David Baakman

Hybrid drivers

Marc (for some reason you can only address another blogger by his first name, even if that other blogger did almost invent the Internet…) points to an article that describes why hybrid cars aren’t the future.

The summary of that story is: people won’t pay 5000 dollars extra to save the environment.

Although I do agree with that, I don’t think that that is a valid reason:

– 5000 dollars more than what? In The Netherlands the taxes on a hybrid car are 6000 euro less than a regular car (so, a hybrid car is in fact cheaper than a non-hybrid car), but even when you ignore that ridiculous law, the difference is less than 5000. Let alone when you compare the TOC.

– A hybrid car has more advantages than just the environment. The electric motor has a large amount of torque that is available all the time. So a hybrid car can be made to be very quiet when you drive with a constant speed (my car uses the lowest rpm possible when you drive constantly, at 70 km/h the engine revs at 1500 rpm, at 120 km/h at 2200 rpm, when you use a more powerful electric engine even 120 km/h can be achieved with only the electric motor), and with the possibility to accelerate at any moment. An ideal combination to create a quiet comfortable, but fast car.

Lexus understands that, and with their GS450h and LS600h they do exact that thing. There is no reason to choose a GS430 over an GS 450h or a LS460 over an L600h. The only thing that is a shame that both cars are still a bit above my budget… :)

Disclaimer: The next part is a bit of a generalization, but that is fun as well sometimes :)

It is a shame that most people don’t realize the above fact, and that a hybrid car still has a tree-hugging image (something I still personally fight against :)). And because of that image a large portion of the buyers are in fact tree-hugging people, that will drive 70 km/h on a highway (instead of 120 km/h), and use 24 seconds to accelerate from that 70 km/h to 80 km/h to overtake that Prius in front of them that drives 69 km/h. But I have hope: last week I was overtaken while driving 122 km/h by a Prius driving about 140 km/h.

But maybe the manufacturers shouldn’t use these optimistic fuel-usage figures. According to the theory I should use about 1:23 (kilometers to the liter), but in practice I have an overall usage of about 1:16. Personally I don’t really care about the usage. The way to decrease the usage is to drive less fast, it does make a difference when you drive 80 km/h instead of 120 km/h or 60 km/h instead of 80 km/h. If you are going to drive these kinds of speeds on a highway cq. national way, well then you will probably get the theoretical usage. And apparently, this is something that a lot of Prius drivers actually do. Probably without realizing that when driving those speeds with a regular car you’ll probably also drive a lot more economically. With the airco switched off obviously ;).

Maybe the manufacturers should point out the other advantages of a hybrid car instead of pointing to the fuel economy.