14. May 2005 · Comments Off on A Hybrid In Your Future? Probably Not · Categories: General

I’ve just been watching an interview with that idiot, Robert F. Kennedy jr. on Cavuto. He was pushing the idea that we must give up our SUVs in favor of hybrids (ignoring the fact that the Lexus RX400h is an SUV as well as a hybrid).

Among the nonsense this Buffoon was spouting included the proposition that drilling in ANWR would have only a .02% increase in the nation’s oil reserves, and then only after 10 years, while an increase of 1 mpg in CAFE standards would be the equivalent of IMMEDIATELY doubling currently exploited Alaskan oil. As for the former, (whether or not the figure is correct, which I haven’t checked) it is a disingenuous mixing of terms. The fact that ANWR would have only a small effect on the nation’s oil supply is that, in today’s marketplace, that supply is indifferentiable from the world’s oil supply. The energy/enviro nazis play this down. but that fact gives lie to the whole concept of “energy independence.” In order to achieve such a goal, we would need a nationalized petroleum industry, with the capability to supply greater than 100% of the nation’s requirements. As for the later, it should be obvious that any effect from a change in CAFE standards would not be seen until a significant portion of the national fleet is replaced by newer models; it wouldn’t be felt for years.

Specifically on the matter of hybrids, RFK jr., parrots the conventional assumption that they will become a major portion of the fleet within a few years. But a more thorough analysis places that assumption in great doubt. First, despite a substantial price premium (about $5000) over equivalent conventional vehicles, industry insiders widely agree that the market leaders, Toyota and Honda, are at best realizing a near-zero marginal profit on every hybrid vehicle they produce. However, this price premium doesn’t pay for itself in increased fuel economy, especially since most owners report far lower fuel economy than EPA estimates

Second, long term maintenance costs are sure to be higher than equivalent conventional vehicles. Besides the limited lifetime of the battery packs, the massive increase in the complexity of these vehicles just means there’s more to go wrong. Long term owners are sure to find that, just when they’ve saved enough on fuel to recover their initial investment, they start getting hit with 4-figure repair bills.

The first two points have not been lost on the general consumer. Which brings us to the third: rather than a massive portion of the overall market, J.D. Power and Assoc. predicts that hybrid sales will top-out at only about 3%. At that rate, it is doubtful that Toyota and Honda, to say nothing of later entrants into the marketplace, will never achieve profitability with hybrids. And, free of government subsidies or mandates, it’s unlikely production will continue.

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