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Consumers choose fuel efficient normal vehicles over EVs and hybrids

Despite the fact that gas prices are at record levels in many parts of the country, the sales of electric vehicles are still falling. Many consumers are staying away from electric vehicles due to the relatively high cost of entry and range anxiety (in the case of the Nissan Leaf).
Two of the most popular electric vehicles in the country are the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The Volt isn't a traditional electric vehicle; rather it's an extended range hybrid that runs on battery power and features a generator to recharge the battery for extended driving. GM says that in the month of April 2012 1,462 Volts were sold, which represents 200% increase from April of 2011 when 493 were sold.
April was the second best month for retail sales of Volt cars since it launched in 2010. Interestingly, the good month for Volt sales comes not long after GM suspended production of the car due to soft demand.

Chevrolet Volt sales are up.
While sales of the Volt were up, the Nissan Leaf saw sales fall 35% with only 370 units sold. Nissan hopes to sell 20,000 Leaf EVs this year, and will have to sell over 2200 monthly to meet that goal.
While electric vehicle sales are down, Ford has a booming business with its fuel-efficient EcoBoost-powered vehicles. Ford has announced that it has started a third shift at the Cleveland plant that builds EcoBoost engines.
The addition of a third shift to the engine building plant will add 250 jobs. However, most of those positions will be filled by employees that are transferring from a different Cleveland engine plant that will be placed on idle later this week.

The 2013 Ford Fusion will offer two EcoBoost four-cylinder engine options.
"Our engine plant in Cleveland is the first and only facility in North America to produce EcoBoost engines, and we are tripling production capacity to meet customers' growing needs for fuel-efficient engines," said Ford Americas President Mark Fields during a celebration with employees at the plant Tuesday. "EcoBoost engines are a key part of our plan to give customers the power of choice — from EcoBoost-powered vehicles and hybrids, to plug-in hybrids and full electrics."
Ford's EcoBoost engine has found its way the under the hood of everything from full-sized trucks to small economy vehicles. EcoBoost engines use a smaller displacement engine with turbochargers for increased power and fuel efficiency. 

Sources: Detroit News, Detroit News

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Makes perfect sense
By Church of Dirac on 5/2/2012 12:26:43 PM , Rating: 1
The current Fusion Hybrid gets 39MPG combined while the SE 2.5L auto gets 26MPG according to the EPA. Running costs for the Hybrid are $1,500 compared to $2,250, so a savings of $750 a year. The SE is $22,975 and the Hybrid is $28,775. A $5800 premium which would take 7.75 years to recoup. Not much of a savings, plus you run the risk of more expensive repairs due to batteries, etc. The new 1.6L turbo is expected to do even better.
Part of the problem is using MPG instead of the more logical L/100KM or similar (Gal/100Miles???). MPG is inversely proportional to your expenditure, the volume of fuel used, while L/100KM is directly proportional. This means that the space between the numbers corresponds to a dollar amount, so the difference between say 2L/100KM and 4L/100KM is the same as 8L/100KM and 10L/100KM. With the MPG scale, the difference between 10MPG and 20MPG is the same as 30MPG and 60MPG. Higher MPG is just a marketing tool. Here is a graph showing the relationship.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By nolisi on 5/2/2012 12:46:42 PM , Rating: 5
Besides the power train, there are huge differences in standard equipment. People who argue against hybrids ALWAYS overlook this.

The SE doesn't come with sync, Dual climate zones, and several power features. The base SEL at $25,425 is a closer match featurewise. When you factor this in, the differential drops to $3,350, which takes 4.5 years to recoup- well within the life of a 5 year loan.

Also, factor in better resale value of hybrids, a longer warranty over the hybrid powertrain (8 years), and the fact that you have a higher potential for better than EPA returns on mileage (I bought an Escape, I can easily achieve 36-38 mpg in mixed driving, well above EPA estimates), and the picture is much different.

Hybrids don't make sense for everyone. But one shouldn't skew/overlook the facts by equating base models when they have substantially different standard features. Most manufacturers package more standard features with base model hybrids compared to standard ICE vehicles.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By mcnabney on 5/2/2012 1:31:20 PM , Rating: 1
Also, the satisfaction of knowing that less of your money is going to people that hate us / want to kill us.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Arsynic on 5/2/2012 1:55:28 PM , Rating: 5

RE: Makes perfect sense
By geddarkstorm on 5/2/2012 2:38:43 PM , Rating: 3
They are devious fellows, trying to kill us by making us fat from their delicious maple syrup. The Canadians have many diabolical plans in motion!

