Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hybrid cars - a collection of notes

I neither care too much nor know much about car engineering, but I do care about the financial and environmental costs of using gas and producing emission. Hybrid cars are becoming so popular nowadays that I feel left out not having one! My Honda Civic is too new so it doesn't make sense financially for me to trade it in yet, but I'm kinda obsessed with learning about the eventuality of upgrading... Some of these will not apply by the time I upgrade (say in 2-3 years), but then, perhaps the economics of owning a hybrid will still make sense in other ways.

Today, hybrid owners get to...

  1. Use of HOV lane (e.g. the California DMV used to issue special HOV stickers for SULEV, ILEV and hybrid vehicles. The 85K permits set by a regulation have run out so no such luck for new cars). These stickers, being the precious commodity they are, have become the target of enterprising thieves
  2. Claim tax credits to make up for the higher prices of hybrids. These get phased out a year after a manufacturer sells >60K qualified hybrid cars.
  3. Save on gas - hybrids can get 40-60+ mpg. Check out this cool mileage calculator. Upgrading a Honda Civic (with ULEV II ratings) to a Honda Civic Hybrid (with PZEV ratings) results in the following improvements:
  • 16 mpg increase (that's $344/year savings at $3/gallon for 12K miles per year)
  • 2174 lbs CO2 less emitted (greenhouse gas)
  • 53 lbs CO less emitted (poisonous gas)
  • 2 lbs NO less emitted (lung irritant and smog)
  • It doesn't reduce soot, and increases hydrocarbons production slightly (2lbs) - not sure why...

Apparently there are even ways to fine-tune your hybrid gas mileage - here are some tips for Honda Civic hybrids.

* Some regulatory-based incentives (2,3 above) are starting to run out, having achieved their goals of promoting adoption of a new technology.

I am really curious to find out what out incentive programs are out there, and what the situation is like outside the U.S.

-Marn Yee

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