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Have Hybrid Automobiles Had Their Day? Costs Versus Payback

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

Fuel Costs for Automobiles today versus the past

Unless you have recently arrived on Earth from another planet, you must be aware of the increasing fuel costs for transportation today, around the world.

For whatever reasons that we might favor as the actual root cause of our energy problems on this planet of ours, we, all of us, are dramatically affected by the costs of oil production.

Oil is our major energy source used for the transportation of people and goods around the world today ,and, whether you like it or not, in the foreseeable future.

And, as our world population grows even more people are demanding their share consumable goods. These goods must be manufactured, and transported as efficiently as possible to everyone.

Unfortunately, as I said, we use oil and oil based fuels almost exclusively for our transportation needs, not only for ourselves, but for these goods that everyone needs or often just desire.

In the past, when gasoline was, say $1.00 a gallon, there was a specific part of the cost of a loaf of bread that paid for the gas to transport the materials and machinery to produce that loaf of bread.

Today, with gas at $4.00 a gallon, you can see that the same transportation costs are now quite a bit higher than that period of time in the past and must be passed on to the consumer.

This analogy applies to pretty much everything that we consume and use in our daily lives around the world, whether you live in the USA or in Europe, or in a remote third-world community.

We all love our luxuries, and once we have enough income to pay for necessities, we immediately head for those luxury items that make life so wonderful to so many of us.

And one of our luxuries, regardless of what country we live in, is the luxury of having personal transportation that allows us to go and do as we please, without dependence on other people or other systems of public transportation.

We all want to utilize our own personal transportation on the highways and roads, in cities and rural towns. And really, we love the personal status symbol that a personal car is in most of our societies.

Fifty years ago, we could live twenty miles from where we worked and a plentiful world oil supply allowed us to make our commutes over longer distances and at much lower costs than today.

In fact, we had so many cheap transportation options in the past that nations, states and even cities adjusted their infrastructure to accommodate the peoples desires for personal cars.

And the prevailing attitude was; damn the cost, just raise the taxes a little and every one was happy, not; Let's cut these transportation costs so we all have a better tomorrow.

My first new HYBRID CAR!

Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV

Fossil Fuel Cost Estimates versus Reality for tomorrow

The really scary thing that we all need to contemplate today, is the fact that the estimates for future fuels costs are very bleak, for the average person. Or Are They?

Here is what was driven into our heads as little as two to three years ago:

  1. Face it! There is only so much energy-generating oil on our planet.
  2. Oil is a finite resource that, as it becomes more rare, will become more expensive.
  3. Without some new and amazing paradigm that will reduce our world economic dependence on oil, possibly through some amazing new way to transport ourselves and our goods, we will most assuredly continue to see rising costs for Oil and for transportation fuels made from Oils.
  4. Politicians can play games, companies can FRACK Rocks that contain Oil, they can drill deeper wells, they can drill in even more inhospitable places, but let's face it, there is only so much Oil. Accept it!
  5. So, Let's get over our present "head in the sand" approach to the energy problem and lets try to work towards a new energy paradigm. whatever that might be.
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And, people, until we do come up with viable and implementable alternatives, the price of fuel IS GOING UP!

Scary! Right?

But wait a minute!

Now, only a few years later, the new truths about our (the US's) fuel supply is being touted to the public.

We are drowning in Oil Reserves in the US.

In fact, we have confirmed that we have enough reserves to supply the US for hundreds of years into the future.

We have so much oil that we are now a net exporter to the rest of the world.

We are selling our oil, we have so much being pumped.

The manipulation of the truth for profits

In my opinion, our planet did not just generate more oil reserves. They were already there, and we were lied to. And, I assume we were lied to for profits.

OK, OK, you can spout your little reports with their skewed data manipulations, but when you look at reality, and blow the Chaff away this Oil was obviously there a couple of years ago (eons?) and we (the oil companies) knew about them for decades, at least.

The irritating thing to me is the fact that so many of us in the US (and around the world) made life decisions that radically affected our not only our lifestyle but or wallets.

We believed what we were told and we changed where we worked, changed where we lived, changed the size of our homes, and we changed what styles and sizes of vehicles we owned.

We did these things because we believed the lies about Oil reserves and we paid the prices demanded by the outrageously rich Oil companies.

And we were tricked into downsizing our lives for their corporate profits.

I was a fool, I bought a Hybrid!

Yeah, I bought a Hybrid car. It really doesn't matter what the mpdel is or what it cost me.

I fell for the song and dance.

OK, I wasn't totally stupid. I knew that once the federal government adjusted their standards for measuring fuel economy, the mythical 60-plus MPG numbers being touted were made realistic.

Those 60's dropped to 40's for those tiny cars. And all of the other vehicle ratings dropped along with them.

I purchased a car based on my "long drive" and "short drive" needs as I saw them for the next five or more years.

I mean, I looked at what I was being told about future oil prices, and i picked a vehicle that would work for me not only now, but in the projected future of oil prices.

Fool Me Once, Shame on You!