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Samus on 5/2/2012 4:08:06 PM , Rating: 1
Buying a hybrid is like having a pre-paid cell contract. The up front cost is higher, but you DO break even, especially on how you use it.

Many people just own hybrids for the wrong reasons. Ideally, you shouldn't do a lot of high-speed "highway" travel, and you should operate in a temperate climate that won't stress the batteries. Garaging the vehicle will help fight parasitic loss. Again, these are all unreasonable demands for many people, and those are the people who should not be considering a hybrid, and instead, a safe, simple beater.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By macawvet on 5/2/2012 9:00:38 PM , Rating: 2
Blame Canada!
South Park, USA

RE: Makes perfect sense
By WalksTheWalk on 5/3/2012 11:04:27 AM , Rating: 2
The fact remains that the US is not prepared for mass adoption of electric vehicles from an infrastructure standpoint. We are close to capacity for the current electrical power plant infrastructure so more electrical power plants would be needed. This brings up a whole other fight about electric power sources: coal vs nuclear vs hydro vs solar vs geothermal vs etc.

Adding to this is the fact that electrical power storage is nowhere near where it needs to be for price-efficient mass adoption of electric vehicles.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By autoboy on 5/2/12, Rating: -1
RE: Makes perfect sense
By Jeffk464 on 5/2/2012 2:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
Thats the funny part, we probably sell motor oil to Saudi Arabia.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Mint on 5/2/2012 2:44:34 PM , Rating: 3
If you actually looked at the numbers you'd know that your conclusions are way off. Yes, the US refines oil and exports some of the products, but it's only a small net export - 0.4M barrels/day - and it used to be a net import for 60+ years before 2011.

Compare that to its gas consumption of 8.8M barrels/day, which needs 18.8M/day barrels of crude to produce. It only produces ~6M barrels of crude, so no, it does not produce anywhere near enough oil to feed its own gas consumption.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Mint on 5/2/2012 2:46:28 PM , Rating: 2
(to be clear, 0.4M barrels/day is the net export of gasoline only)

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Ringold on 5/2/2012 9:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
If you actually looked at the numbers you'd know that your conclusions are way off.

They don't, though. This net-exporting of refined products line I first heard Obama's campaign advance, then some lefty blogs started trumpeting it, and now the legions of useful idiots out there are repeating it like absolute gospel because they were led to believe it was important.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Jeffk464 on 5/2/2012 2:38:18 PM , Rating: 2
The rich saudi royal family members don't want to kill their Oil consumers. How would they possibly be able to afford to fly unsuccessful hollywood starlets to fill their harems if it weren't for all the money you give them filling up your SUV?

RE: Makes perfect sense
By SoCalBoomer on 5/2/2012 6:42:46 PM , Rating: 1
Let's see. . .countries we get stuff to make EV/Hybrids:

Lithium: Chile (hate us); China (love to take our money, don't really like us)
Neodymium : China
Dysprosium (used to make the motors and control systems): China

Yep, less of my money is going to people who hate us (Chile) or want to kill us - they just want to buy us out. . .

RE: Makes perfect sense
By FITCamaro on 5/2/2012 1:35:13 PM , Rating: 3
The purpose of a hybrid is to save fuel. Yet the only way to get most hybrids is in the top, read: heaviest, trims.

Not everyone wants all those other features. My guess is they force it because the markups on those luxury features is huge and they use that to subsidize the cost of the hybrid system.

The fact is that hybrids are more expensive. Regardless of why.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By nolisi on 5/2/2012 2:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
The fact is that hybrids are more expensive.

Pay attention to the conversation: no one is arguing against the fact that hybrids are more expensive.

However, that fact is mitigated substantially by features included. In other words, value.

No one compares a BMW 3 series to a Toyota Yaris. Besides the fact that they are aimed at totally different market segments, their standard features list is completely different. However, the BMW3 series appeals to people based on multiple factors of value that the Yaris doesn't provide.

You also don't compare a base model Corolla against a Civic SI even if they are in the same segment- their price points and, subsequently, target audience are different, again, because of their features.

The same idea applies to a Fusion SE and Base Fusion Hybrid. Their standard equipment list is different, and therefore they offer different value even if the features are there to mitigate the cost of the hybrid power train.

The bottom line is the value that the manufacturer is able to offer with a particular package. And given the feature list, the value provided by the hybrid trim is much greater than just fuel efficiency, making a comparison against the SE invalid if you're only comparing on the basis of efficiency.

Further, no one wants to buy a hybrid that feels technically the same as a base model.

