Was anyone else incensed by this Sunday's New York Times articles on hybrid cars, and in particular the information provided on Honda? The essential topic of the article was to point out that many hybrids are using the technology not to reduce overall fuel consumption, but to instead increase performance without using more fuel. This is certainly true in some cases (Accord, RX400h, others), but as an HCH owner I was really annoyed by some of the statistics included in this piece. For example, the article
states: "Performance in the Civic hybrid is slightly lower than the original model, Mr. Boyd said, and as a result it gets 36 miles per gallon instead of 29."
Excuse me? Who here is getting 36 mpg? Even when I drive in classic Massachusetts style... accelerating at maximum speed to gain a one car advantage or maintaining 85 mph regardless of terrain, I still get 42-45 mpg in my HCH. Who are these drivers?
I find myself thinking of a quote I read somehere... I'll paraphrase: It's not just the technology that is allowing us hybrid owners to get better fuel economy. It's the information we are provided that make us better drivers. Even in my wife's Audi A4, I find that I get about 4 mpg better mileage now because I have been conditioned by the constant feedback I get in my HCH to drive differently.
Listen to this guy, quoted in the article: "I wasn't prepared to give up anything to 'go green' - not performance, amenities, or space."
I guess this is mainstream America at its most classic. How successful can hybrid technology be when Americans refuse to change their behavior in the slightest? Are the members of this forum (getting 46 mpg on average) so outside of the mainstream?
Last edited by Orbity; 07-18-2005 at 07:06 AM.
It seems that there is often a media bias toward "the glass is half empty" when it comes to hybrids. It reminds me of what happened earlier this year (or was it last year, I can't remember) when a representative from CBS news was contacting various Prius owners about thier fuel economy. Specifically, they were looking to interview those whe were disappointed. Unfortunately they couldn't find any. When asked if they were interested in interviewing owners that were happy with the fuel economy, they declined, saying something to the effect of "that's not the story that the editors want".
I think the 36MPG figure comes from Consumer reports. The Prius was given a 44MPG by the same publication. If I remember correctly that issue of CR came out in the winter so my guess is that they tested a brand new (not broken in) HCH and Prius in the dead of winter. That would perhaps explain those results.
How outside of the mainstream are we ? That is a very interesting question.
I'd have to say very, based on a couple of observations:
1. Half the population buys trucks or SUV's for personal transport; another fraction of the population would, if their finances allowed.
2. The greater majority of hybrid owners are familiar with their car's EPA pollution ratings, and how they compare to other cars on the road. The vast majority of non-hybrid owners don't know such a thing exists, and couldn't care less.
3. Perhaps most telling -- even in hybrid owning families, it is very common to hear that only one person in the family is interested in FE or pollution. The SO tolerates the behavior so long as it does not intrude on travel time, convenience, or AC. That, despite a full-time propaganda machine blowing in their ear ! My wife is actually very tolerant of my attitudes, and no doubt would be called a 'liberal' by mainstream america. But put her behind the wheel, and she first fiddles with the AC to put it on full blast. No matter I many times I tell her that she will cool off *quicker* by opening the windows first for a couple of minutes, she continues her old habits. Even getting her to put up the sunscreen is a hit or miss proposition -- in New Mexico, where the sun really shines.
Adults are conservative people, and many of them are reactionary. Add to that a lifetime of learning to push a button for comfort, as well as vested commercial interests that encourage us to keep buying the same old thing -- and there you are.
R2-E2, 2G Prius.
Highway/City/Husband/Wife MPG: 56.5, as of 12/2005, 26K miles
Jac Nasser, Ford President: "We are planning to launch a hybrid version of
this car [P2000] within this year . We will also make FCEV available in
I hear ya Orbity.
Could these be the same people that cry about paying $2-$3 a gallon for gas. I don't think Americans are ready to give up their Hummers and large SUVs yet. Its to much of a statis symbol. I've owned 4 cyl vehicles all my life and never had to worry about giving up performance, amenities, or space. I never needed a vehicle that needed it's own zip code.
CBS had a news segment on HCH last year. I'll see if I can dig it up and post it. It really angered me after seeing it.
pan down to the videos section till you get to "hybrids disappoint owners" May 28, 2004
After watching it, I emailed CBS to find out how many hybrid owners they polled before doing the segment. I also gave them my mileage and asked them if they wanted to do a report on me and my car. They never responded back (go figure). The clown in this video was looking to get his face on tv (mo miles). Yea buddy....have your wife throw you in the river while she's at it!!!!!!
....Could these be the same people that cry about paying $2-$3 a gallon for gas. I don't think Americans are ready to give up their Hummers and large SUVs yet. Its to much of a statis symbol. I've owned 4 cyl vehicles all my life and never had to worry about giving up performance, amenities, or space. I never needed a vehicle that needed it's own zip code.
I just get this impression that a lot of the people that drive them fancy it makes them look a little more like this. Yeah, "Don't mess with me!"....
Roads have gotten more crowded the last dozen years. It's gotten like Wal-Mart, where people are so obsessed with what they are doing they just run over people. My hutch is "it's OK to run over people on the highway if I'm bigger". Just a pet theory of mine....
I find myself wondering if the collective clout of this site could gain some (more) news time. Can Jason (owner) write a similar letter to the Times or CBS or news outlet of choice to counter some of this propaganda?
I know that the person interviewed for the article was horribly misquoted, and his words were twisted out of context in order to fit the writer's slant on the article.
How do I know this ? Because I'm the person who was interviewed for the article.
IMO, that article has done irreparable harm to the cause of FE awareness, and of hybrids in general. And I bear a good portion of the responsibility for that, even if my words were taken out of context, by agreeing to be interviewed for the article.
Words can't express how truly terrible I feel right now. When I saw the article yesterday, I was hoping against hope that it would 'fly under the radar' - but now that I see that it hasn't, I feel that I have no choice but to leave the site, and keep my 'mouth' shut on the public internet. A letter to the NYT editorial staff will be forthcoming - little good that it'll do. Since I had direct involvement with this fiasco, it suffices to say that my confidence in the fourth estate has further eroded - again, most likely irreparably.
With that, I will take leave, and apologize once again to everyone within and without for the harm I've caused.
PS: A sincere thanks to everyone who gave me advice, encouragement & help (you know who you are).
Sometimes we could all use a little less
My hybrid automobiles:
2006 Honda Civic Hybrid (CVT, w/o Nav)
Magnetic Pearl / Blue - 008661, born 12/28/05
Mods: Neck pillows, Garmin C330 Nav, Draw-tite 1.25" hitch (for bikes, not towing!), Pioneer Inno XM receiver via Aux jack, OEM mud flaps, more to come!
Hypermiler status on 3/12/06 @ 3077mi.