Anyone own a gas-electric hybrid car?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bob McLaughlin, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    I am curious about the performance of these vehicles. No, I'm not expecting them to be an Indy race car, but how well do they do on acceleration, steep hills, etc?

    How well do the batteries do in extreme cold? If you don't run the car for a day or two and the temperature is in the teens, do the batteries get sluggish?

    Are the batteries good for the life of the car? How expensive is it to replace them?

    Also, how good is the air conditioning in one of these cars?

    Anyone who has any real-life experience with these cars, please let me know. The websites for the car companies are a bit biased.
     
  2. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Bob,
    I think Honda warranties the batteries for eight years. I remember reading that in their literature.
    Regarding the rest- www.hybridcars.com. They have a forum.
    I'm holding out for the Acura DN-X, myself. A car nut like me has to have his economy with a healthy dose of performance.[​IMG]
    Todd
     
  3. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Bob, there was a discussion here (a long time ago) about the Toyota Prius. It might still turn up in a search. As I recall, in addition to addressing the acceleration issue, Steve Schaffer contributed some remarkable Insight (Hyuck!) by explaining the technical differences between a true hybrid (Toyota) vs. a gas-powered car with electrical assist (Honda). I've never driven one, but there's a guy on my morning commute who drives a Honda Insight and has no trouble keeping up with my 1988 CRS Si - not a speed demon, but certainly a car with "spirited" performance.
    I'm holding out, too, but for a different reason (but possibly for the same car as Todd). UltraCapacitors (even better than SuperCapacitors [​IMG]) will eventuall replace batteries, eliminating the need for chemical storage of electrical energy altogether. This technology is intended to go into the Accura DN-X, but I'll certainly consider any car that has the technology.
     
  4. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I'm considering the Prius for my next "run-around-town-pick-up-my-son-from-daycare" car.. [​IMG]
    I like the Insight, but I need the extra room of a 4-door. I also like the new Hybrid Civic. It is also a 4-door.
    By the time I buy a new car, 2+ years, there should be some more models to choose from. Wasn't Ford going to make a hybrid Escape?
     
  5. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    I have a VW TDI, gets 45 MPG and has good acceleration
    and no batteries to worry about
     
  6. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Toyota warrants the battery pack and other hybrid components of the Prius for 8 years.

    The Prius will easily cruise at 75-80 mph, does 0-60 in times comparable to a Corolla or 4 cyl. Camry. One of my co-workers was cruising up the Grapevine (notoriously long steep freeway grade between Bakersfield and LA) at 65 mph in his Camry when he was passed by a Prius with 4 people aboard.

    The Hybrid batteries won't go dead if the car isn't driven for a week or more.

    There is an auxiliary 12v battery to maintain computer memory and such, and it will go dead if the auto-off headlight feature is left on and the car isn't driven for several weeks. Not a problem if you turn the switch to the off position before leaving the car unused for extended periods.

    We have a surprising number of folks who run out of gas in their Prius(es). Seems you need to fill it up so seldom that they forget to fill it at all.

    The engine, once warmed up, will stop every time you come to a stop in traffic so no gas is used unless the car is actually moving. When the light turns green it moves off on electric only, then the engine seamlessly restarts about halfway across the intersection.

    The car has a constant-variable transmission, so when you mash the go pedal the engine will rev up to it's most efficient rpm and the car "catches up", sorta like the old Buick Dynaflows which were single speed automatics with very high stall speed torque converters.

    It's an eerily quiet little car, and specifically engineered so that the hybrid system's operation is as transparent as possible. In other words it drives just like a regular car, with no tricks to learn or weird stuff to get used to. It's a surprisingly roomy car for it's size, with plenty of room front and rear for 4 passengers (5 in a pinch).

    Toyota is already marketing a Hybrid minivan in Japan, with plans to introduce more hybrid models in this country in the next few years.
     