So, it's not just cost subsidy. Manufacturers target vehicle packages at price points that most buyers are likely
fall into. They have one package for bare bones buyers, but if someone is likely to spend $26/27 K on a vehicle, they're also likely to want to add on certain features. It makes it easier to provide dealers with stock and further incentivize that stock.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Jeffk464 on 5/2/2012 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yup the new 240hp BMW 3 series is the ultimate economy car.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By chromal on 5/3/2012 11:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
The BMW HybridActive 3 sedan looks sweet, at least, if you're into sedans with automatic transmissions, but at a MSRP starting over $50K, you can hardly call this an economy car. Try 'luxury sedan.'

Even if I could afford one, I would keep looking unless they offered it as a wagon and with a 6-speed manual transmission. That's just how I roll. ;)

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Jeffk464 on 5/2/2012 2:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
PS I think the BMW 3 series was designed to push up BMW's fleet average MPG. But it should sell well to people that want and can afford an upscale car but have a green mindset or believe in energy independence. Traditionally upscale cars have been pretty bad resource guzzlers.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Church of Dirac on 5/2/2012 3:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously you've never seen the M3 :-P. Although BMW makes a new 320d ED which is rated for (and got in magazine testing) 4.1L/100km combined which is 57MPG. Plus it has 161hp. Too bad we'll never see it in the States.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Mint on 5/2/2012 4:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
26MPG combined isn't particularly green. It is quite good for the performance, however.

The M35h is more impressive in that regard, IMO. It's a much bigger upscale car than the 3 and has 360HP, but is gets 30MPG. Nissan should figure out how to fit a bigger battery in there and make it a plugin, as everything else is already there.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Just Tom on 5/5/2012 11:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
Yet, despite your arguments the only hybrid that sells in any quantities is the Prius. So obviously the value the market has set for hybrids is not what the automakers think it should be. Unless the major auto manufacturers wish to have monthly sales in the 100's for their flagship hybrids.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By CK804 on 5/2/12, Rating: 0
RE: Makes perfect sense
By FITCamaro on 5/3/2012 9:43:05 AM , Rating: 2
And that torque peaks equally quickly.

Yes electric motors can deliver good low end performance. Doesn't take away from the fact that batteries are heavy and expensive.

As far as smoothness and quietness, if the slight noise of the engine of most cars today (assuming you hear it at all) bothers you, maybe you need to be a little less anal. In stock form I could barely hear my cars engine. And as far as smoothness, that depends on how I drive it.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Flunk on 5/3/2012 7:51:01 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think optional creature comforts are really that important to the people looking for the best possible deal. If you're scraping together the money to buy the car in the first place you don't really care how many climate zones or electronic gadgets it has.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By DukeN on 5/3/2012 11:08:00 AM , Rating: 2
I have a hybrid and my argument is because of the additional electric drivetrain, my engine takes much less of a beating.

Also, I drive a lot more than the typical driver so my savings on a hybrid are a lot better than a non-hybrid.

Lastly, I bought a three year old pre-owned hybrid than a brand new one. Difference between my car and similar non-hybrid was at the time approx $1000-$1500 (thanks to hybrid fear mongering)

RE: Makes perfect sense
By nolisi on 5/2/2012 12:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
The one benefit standard ICE vehicles have is you can typically make a deal/get incentives which drive the price well below MSRP, especially toward the end of the year when dealers are trying to liquidate stock. But this is always a case by case basis.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By robertisaar on 5/2/2012 1:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
so.... you want to move to a non-linear fuel economy system?

the average consumer has enough trouble with the system that is already in place. and it's considerably simpler to use.

10 MPG compared to 20 MPG. in one, i'll be able to travel twice as far as the other using the same amount of fuel. if i travel 100 miles, i'll use 10 gallons of fuel in one, 5 gallons in the other.

now move over to gallons per 100 miles, for example.

now you're asking the average person to do division, which is a bad idea. but now we see that the one vehicle will have a rating of 10gal/100mile, the other 5gal/100 mile...

i really don't see a benefit to be had from converting from a system that already works, to one that states the same information in a different unit of measurement...

RE: Makes perfect sense
By alpha754293 on 5/2/2012 1:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
miles per gallon makes it easy for people to calculate "how far can I go before I run out?"

L/100 km or gal/miles (inverse of mpg) makes more sense from a purely "efficiency" perspective, but as stated, it's not really all that practical.

When you ask someone how far they're travelling, you don't measure it in L or gal.

