Since I got some well thought responses to my last post regarding efforts to reach better fuel mileage goals I thought I would respond back in a post that would be easier for everyone to read.
As I said in my original comments, I am strongly in favor of reaching the goal of better fuel efficiency both for environmental and national security reasons. But I am also conscious of the need to be realistic about things and just what it is going to take to reach those goals.
My original discussion focused more on the fact that at present it is going to be difficult to reach the projected goals without sacrificing either safety (IE car size) or speed of the vehicle. I also expressed doubts as to how quickly the car companies would be able to redesign and retool.
One responder correctly pointed out that with regard to plug in type vehicles there is a considerable issue of infrastructure to consider as well as the fact that while you might not burn fuel to drive the car somebody somewhere has to burn something to produce the electricity for you to plug in to.
Another responder pointed out that Toyota offers the Prius which does get great fuel mileage. I am second to none in my respect for the Prius but the fact remains it is a smaller, less sturdy car (my Mom owns one and I frequently drive it). This is not to say that it is entirely unsafe, but it is less safe and less spacious than my Nissan and much less roomy that the vehicles driven by my sister’s family.
I actually considered buying a hybrid about a year ago when I was car shopping, but when I ran the numbers things did not quite work out as well as I would have hoped.
At the time I was shopping I had every intent of looking at a hybrid but found that most of the models ran about $ 10,000 higher than their traditional cousins. The traditional models I looked at ran in the $ 18,000 to $ 20,000 range while the hybrid models all ran over $ 25,000 and often over $ 30,000. Despite the stereotype not all lawyers are rich and in my case I would have really had to stretch to come up with that extra money. I can only imagine what a family would have to do to make the same stretch.
Even when you factor in better fuel economy it does not work out very well. I get about 30 MPG from my Nissan while my Mom gets about 50 from her Prius. I drive about 10,000 miles a year but the average driver is closer to 12,000 so I’ll use that figure.
At 12,000 miles a year you’d need to buy 400 gallons of gas for the Nissan or 240 for the Prius. That’s a difference of 160 gallons a year so if you drove the car for 10 years you would use 1600 more gallons. Assuming gas ran as high as $ 5 per gallon it still only works out to a savings of $ 8,000 versus the $ 10,000 extra the car cost originally.
This is not to say that I wouldn’t be willing to spend a little extra for a cleaner burning car, but in this case I really didn’t have the money available. For hybrid cars to be realistic options we need to get them to be much less expensive for the average family to afford it.
Again, for anyone in the West Wing who happens to read this, many of us out here are strongly in support of your ideas but when the good cars cost more than we can reasonably afford, it doesn’t matter how many you produce, they aren’t going to do much good on the car lot.