in Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360

It seems Lexus is looking to widen their marketing to younger drivers. So, they've agreed to put the IS350, LS 460, GS450h, SC430 roadster, and the LS600h L (available in 2008) into Atari's Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360.

Gamers will be able to test drive any of the models after 'purchasing' them from a virtual dealership. The showroom will look like a real Lexus showroom. Players will also be allowed to personalize their new ride from a virtual catalogue.

Source: Lexus Drives Into Gaming World - The Car Connection

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Volvo invests in next generation battery development

According to a news story from, Volvo has invested £150,000 in TranSiC AB. Transic AB is developing a conductor based on silicon carbide.

Silicon carbide is used to conduct current in electric motors. Silicon Carbide has a higher resistance to heat, and can be made smaller and more compact. If the promise is fulfilled, hybrid cars can be made lighter and cheaper.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Hybrid Sales, November 2006

Hybrid car sales rose once again to 18,283 units sold in the month of November, an increase of 13.5% over last year. Increases were mainly due to the introduction of the Toyota Camry Hybrid in April. Toyota and Ford hybrid sales were both up by 19.3% and 28.0%, respectively. Honda continues to suffer in comparison to last year, however, with Accord hybrid sales way down.

Honda continues to suffer from the strong start of the Accord Hybrid. The Honda Accord Hybrid was built with performance, not fuel economy, in mind. With only 311 units sold, sales were down 62.8%. Honda Civic Hybrid sales increased 6% to 2,208 units sold. While the out of production Insight sold 2 units.

Toyota had mixed numbers. While the Prius was up 1.5% to 8,008 units sold, the Highland Hybrid SUV was down 29.2% to 1,667 units sold. The Lexus RX 400h was also down 22.9% to 1,327 units sold. But the Toyota Camry Hybrid is still the second most popular hybrid car sold today, with 3,100 units sold (introduced in April, 2006). 176 units of the Lexus GS 450h (introduced in April, 2006) were sold.

Ford increased sales of its Ford Escape Hybrid and its luxury sister, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid by 28.0% to 1,484 units. (Note: I'm not entirely sure about that number. I'm thinking there's an issue with the number from my source. I'll check it and return if it needs fixing.)

Once again, Toyota sales would have dropped if not for the introduction of the Camry. The likely source of their problems is the phase out of the federal tax credit on hybrids built by Toyota. Toyota is currently petitioning Congress to extend the tax credits on hybrids in an effort to boost their sales (they are the only car company affected by the phase out, or for that matter, the only car company likely to be affected at all!).

At the same time, Toyota is still dominating the hybrid marketplace. They sold 78.1% of the hybrids in November (excluding the Vue Greenline, more about that below), with 43.8% of hybrid car sales coming from the Prius, by itself. Honda sold 13.8%, while Ford sold the remaining 8.1%.

The top selling hybrid cars in November were the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Honda Civic Hybrid.

Hybrid SUV sales were down 24.4%, while hybrid car sales were up 12.1%.

GM did not break out the Saturn Vue hybrids sale. I'm not sure how I'm going to go about reporting their sales or including their numbers. Again, you'll have to stay tuned. When I hear about it you will. I did see, according to autobytel, about 700 Vue Hybrids were sold in October.

October Hybrid Sales, 2006.

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