Yeah, that old saying;

Fool me once, Shame on You.

Fool me twice, Shame on Me!

As I drove my "relatively efficient" and costly Hybrid for the next couple of years, I watched as the reality of Oil prices changed and I really did begin to feel like a fool.

Finally, I decided to recalibrate myself on Hybrid cars versus non-Hybrid cars from the perspective of a constant oil price for the next 5-10 years, considering the reserves that were now confirmed in the US.

And, guess what!

The longer I kept my Hybrid, and the older it got, along with its rapid depreciation, made my Hybrid something I needed to get rid of.

You see, at a certain point, those factory warranties on all of their very expensive Hybrid related parts run out, and you will have to replace some or all; of them, sooner or later.

I realized that my Hybrid was a 100,000-mile time bomb.

New Car or gamble on Hybrid repair costs.

Here are the realities of my situation:

  1. I had put a lot more miles on it than I had thought I would, and I was approaching the half-way point on my very expensive extended warranty.
  2. Newer cars that met my same constraints as before, for the hybrid, were now priced better and much more technically efficient in fuel management.
  3. A conventional new gas powered car would cost a lot less to repair when it hit that same 100,000-mile range due tot he lack of so many very expensive Hybrid-centric parts.
  4. By the time each reached that 100,000-mile mark, the resale price of an old Hybrid was probably going to be a lot less than that of a comparative, conventional gas powered car.

So, after much thought, I re-looked at the official federal fuel economy site, where all vehicles are listed, and I bought the gas-powered car.

I bought it, not only because of my reasoning in this article, but also because I realized something else.

Hybrid manufacturers are not ready!

OK, I admit, for the city dweller, the electric and small commuter-type Hybrid cars work well.

But what about those of us that actually travel, or have several kids, or are sports enthusiasts that require using specialized gear, or just need to haul things occasionally.?

Do we get one of the tiny tin cans with hybrid drive trains and trade them every two or three years? Essentially throwing away thousands of dollars lost in every trade?

Do we rent one for two years? Well, NO. Rentals have limited annual mileage allowances and this is typically 10K to 12K or maybe 15K per year, so you get a big bill when you turn yours in and have gone over these tight mileage limits.

And, let me mention one more problem with Hybrids that they don't tell you.

Hybrids are designed from end to end, with their software and their mechanical parts to be at their peak efficiency when they are driven EXACTLY 55-MPH. If you get onto an interstate with their 70-MPH speed limits, your efficiency drops dramatically.

And, if you throw something heavy in the trunk? WOW!

In Summary, be a wary shopper when you consider a Hybrid.

And, my assumption from my first-hand knowledge of owning a Hybrid, is that the Hybrid manufacturers of today, do not have an efficient Hybrid design that meets the needs of the average American driver. You see, there is a new player on the market these days, and that's the ELECTRIC CAR.

If you need something to go to the supermarket down the road, get an Electric car (or maybe a Hybrid?) Hybrid.

If you need something to drive a limited distance to work each day, then get an Electric Car (or maybe a Hybrid).

But, if you need to travel any decent distances in this great country of ours? You had best consider staying with a gas-powered vehicle.

Sure, the Electric cars are improving each year, but our country's commitment to building an infrastructure of electric dar charging stations has lagged the sale of these vehicles.

Sorry folks, but that's the way it is right now.

And, don't even mention Diesel vehicles, whose fuel is now artificially priced at least $0.40 or more, higher per gallon, than regular gasoline. This is another interesting subject. Diesel costs less to make than gasoline, but it now costs significantly more? Hmmmm!


How a Hybrid System works in an automobile


Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on April 19, 2012:

puter_dr, thanks for the comment. And, I appreciate your situation, I noticed that those people that got the 50+ mpg were sacrificing a lot of comforts and space. That's what finally drove me to getting a "full-size" hybrid. We felt that we needed the space, and this one is just right for our needs.

In fact, we have 2 couples visiting us this week, and it is very comfortable with the third row seating.

The more we use it, the more we like our choice.

Mike Bouska from Midwest USA on April 19, 2012:

Congrats on the new wheels. I would like to make the jump to hybrid at some point. It makes sense. WE rented a Prius Hybrid a while back, and enjoyed it. It is just too small for us.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on April 19, 2012:

Express10, thanks for the comment. this really is a troublesome subject, as we watch our natural resources seep away. I used to to an economic analysis and carefully calculate my payback on a Hybrid or electric vehicle. Now, I really think we just need to DO IT!

H C Palting from East Coast on April 18, 2012:

Beautiful vehicle that as you pointed out, can carry real sized humans and lessens your dependency on oil. This is interesting and very useful. What I find strange is the ostriches with their heads in the sand approach when the majority of people are asked about this type of stuff.

I tell you, years ago our power in much of Hampton Roads was out for 2 WEEKS and it certainly made me think about what I use, my ability to be self-sufficient, and my over reliance on certain things. Hope that type of thing doesn't have to happen for others to take at least small steps in the direction you're heading.

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