[Oeva-list] As for so-called hybrid vehicles, the more electric, the better

Gary Graunke gary at whitecape.org
Sat Aug 13 11:32:42 PDT 2005

I think this discussion could be useful for honing our messages for next 
Saturday. It's always difficult to bring clarity to a situation where so 
many commercial interests are sowing confusion. I agree that we need to 
clarify the misconceptions, but I believe that having hybrids and EV's 
side by side is helpful for the comparison.

First of all, for those that do not know, let me note that in my family 
we have 2 EV's (one of which is an ex-hybrid), and two hybrids:  a 
from-scratch EV US Electricar S10 pickup, a converted Honda Insight, a 
Toyota Prius (2002, not the new one), and a Honda Civic hybrid.

Right off the top, Ralph is right--our "it's not electric if you can't 
plug it in" is a concise way to point out that these are still gasoline 
vehicles and we don't have the choice to power them from electricity.
Let's point folks to the EAA PHEV effort to turn the new Prius into a 
true dual fuel vehicle that can use only electricity for 90% of the 
trips that people drive.

We need to also refer people to www.dontcrush.org for a current state of 
the extinction of EV's made by automakers for California. We need to 
talk about these vehicles--most people don't even know they ever 
existed. (I rented an EV1 for a week and drove it 100 miles from LA to 
UC Santa Barbara. I also rented a Honda EV-plus three times in 
Sacramento.) I have slides we can blow up. People need to understand 
that the reason automakers hate EV's is that they don't need all the 
maintainance of regular cars--just batteries, tires, and to a lesser 
extent brakes. They don't make money selling cars (except 
Honda/Toyota)--they make money selling parts and service. So the reason 
they don't like to make EV's is not because they don't work (before the 
gas car, there were steam and electric cars), or because, as they insist 
in spite of evidence to the contrary, that no one wants them.

So this event is our chance to clarify that situation. However, I find 
it more effective to be positive:  the hybrid cars are way better than 
gas cars (just look at the mpg and pollution), but the more electric it 
is the better the efficiency, and the less it pollutes. One needs to 
look at the mpg numbers and pollution rating to see who is doing a good 
job, and who is just jumping on the hybrid bandwagon.

Recall that the automakers insisted (despite waiting lists) that no want 
wanted electric cars. They cannot say that about the Toyota Prius!

The best thing about the Prius is that it *does* run in electric-only 
mode (yes, yes, even if the electricity is a by-product of regen 
braking). It *does* give people the quiet, non-polluting EV feeling, if 
only at low speeds after the engine is warmed up. It is so close, that 
we have to give them some credit. It can be the basis for the EAA PHEV 
efforts! Consider this--millions of people that buy an aftermarket PHEV 
kit for their Prius, perhaps after the warranty expires. It would be 

Honda hybrids always use the engine whenever moving. They do use regen 
braking, and stop the engine when stopped (GM would like only this last 
feature to define a "hybrid"). But look at the numbers--the 2000 Insight 
is in the Guiness record book at 103 miles/Imperial gallon. (Insight 
folks have done 1500+ miles on the 11 gallon tank, and 1000 miles is not 
at all unusual). The Civic hybrid is 47 mpg vs 30 for the regular 
version. If everyone drove Prius, Insight, or Civic hybrids the smog 
would disappear and we would not have to import oil!  This is an easy 
step anyone can take--there are no excuses!

So let's get people to focus on the numbers:
A gallon of gas == 33 KWH of electricity (or 12 KWH, if you burn the gas 
to generate electricity. However, we have not used oil to generate 
electricity since the 70's with the Iran hostage event). (I'll try to 
find the DOE document to quote).

My Honda Insight, for example, gets 6-8 miles / KWH. So that's 200-266 
mpg energy equivalent.

The Honda Insight at 92 mpg is doing a pretty good job of converting 
gasoline to motion, since at 12 KWH/gallon, I would only get 72-96 mpg. 
My lifetime average was 52 mpg before I took it apart...

I tell people considering hybrid SUV's two things:
1) An SUV is like going backwards 2X due to weight and bad aerodynamics, 
being hybrid only gets you 1.5X back.
2) How long do you plan on owning your vehicle? Gas prices now may not 
justify extra cost of hybrid, but consider the prices of gas (noting 
peaking global oil production and increasing foreign demand) at the end 
of the (say) 10 years.

IMHO, Honda builds the best gas engines, but Toyota is the leader in 

Look at the numbers:  the more electric (Prius), the more efficient and 
the less pollution. EV's are the perfect car for 90% of driving with 250 
mpg effciency and zero pollution. An EV towing the gas part as a trailer 
(pusher or generator) on long trips is even better.  Make it common-rail 
biodiesel, and you now have the optimal car using century-old 
technology. The proof of pudding--diesel-electric locomotives that have 
been around forever! These are not golf-carts, folks!

I tried to convey this concisely in our press release:  “Even amateurs 
can build economical, freeway-capable, zero-pollution, 
renewable-energy-powered vehicles for everyday commuting use using 
century-old technology.  For longer range driving, hybrid vehicles 
offered by leading auto manufacturers offer an easy, immediate 
adjustment to the new era of permanently declining global oil production. ”

So let's take advantage of the hybrid bandwagon, but come from a 
position of knowledge on both electric and hybrid technologies to enable 
us to expose the marketing hype and disinformation. Let's keep people 
focused on what can be (and needs to be) done, and help with the 
dontcrush.org message. We have made a difference (Ford is an example vs 
GM), so let's continue to build demand for pure EV's, or at least dual 
fuel (electricity as a choice) vehicles.

So let's continue to honor pure EV's as the focus of our organization. 
We can still give some hybrid vehicles honorable mention (and some less 
than honorable mention) as deserved.

We should, as I mentioned at the meeting, reconsider whether we want to 
stick with public interest, non-profit groups for next year's event. I 
blew it this year, but we need to have this discussion.  We may be able 
to find other groups to support our message of EV's powered by renewable 
energy that actually do not sell anything. On the other hand, we may 
decide that we need to point people to reputable EV vendors and other 
commercial interests!

In the meantime, please feel free to bring handouts and posters to 
convey our messages to the public at this event.


US Electricar S10
pure electric Honda Insight ("permanently out-of-gas!")
#26 on the list for commutercars.com T100.

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