Comments: Basic Mileage Math

I don't understand the problem. I just purchased a current technology, in fact long standing technology, vehicle that routinely achieves in excess of 38 mpg in town and over 45 mpg hi way. Cost, well equipped, in the $27,000 range. And does 0-60 in the 8-9 sec. range.

I have no problems finding fuel, it's clean, has a drive train expectation of over 200,000 miles, a 10 year plus lifetime, and the only engine maintenance needed is oil and filter changes (first 3 years included in base price). And the technology moves more tonnage than any other current technology.

It's a diesel. Of course it's not made in America, not because we couldn't but because we don't want to rock the political "green" boat. Or does it? Let's see. High ethanol fuels have driven the cost of corn sky-high, contributes to engine failure and don't seem to provide any realistic savings. You've already shown that hybrids and electrics are not economical. Diesel is the cheapest petroleum fraction product, could be reasonably produced from biological waste - sell the corn for food and use the stalks to produce diesel fuel, recycle used cooking oils, etc.

Is it an ideal solution? Perhaps not, but we have the existing infrastructure to get to market. We have the capability to manufacture the engine. My vehicle is not "smelly", it's not "noisy", and it's not subject to dieing by the side of the road because the batteries are "dead".

And the car - it's a VW Gof TDI. The same drive train is available as a Jetta, or in the Audi marque. I first drove one of these 7-8 years ago in Europe where diesel fuel and bio-desiel is readily available - and is the least expensive fuel avaialble.

Posted by Del Ahlstedt at August 3, 2011 05:46 AM

Don't forget that hybrids also have battery packs that might cost $5K - $10K to replace, and no one knows how long they will last in real life. Some makers have warranties, prorated, of course.

A hybrid has only two advantages: first, the IC engine can run at it's most efficient speed to charge the battery, IF the car is designed to always run on electric power. If the engine drives the car directly at any time, the advantage is lost then. Second, regenerative braking - which is why hybrid city mileage is so good. Driving one of these on a long trip on flat land pretty much erases the advantage.

Diesels make a whole lot more sense - you can literally grow your own fuel.

What I don't get is why no one so far has offered a Diesel hybrid. With a reliable battery, that might be something I would be interested in

Posted by Chuck Kuecker at August 3, 2011 05:59 AM

Unfortunate that we can't compare maintenance costs and reliability. A basic rule in engineerings is that an overall systems reliability is the multiplication of the reliability of every part in the system. Hybrids are more complex, more stuff to break. I suspect that the maintenance costs will be higher for the hybrid with lower reliability.

Posted by styrgwillidar at August 3, 2011 09:33 AM

I "Bidened" heavily from your post in a comment to Katie Pavlich posting on the same topic at TH. Hope you don't mind, but people need to do this kind of basic math before making green decisions that will turn their wallets brown.

Posted by Col Bat Guano at August 3, 2011 04:42 PM

Don't forget to add in Insurance and Taxes too. Maintenance will cut into that too, no doubt that Hybrids are more expensive to work on than conventional cars, plus they will have more expensive repair parts.

Posted by Georg Felis at August 3, 2011 05:19 PM

For me at least, due to the tax benefits we have here on hybrids, the choice was (on cost only) obvious.
A Civic hybrid costs me (as a lease car, corporate owned, I here pay a portion of the purchase price in income tax, which is a smaller portion than for non-hybrid cars) less than 100 Euro a month to drive. A similar priced diesel powered car (company won't let me select a regular gasoline powered car because of the price difference in fuel) would set me back abour 400 Euro a month.
For the company, the equation is of course reversed. That hybrid gets 45mpg on gasoline costing 1.65 Euro per liter. The diesel would get 55mpg on fuel costing 1.35 Euro per liter. It's not all bad though, the road taxes on the hybrid are 0, rather than several hundred Euro per quarter on the diesel, maybe (in part) compensating.

Don't you love unintended consequences? By subsidising hybrids they've pushed tens of thousands of corporate drivers (and that's the people driving the longest distances) into cars that use more fuel than the cars they used prior.

Posted by JTW at August 4, 2011 04:38 AM

I did the math here for the Toyota Highlander back in March. Similar results. Math is so useful. A pitty so many people avoid it after high school.

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