  7. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    I could not even get a test drive of the prius when I was looking
    not that it would have made a difference, the prius is built for "munchkins" ( I am 6'6" and 400 pounds)
    but I really like the concept, just wish they would have used a diesel, I have heard that they have one in Japan with a diesel
    I keep waiting for VW to build a TDI hybrid, should be good for about 80 MPG
     
  8. Benjamin_L

    Benjamin_L Stunt Coordinator

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    Count me in as another fellow whose been eyeing hybrids for some time.
    Could any of you car-audio enthusiasts tell me whether one of these babies could handle a badass stereo system? I'm thinking more in the range of overall tone quality rather than neighbor-waking bass, if that makes any difference.
    If Honda built a hybrid in their Civic Coupe, I would have hopped on the bandwagon already.[​IMG] Those things are hotties!
     
  9. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    there should be no problem with a good stereo system, it has a normal 12 volt electrical system for the normal car systems, the electrical drive system is seperate
    honda has a civic hybrid 4 door, but it is not a true hybrid like the prius
     
  10. Ben Seibert

    Ben Seibert Stunt Coordinator

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    If the Hondas are not true hybrids, then what is different about the Toyota that makes them true hybrids?
     
  11. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    In a true hybrid, the car is capable of running exclusively on either the gasoline engine or the battery, in addition to a combination of both.
    The Hondas are designed as "Electrically Assisted Gasoline Vehicles," which means that they cannot run exclusively on the batteries, so the gasoline engine has to be running any time the car is moving.
    They're both just different design philosophies, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Toyota's approach allows electric-only propulsion, which can be more efficient, but requires a much more complex design. Honda's approach, on the other hand, is much simpler and even eliminates the need for a separate starter motor, since the "electrical assist" motor is inline with the gasonine engine and serves that purpose.
    Steve, correct me if I'm wrong. [​IMG]
     
  12. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I don't think I'd say the Honda is not a true hybrid--don't think there's any established standard that would necessarily disqualify it. It's gas engine does shut off at stops, just like the Prius. It's overall design is more of an electric-assisted gas setup in which the gas engine is the primary power source when the car is moving and the electric motor kicks in to assist with accelleration.

    The gas engine in the Prius also is started by the electric propulsion motor, much smoother and more seamless than using a conventional starter motor. The Prius will run on electric-only but mainly at parking lot speeds or low speed cruising. When you take off from a stop, the engine does not start immediately, and may not start at all if your speed stays low enough or if you don't demand too quick of an accelleration. The electric motor in the Prius is, proportionate to vehicle weight, much more powerful than that of the Insight, don't know about the Civic, and the battery pack is of much higher capacity.

    Overall the Prius system is much more sophisticated than that used by Honda, incorporating a cvt transmission specifically designed to let the gas engine run at a constant rpm, vs the conventional 5 speed manual in the Insight (which lately is available as an automatic). It also has "lower gear" selection for use in heavy traffic or on downgrades. In a conventional car one often uses lower gears in traffic or on downgrades to take advantage of engine braking when slowing down. The Low position on the Prius provides the same braking effect, but it's not engine braking. What it does in this mode is increase the amount of battery regeneration when coasting. Whenever one is coasting in this car, the electric motor is switched over to become a generator to recharge the batterys. Using the Low position increases the amount of generation which creates more drag and simulates engine braking.

    Sounds complicated but it all occurs so seamlessly and smoothly that one is pretty unaware of everything that's going on. There's a multifunction LCD touchscreen on the dash that can display audio settings, climate control settings, the optional Nav system, and a fascinating display that instantaneously graphically shows when the car is running on electric, gas, or both, and when power is being sent from batteries to electric motor, or from the "motor turned generator" back to the batteries.

    In addition to the "low" position on the "gearshift" there is regenerative braking--the first retardation that occurs when you press the brake pedal is actually provided by the generator, and only past a certain point do the actual brakes kick in.

