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October 25, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

It’s easy to make a case for hybrids

I can’t possibly imagine a worse defense of gasoline hybrid cars than the lazy column written by Prof. Michael E. Kraft in Sunday’s Sun.

Kraft begins his article by dissing hybrids in general by saying, “These vehicles certainly have their limitations.” And then shares a complaint by “some drivers” that hybrids lack in acceleration. Even if poor acceleration were true, that is not a limitation; a limitation is not being able to drive the same long distances that current gas engines do, or not fill up at a regular gas station.

I wonder if the same anonymous drivers that Kraft quotes also complain that hybrids can’t fly, swim though water or perform complicated medical operations like normal gas engines do?

It’s also bothersome that Kraft never admits to test driving any hybrids. I have a Prius, and I’ve driven a Fusion Hybrid. The Prius has as much zip as any economy car I’ve driven and the Fusion drives as well as cars in its class.

The second criticism is that hybrids don’t make economic sense because they don’t make up for their increase in sticker price over what they’ve saved in gas.

If Kraft did a tiny bit of research, he might have seen the article that Consumer Reports magazine does every year about the best value listing for cars, and the Prius consistently lands at or near the top.

Consumer Reports does methodical research and factors in the cost of driving the car, maintenance and depreciation over a period of time, among other things. It also seems that hybrids in general are more reliable than their gasoline counterparts and thus in demand, so their depreciation and long-term maintenance costs are much less.

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  1. Consumer Reports, as well as other car industry experts, say the period to recoup the premium on hybrids and all electric vehicles [over their gas car counterparts] is usually longer than most Americans own and keep their cars.

    While the car industry has come a long way in refining and improving hybrids and all electrics, these alternative fuel powered vehicles are not yet competitive with gas cars in power, price and performance. The sales of these alternative fueled cars are way short of the Federal and car industry goals, even with the record car sales. Several of the model makers, both foreign and domestic, reduced and/or shuttered production of these alternative fuel cars and/or retooled the plants to produce and sell more popular selling gas model counterparts.

    Fisker went bankrupt and Tesla finally turned a profit after 10 years in Q1 of 2013. Why? Tesla sold its Federal energy credits earned [$60 million] to other car makers who needed them to meet Federal standards for lower clean air car emissions.

    Carmine D

  2. You haven't gotten the memo poster. U.S. is importing less foreign oil from the middle east than it ever has in its history. By 2020, if not sooner, the U.S. will be energy independent and an exporter of oil and gas. We have already become the Saudi Arabia of natural gas...and car companies are developing and producing cars that use natural gas fuel.

    Carmine D

  3. "Natural gas vehicle sales tiny, but picking up

    11 a.m. EST March 9, 2013

    "Ford says it sold a record 11,600 natural gas vehicles in 2012 model year
    Most are sold to governments or corporate fleets
    Only half of fueling stations are available to the public

    DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. said this week that it sold a record 11,600 natural gas vehicles in its 2012 model year, more than triple the number it sold in 2010.

    It's the latest sign that natural gas is making inroads as a transportation fuel, particularly for truck fleets, buses and taxis. The consumer market is tougher to crack, but sales are gaining there as well.

    Natural gas is cheap and plentiful in the U.S. after a spike in production that began in the middle of last decade. At the same time, the price of gasoline and diesel fuel has jumped more than 30%.

    That makes natural gas -- which also emits fewer greenhouse gases -- an increasingly attractive option for truck companies and municipalities.

    But while natural gas may be a good choice for snow plows and trash trucks, which go relatively short distances and can refuel at city-owned pumps, it's a tougher call for individuals.

    Natural gas cars cost more, and there are few public places to refuel them. Those issues need to be addressed if the vehicles are to significantly boost their share of the auto market, currently less than 1%.

    General Motors and Chrysler recently added natural gas pickup trucks to their lineups. Honda is seeing more interest in its natural gas Civic -- with record U.S. sales of nearly 2,000 last year -- and industry experts expect more offerings in the next year or two."

    Carmine D

  4. "When America Stops Importing Energy

    By IAN BREMMER and KENNETH A. HERSH

    Published: May 22, 2013

    "You've probably heard by now about the American energy revolution. Breakthroughs in drilling technology have opened access to enough new oil and gas reserves in the United States to dramatically reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

    The numbers tell the story: U.S. oil production has reversed its 30-plus year decline; U.S. imports from OPEC producers have fallen more than 20 percent in the past three years; U.S. natural gas reserves and production are up significantly and prices have dropped 75 percent in the past five years. The International Energy Agency forecasts that the United States could become the world's largest oil producer by 2020 and may be energy self-sufficient by 2035. That's a game changer. "

    Ladies and gentlemen: Start your natural gas engines!

    Carmine D

  5. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  6. LastThroes - "Why do conservatives hate conserving our natural resources? Why do they rant only about government waste but ignore the wasting away of our planet's ecosystem? Do they think we can just take from the earth without any environmental repercussions?"

    I truly believe conservatives are incapable of thinking forward and predicting the outcome of an event. I seriously doubt they can troubleshoot a problem because they are knee jerk reactionists. Proof positive is entering wars without an exit strategy and not expecting the economy to suffer while cutting taxes at the same time.

    Why are we not talking about bio-fuels? Brazil has been running on sugarcane biofuels for 30 years. Of course the oil industry would lobby against such a transformation because their main intent is to financially rape the public as done with other industries. I've noted many times we no longer run our economy as capiltalists, it's become a corporatocracy which is "too big to fail."

  7. I think the best argument for hybrids is that the electric motor shares the work with the engine. Stress on the engine is dramatically reduced. I bought my son I 2008 Toyota Camry hybrid. He is about to hit 80,000 miles. A new water pump, some wheel bearings,front brakes and the car runs as good as the day we bought it. It's not uncommon to see 350,000 miles on a Prius. If you want a car that runs quiet, has good fuel economy, and last forever hybrids are for you.

    Personally, if it doesn't have at least 500 hp I have no interest. That being said I'm in line at the Costco gas station a couple times a week and I am on a first name basis with my service writers.

    A while back my wife and I took a cruise out of Long Beach. I took my son's Camry. We were able to drive from Vegas to Long Beach and back on one tank of gas. Unbelievable!

  8. Who here believes the assertions made by Carmine?

  9. "The Tesla Model S won the 2013 car of the year
    award, from Motor Trend magazine."

    It also received a perfect score from Consumer Reports WITH ONE HUGE EXCEPTION noted by CR: No data to judge and assess the car's reliability.

    Carmine D

  10. "Carmine, you're too old for all of this new stuff."

    But not too old to drive a brand new red Camaro SS with black racing strips. ;-) It was $26,000. The Volt was $43,000. Tell me: Which of the 2 vehicles has the WOW factor driving down the highway?

    Carmine D

  11. Carmine's reflexes are too slow to handle a fast car anyway.

  12. More of the same pablum from the infantile of mind and heart.

    Carmine D