The other thing is that between mpg or L/100km and the size of the tank, you can calculate all sorts of marketing gimmicks. The reality is this: if you're going from 30 mpg to 60 mpg, you're twice as efficient.

Just as if you're going from 4 L/100 km to 2 L/100 km - same thing.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Church of Dirac on 5/2/2012 2:30:23 PM , Rating: 2
Fuel per unit distance (L/100km, gallons per mile, etc) is a measure of consumption. Rate of consumption is a very practical measure and is often used in aviation, engineering, and other fields. In addition, much of the world uses it to describe fuel economy in car. It works well for comparison shopping since the scale is linear and intuitive.

It is just as easy to figure out how far to go using fuel consumption. "I have 20L left in my tank and my car uses 7.3L/100km, 20L/7.3L/100km=272km". I'm sure anyone concerned with fuel economy can handle that simple arithmetic.

My 330i has an analog "MPG gauge" which is supposed to read out in L/100km but reads MPG in a strange inverse scale. L/100km directly corresponds with current fuel usage and how much of your money is getting burned. For example, if gas is priced at $1/L, L/100km = dollars/100km. You could easily program the trip computer to accept the current price of gas and read out $/mile. Miles per $ doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Spuke on 5/2/2012 3:11:15 PM , Rating: 2
It works well for comparison shopping since the scale is linear and intuitive.
MPG works extremely well for comparison shopping and is intuitive also. This system works and all 350 million of us understand it. How much you have left is largely irrelevant and handled by a simple gauge that all cars have. I look at my gauge to see how much fuel I have and if it's too low I fuel up. See how easy that is? There's absolutely NO need for other measurements when the one's we have work perfectly.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Ringold on 5/2/2012 9:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
As far as aviation goes, that's not quite right. Fuel consumption was given in terms of quantity per hour, not quantity per distance.

In fact, what I usually ended up doing to make my life easier was converting it to MPG for the cruise portion of the flight so I wasn't dicking around with a flight computer to figure out my range. I had standard take off, departure and approach quantities, then gave myself a slightly high-ball estimate based on MPG, and called it a day. (Not the FAA-approved method, but I over-provisioned at every step, so never would've got myself in a bad situation. The math was just quicker and easier)

Since different planes cruise at different speeds, for comparisons that were easy for my American brain to relate to I always calculated and compared different aircraft based on MPG at economy cruise as well.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Determinanto on 5/2/2012 2:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
Your math is incorrect.

When you compare 2L/100KM and 4L/100KM vs 8L/100KM and 10L/100KM, you are comparing the difference which is identical.

When you compare 10MPG and 20MPG vs 30MPG and 60MPG, you are comparing the ratio (not the difference!). So yes these numbers have the same ratio but the difference is different (no pun intended).

You have succeeded in confusing yourself with a neat looking graph. To convince yourself that what I am saying is correct, you can convert all the numbers to L/100KM and do your comparisons again.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Church of Dirac on 5/2/2012 2:50:47 PM , Rating: 2
Gah! You're right, good catch. I blame it on lack of coffee. In any case, it gets the point across even more, given that at the same difference in consumption, the step from 10MPG to 11MPG is close to the same difference as the jump from 50MPG to 100MPG.

RE: Makes perfect sense
By Just Tom on 5/5/2012 12:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
Gah! You're right, good catch. I blame it on lack of coffee. In any case, it gets the point across even more, given that at the same difference in consumption, the step from 10MPG to 11MPG is close to the same difference as the jump from 50MPG to 100MPG.

Have another cup of coffee.

The gain incurred going from 10MPG to 11MPG is 10%, either 10% further distance travelled per unit of gasoline. The gain with going from 50MPG to 100MPG is 100%. How are they close to the same distance?

Your problem is you seem to forget that MPG and L/100KM measure the same thing/i>. I am going to use Gallons/100 Miles to avoid conversion messiness.

Here is the equation for MPG: MPG = miles traveled/gallons used.

And the equation for G/100M: G/100M = (Gallons used/miles traveled)*100 per 100 miles

The equation for G/100M is also: (1/MPG)*100 per 100 miles

MPG makes determing cost per trip and distance till empty easier than L/100KM, although both are fairly trivial.

Equation for cost per trip (MPG measure): cost = price per gallon*distance of trip/MPG

Equation for cost per trip (L/100KM measure):cost = price per litre * distance of trip * L/100KM)

Equation for distance till empty (MPG Measure): distance = MPG * gallons left in tank.

Equation for distance till empty (L/100KM Measure): distance = litres left in tank * (1/L/100KM))

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