    The battery pack is located in a transverse compartment at the front edge of the trunk floor, at the base of the rear seatback. It's a sorta hump about 6 inches high and 6 inches deep. The battery pack can get hot under certain charging conditions, so there is a thermostatically controlled fan on the rear package shelf that sucks air out of the passenger compartment and ducts it to the battery compartment for cooling when necessary. If battery temp gets too high it will even kick on the ac so the air sucked in by the battery cooling fan is cooler--but I've never heard of this actually happening in real use.

    In the unlikely case that the batterys get totally depleted by sustained heavy load driving the car will run on gas-only and a considerable amount of the gas engine's power will be used to again recharge the batteries. Without the electric motor and due to some of the gas engine's power being used to recharge the battery pack, acceleration is reduced, so a warning light in the shape of a turtle will come on to warn the driver.

    The Prius was built and sold in Japan for a couple of years before coming to the US. Toyota found the Japan-market car would go into "turtle mode" on some of our long freeway grades at high speeds. They went back to the drawing board and increased the gas engine size from 1.1 to 1.5 liters, increased the electric motor/generator size and raised the reserve capacity of the battery pack for US models. We have dozens of these in the hands of our customers, and none have ever reported going into turtle-mode.

    An interesting fact is that combined max torque of the engine and electric motor on the Prius is considerably higher than that of the V6 engine available in the Avalon and Camry. This is limited via software to save front tire tread drivetrain components.

    The Prius at first was only available via a complicated internet pre-order procedure and there was a 3 to 4 month wait for delivery. Currently we and most other dealers in our area authorized to sell it (not all Toyota dealers have sent their techs to the special school) have them in stock for immediate delivery, and most are discounting them 1500 or so from list price.
     
  13. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    Wow, what a lot of information there is on this forum! Thanks, guys. It should interesting to see over the years how much of a market share these kind of cars get, re-sale value, etc.
     
  14. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    How many cyclinders do these things have? I can't imagine getting much improvement in gas mileage till they get down to two.
     
  15. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  16. Ashley Seymour

    Ashley Seymour Supporting Actor

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    We are nibbling around the fringes. Get down to two cylinders. Even the heaviest cars can cruise easily with very good gas mileage on less than 4 - 6 - 8 cylinders. Two cylinders don't have sex appeal so Detroit won't produce them.
     
  17. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Do you want to run through Colorado with two cylinders, in a 3000lb vehicle?
    With the progress of tight engine management, the number of cylinders is becoming largely irrelevant. The 6-speed manual Corvettes get over 30mpg on the highway, in a car that weighs 3200lbs, 8cyl 5.7l, and 350hp. They are considering engine management that will shut down cylinders completely for the next-gen Vette, which of course will then trickle down to other models. Look at technologies currently in use, like iVTEC and IMA from Honda, Valvetronics in the new BMW 745, and then combine all these technologies, and one can see that there's lots of room to gain, right here, using "current" design stuff. The current iteration of the automobile is
     
  18. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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  19. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Actually, big bore engines can have problems with flame front travel. Relatively speaking, the flame front must travel farther, reducing the peak cylinder pressure since the burn doesn't happen at once. This is where having too few cylinders can be a problem- Bore will be huge, by necessity, as stroke would be limited by block height (dictated by hood height/ engine compartment size requirements).
    Detroit (and everyone else), for the most part, is staying away from giant bore engines because of this (look at the bore/stroke ratios of today's vs. yesterday's engines). Combustion efficiency increases and brake specific fuel consumption is lower as bore/stroke ratios decrease. That, and combined with the improved torque, and thus driveability, that longer stroke motors provide. To bring this to topic, witness the Civic Hybrid's motor, and its undersquare ratio (bore/stroke
     
  20. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    rotax is owned by bombardier, so that explains the seadoo, skidoo, and some of the aviation engines, they build a lot of small engines for hombuilts and ultralights I know. AFAIK the engine is 100% aprilia designed, but built by rotax, makes sense really, much cheaper, and a very high quality product, look at triumph's attempts to manufacture everything 100% in house, they turned a profit for the first time in like 9 years. A very expensive way to build motorcycles..
     

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