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high gas prices
chemharley   7/18/2012 10:13:53 AM
I have a few comments/questions.

1. What is the real impact of adding ethanol to the gasoline we use now? Increasing ethanol content does decrease gas mileage.

2. How will the government tax the electricity that is used to charge the batteries in the electric cars? Electric cars should have to pay their share of street, highway bridge and tunnel wear and tear.

Sounds like we are approaching the law of unintended consequences.


User Rank
no one has mentioned motorcycles?
Watashi   7/18/2012 10:09:01 AM
My wife and I have started to evaluate alternatives, although they are established technologies: We have considered buying motorcycles to supplement our cars for daily commuting.  I have never been much for on-road motorcycles, but the economics work (low cost, 50+ mpg).

Diesel is also a good alternative.  You get power and efficiency boosts.  We are considering buying a dually to replace our ½ ton pickup.  Better power which means better towing, and better mileage.  The fuel costs more, but that is mainly artificial and varies state by state.

The drawbacks of EVs and Hybrids will still be present regardless of the fuel price manipulation.  Plug-ins will be affected as the price of electricity "necessarily skyrocket(s)"-B. Obama. Hybrids are only a marginal solution and primarily marketing hype until we see some technological breakthrough.

The unintended consequences are going to be much more widespread than simple transportation.  Food prices are already climbing.  Major changes to the living standards and population distributions are likely to result.  Suburban dwellers will start to look at moving closer to work or pushing to work remotely. We will adapt, as a society; or fracture and make the necessary corrections to the source of the problem.

User Rank
Much depends upon the length of commute.
Dave   7/18/2012 10:08:29 AM
We already have a hybrid but I am also open to highly-efficient gasolene cars as well. Most, if not all new and upcoming vehicles are lighter via the use of more high-strength steel, plastics, composites, and aluminum. That's a refreshing change compared to the steady increase in vehicle size and weight that we've seen throughout the years.

Diesel fuel is still too expensive, at least on the west coast. Many hybrids run on regular gas, whereas diesel cars must use fuel that is often higher in cost than premium.


Arden Dulou
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Re: Some Numbers
Arden Dulou   7/18/2012 10:07:07 AM
This website is a must when researching when buying based on fuel economy. http://www.efficient-mileage.com/mpg-illusion.html

 It really points out in an easy to understand method the saving behind buying based on MPG $. It shows that as long as you have a 20/30 car there isn't much savings at all to go much higher as savings follows a curve not a linear path. While the tech might be cool, it won't save you much money. "Saving the world" is different than saving money.

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Re: It all depends...
ScotCan   7/18/2012 10:00:33 AM
When I retired, I stopped using my van, and gave it away to a youngster who needed it. I bought an all electric scooter since most of the time I'd be commuting locally. It costs me 11 cents of hydro every two days and is a lot of fun to ride around in. Even in Canadian winters it's usable once the roads are plowed and the savings in the first year were close to $4000 taking into account that there was no insurance, no licence fees of any kind in comparison to the van use...admittedly the van had heavy duty use all over the Province. Nevertheless at the power scale (500 watts) the all electric scooter is an example of just what can be accomplished in small mileage commuting. It doesn't burn rubber at the lights but for 10 milliseconds you can outaccelerate anything on the road!

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New technology only part of the answer
BillyMoore   7/18/2012 9:59:43 AM
I would use my bicycle for every trip I could.  I already have a small, inexpensive economy car for commuting to work.  If gas reached $10/gal, that car would likely become the family car, and my commuter would become a bicycle or small motorcycle.

Any newfangled technology still has to obey the law of physics, which dictates that it requires a certain amount of energy to propel 4000lbs to 60mph.  Technology can't change that.  There are still a few technological improvements available for mileage improvements, but if the American consumer insists on using these improvements to propel 4000-5000lbs vehicles (mostly empty) to conduct 1 mile trips, we'll have wasted most of those improvements.  I had an 83 Honda CRX that got >50mpg hwy and 35 city.  How, in '83, could it do that?  It weighed 1800lbs.

A couple of years ago, I was in the market for a new car, and I made a spreadsheet (just like an engineer) of all the cars I was interested in, and several I wasn't, just for comparison.  I computed the estimated costs of ownership (time based) and operation (mileage based) for each car.  The cheapest vehicles to own & operate were not hybrids.  At $5/gal, Toyota's own Corolla was still cheaper than a Prius.  Hybrids didn't become the cheapest until the cost of fuel went up to something like $10/gal.

User Rank
Re: Some Numbers
EmbeddedDesigner81   7/18/2012 9:48:21 AM
Good numbers!  So the best rate, at 15000 miles/year saves me $1125 a year.  I'm atypical, I keep a car about 10 years (and hope the batteries aren't dead by then), that's $11,250.   MSRP on the Leaf : 35,200.  MSRP on a decked out Titanium 4-door Ford Focus, 23,495.   So I wouldn't make my money back unless I get government subsidies.   No matter how much DN tries to push them, electric vehicles don't make economic sense in 2012.

User Rank
There are ways to save
Battar   7/18/2012 9:43:05 AM
1. Diesel engine

2. Smaller engine (100HP max)

3. Manual transmission or auto dual clutch a la Volkswagen DSG

This technology is already common in Europe where fuel is more expensive. No reason to drive to the shops in a V6 2.5 ton SUV .

You could also re-define pollution laws. A higher head temperature , leaner burn engine will get you better mpg, at the expense of increased NOX in the exhaust.

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Hybrid Cars
averagejoe72677   7/18/2012 9:38:01 AM
I am sorry, but I do not have any enthusiasm whatsoever for hybrid cars. I tend to keep my cars long term(I have one I bought new 23 years ago) and from my viewpoint hybrids are expensive disposable vehicles. I also do a lot of my own work on my cars and hybrids are off limits for the average backyard mechanic. In addition hybrids are a very poor investment as the cost to replace the battery pack will exceed the value of the car down the road. Many owners of these novelty cars will end up scrapping them when it is time for new batteries. If you trade vehicles every few years and are the type that has to have the latest gadget and have money to burn, by all means knock yourself out and go buy one. For those that think long term, this may not be for you.  

User Rank
Some Numbers
mr88cet   7/18/2012 9:22:32 AM
My answer:  Already have a Prius, and I would buy a Leaf, keeping the Prius for when I need to make long trips.

I recently read some numbers in "a leading consumer magazine" (take a guess!).  At current US national-average pricing for gasoline and home electicity, here are some very-approximate numbers, based upon typical city vs. highway driving.
  • Typical small pure-gasoline car = 11 cents/mile.
  • Prius = 6.8 cents/mile.
  • Volt = 5 cents/mile on electric.  I don't remember their estimate on gasoline, but I think it was around 12 cents/mile.
  • Leaf = 3.5 cents/mile, ~75 mile range.

To be more precise, that was based upon national-average prices at the time the article was published, at which time gasoline was a tad higher than now, but not much.

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