Maybe more to the point, I'm getting 40+ MPG in my 2013 Nissan Versa, which cost me under $12,000. Why would I pay more than twice that much just to get a less than 20% improvement in fuel efficiency?
Driving 12,000 miles per year with gas at $3.50, 50 mpg vs. 40 mpg translates to a $210 annual savings. At that rate, the payback period for the hybrid would be around 80 years... and that's assuming nothing goes wrong with the battery. That sounds like an incredibly bad investment to me.
Actually, even a Prius C at $20,000 is a bad deal compared to the Versa, unless gas hits about $13.50 a gallon. Then you at least have a chance of getting your money back sometime during the lifetime of the car. If you want to get your money back in the first five years, gas needs to be over $25 a gallon, or you need to drive over 90,000 miles a year.
Now, a vehicle that got the same gas mileage as your Chevy Volt and cost under $20,000, that would be a reasonable deal.
Until then, there are enough traditional powertrain vehicles that get decent gas mileage that alternative powertrains are still mainly a status symbol.
What is surprising for me is that engineering has gotten efficiency to the stage that city consumption is considerably better (less) than country - been out of the auto industry for a long time but it always used to be the other way round.
Could it be that the Japanese car companies are developing their hybrid chassis to maximize the MPG and keeping an eye out for the next transformational battery technology? When the battery is smaller and more energy dense, the Toyotas and Hondas can replace the ICE for an equivalent battery (by weight). Then they have invested their time and resources in developing controls and optimized, light weight chassis.
Who knows, 5 - 10 years from now we could see the "hot rodding" of these hybrids as in ripping out the ICE, changing the control software, and putting in that super battery! Then take out the old Honda hybrid hot rod and smoke (no pun intended) the Teslas of the same vintage!!!
Many of us remember the Ford C-MAX that came out with impressive 47/47/47 MPG only to have the numbers 'revised' after many users could not achieve these numbers. Also, Hyundai had a problem with over-stated MPG that had to be revised. So let's get some of the cars in owner hands and see what happens but we did some 'back-of-the-envelope' calculations.
The Toyota transmission splits 28% of the power over the electrical path and 72% over the very efficient, mechanical path at all speeds. In contrast, the Honda system sends 100% of the power through the electrical path at lower speeds, below 40 mph.
We typically use 92% efficiency for the engine-to-generator and another 92% efficiency for the generator-to-motor path. The serial path efficiency being the product, ~85%. In contrast, the Toyota system sends only 28% through the relative lossy, electrical path. The rest goes through the mechanical path, typically 98% efficient (one gear set.)
We hope the Honda design works well, at least as well as the Toyota Camry hybrid, another sedan hybrid. But this is why "owner verification" is so important as 'your mileage may vary.'
Charles, you know better than just about anyone that the liquid coolant systems employed by Tesla and GM keep the batteries within an optimum range and won't allow for overheating; thus extending the life of the battery and preventing the potential for fire.
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