2007/05/15

EPA Mileage Stats: Everybody Plays, Almost Everybody Loses

You knew it was coming, if for no other reason than the fact that numerous hybrid owners complained that they weren't getting the mileage that the EPA stickers said they should be getting. Hybrid detractors--including some readers of this blog--will claim that this is the proof that hybrids are a bad deal, not worth the money you spend on them.

But look more closely. Hybrids weren't the only vehicles to come up on the losing end of the EPA's new MPG calculation methods. Conventional autos come up short as well. So...where the Toyota Camry Hybrid lost 5 MPG on average (a bit under 13%), its pure gasoline cousin the Camry lost a bit over 11%. And, in the case of the Ford Escape, the EPA adjustment was less detrimental to the hybrid version.

So...if you're thinking about using this as an excuse to eschew hybrids. Think again! Nobody won with this revision...except consumers! Better information about how good, or in this case how bad our cars perform, is a win for everybody but Big Auto. So suck it up and buy that hybrid anyway. You'll still get 25% better mileage than a gasoline powered version of the same car (or much more--the Civic Hybrid for example), and that translates into fewer tons of greenhouse gasses headed for our atmosphere.

10 Comments:

Kvatch,

I'm not sure you're right, beyond the point about the relative differences in mileage after the switch to the new way of calculating mileage.

My point, if you compare pure cost of fuel only versus hybrid, I think that hybrids are more expensive per mile of use over the life of the car. Could be wrong?
Dave, I believe that you're correct. Hybrids almost certainly *are* more expensive over the life of the car. I never asserted that they weren't.

I did point out that detractors will armor their "hybrids are a bad deal" argument with a change like this. But the flaw in that reasoning is that it bases value solely on cost to operate/mile driven. The reduction in tons of CO2 produced per year is a value as well--just one that is harder to quantify. What is quantifiable with respect to C02 is that this EPA change has almost no affect on the relative levels of C02 produced by hybrids vs. conventionals.
I believe the price of hybrids will come down as technology gets better, more of them out on the road, etc.
Hi Kvatch!

Nice blog and I added you to my blogroll. It would be great if you would add my blog to yours.

:)
PT... I agree. In fact I was reading today that Toyota not only plans for hybrids to have no price premium in 5 years, they plan to make nothing but by 2020.

Suzie-Q... Thanks, and it would be my pleasure.
We need a new kind of hybrid-it should run on hot air! Plenty of politicians to fuel em.
I've never gotten the rated MPG, does anyone? Best mileage & funnest car I've had was a used Austin Healey Bug-Eyed Sprite I bought in 1971. Got 35-MPG with the top down, had a 6-gallon gas tank, which cost me $2 to fill up if I let it get down to red. I would feel unsafe driving it today with all the huge SUV's on the road. I'm looking into a hybrid for our next car, but don't like the games played with the rebates. A serious alt energy program would not cut off rebates after a mfr sells an arbitrary number each yr. Are any of the new hybrids tempting you to go auto? ~~ D.K.
Robert... "Hot air"! :-) We could probably power the nation that way.

Are any of the new hybrids tempting you to go auto?

D.K... Nope not yet. I've got a job where I telecommute 4 of 5 days a week. So I still don't need a car. But I've also turned down many job offers because they would have required that I get a car.
kvatch, you wrote:

"So suck it up and buy that hybrid anyway. You'll still get 25% better mileage than a gasoline powered version of the same car (or much more--the Civic Hybrid for example), and that translates into fewer tons of greenhouse gasses headed for our atmosphere."

The savings are all mythical. First, producing the electricity also releases combustion by-products into the atmosphere.

Second, the hybrids introduce the problem of discarded batteries. If these cars become popular, this problem will rival the discarded tire problem.

Third, many hybrids are smaller than conventional cars. Hence, when these cars are involved in serious accidents, more deaths will occur per hybrid when compared with conventional vehicles.

Fourth, no net reduction of petroleum will occur because consumers can buy energy-efficient vehicles. Or because any other energy-efficient device or mechanism is available. Greater energy efficiency only encourages more energy use.

More cars, more planes, more trucks, more trains, more buses, more ships, more air conditioning, more heating, more plastics.

Meanwhile, the number of cars in China and India is exploding. And the stunning expansion-rate of the number won't decline for a couple of decades. Thus, the impact of conservation in the US will amount to less than a rounding error in global oil consumption.
Kvatch, I absolutely love my Civic Hybrid. Not only is it the most fuel efficient car I've ever owned, it's absolutely adorable. Now I realize that "cute" should not be a factor in purchasing a car, but for me it was.

Still: the last three tankfuls I've averaged 42 MPG, and this is mostly city driving. This means I fill up every 2 1/2 to 3 weeks. The 2006 model, which I have, ranks high in every category including safety (and I think cuteness too.)

Hybrid detractors are just jealous. Or maybe not.

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