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Hybrids Beware? EPA Revises Mileage Standards 550

Posted by timothy
from the lies-damn-lies-and-downhill-coasters dept.
Shivetya writes "The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a new system for determining the fuel economy of many cars and trucks. Hardest hit will be hybrids as all-electric driving is not considered. At the same time, many medium-duty vehicles will get rated, but not have to be published until 2011 This move to more realistic ratings will severely reduce the high numbers some cars have posted."
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Hybrids Beware? EPA Revises Mileage Standards

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  • Beware of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by localman (111171) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:13PM (#17370132) Homepage
    Look, the reality of milage doesn't change because the EPA changes their testing methodology. Yes, the current EPA numbers are inflated. Sounds like the new ones will be deflated. Regardless, I get a real world 40 MPG out of my Prius and that's better than the real world high 20's, low 30's I got out of my previous cars with similar performance. What's the big deal? Why do so many folks go nutty over proving that hybrids are the greatest thing ever or the stupidest thing ever? All cars have different performance, comfort, efficiency, safety, appearance, and cost metrics. So you choose one you like.

    By the way, I don't hate HUMMER owners.

    Cheers.
  • by seebs (15766) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:19PM (#17370184) Homepage
    This won't affect the Insight at all; it doesn't have an all-electric mode.

    It is, that said, an exceptionally stupid rule; the Prius gets a huge benefit from the all-electric mode, and that ought to be included in the mileage calculations, because it's the bottom line that affects a real user. If your car can do three miles of bumper to bumper traffic with the engine off, instead of burning a quarter gallon of gas idling, you have saved a quarter gallon of gas. That your engine didn't need to be on to achieve this is a feature, not a bug.
  • One-Two Punch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schwit1 (797399) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:20PM (#17370192)
    Having accurate mileage along with recommendations on raising mpg requirements [cnn.com] could be a very cold shower for the US auto industry.

    Getting the US off of the foreign oil tit should be a national security imperative.

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:32PM (#17370318)
    Honestly, this sounds like a ploy from the Big 3 automakers lobby groups and Big Oil to make alternative energy sources look less attractive. And, I don't care how you spin it, a hybrid car should always come out better; if not by government standards then by common sense. Common sense has to win over when you burn less gas because the hybrid car has the electric drive. Leave it to government to pass another non-sense law. We need to end our dependence on oil, period! Not just foriegn oil but all sources of it! This will take a more grass roots campaign as Big Oil and GM only pay lip service to alternative energies. It will take us as consumers to make oil unfavorable. After all, this is a market economy and if no wants oil anymore than Big Oil will need to find something else or go bankrupt. There is little to no insentive for the oil companies to invest in alternative energies. We as the consumer create the incentive. You can pass all the clean air initiatives you want and continue to tout the party line but nothing will change until Americans collectively scream, "We want alternative energy vehicles!" Right now, this is far minority.
  • by 2ms (232331) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:37PM (#17370364)
    Perhaps you haven't stopped to think where that electricity that it is using in all-electric mode comes from -- it comes from converting hydrocarbons into mechanical energy and then mechanical energy into electricity. This is actually a less efficient process than direct conversion of hydrocarbons into mechanical energy, of course. The primary reason hybrids get good mileage in cities is that they are able to shut off engine at idle and that they are able to recoup energy otherwise lost energy through regenerative braking. This is why hybrids do not get as good mileage as diesels outside of city driving.

    Anyway, all-electric mode isn't really a distinction with much practical value -- that electricity was generated in the same ways electricity is in combo mode.
  • by ichimunki (194887) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:42PM (#17370408)
    The test doesn't exclude certain types of mileage from the calculation, it changes the type of driving done to be more like how people actually drive.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:44PM (#17370440) Journal
    Gasoline isn't the majority of what oil is used for.

    In order to get off the "foreign oil tit", as you put it, we'd have to do alternatives for lubricants, plastics, asphalt, jet fuel, diesel oil, heating oil, etc.

    Sure, there are alternatives for may of those (biodiesel, corn-starch plastics, electricity generation fueled by something besides oil, etc), but the alternatives are often more costly (and less efficient) to create than the original... or can be worse for the environment (e.g. coal-fired electrical generation vs. oil-fired). Until oil is expensive enough to make those alternatives more attractive, we're kinda stuck.

    /P

  • Re:GOOD. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bassman59 (519820) <andy@latke . n et> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:48PM (#17370486) Homepage
    One of my compact cars is rated at 140HP. My mini van that weighs at least 1500lbs more is rated at 165HP. My van will blow that car off of the road even while pulling a 1000lb trailer. The peak HP are almost meaningless. Torque is more important for determining real world output and neither alone are as informative as looking at a dyno run sheet would be. Hell, I guess you could skip the dyno chart and include a 60ft, 1/8 mile and 1/4 time with the trap speed.
    As the old saying goes, "Horsepower sells cars; torque wins races."
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @05:52PM (#17370532) Homepage Journal
    Heck, I never thought massive MPGs were really the point of Hybrids. You can get massive MPGs out of tiny compact cars with little lawnmower engines. The point of the Hybrids to me is to get decent MPG while not accelerating like a fat kid on a tricycle and not bogging down when you need to move three of your friends somewhere in stop and go traffic.

    You're not paying extra for a car that gets exceptionally good MPG. You're paying extra for a car with good MPG that doesn't suck to drive.
  • by TClevenger (252206) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:00PM (#17370642)
    The difference is that you have a variety of sources to choose from when "fueling" an electric. Electricity can come from sources as dirty as coal, to sources as clean as wind or solar. (My father will be putting a wind generator on his property this summer, so his fuel source is as clean as can be.) With a gasoline car, you can choose gasoline, or... gasoline.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:04PM (#17370676) Journal
    ...still leaves 48.6% however; something that isn't going to go away anytime soon, y'know? :)

    /P

  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:04PM (#17370678)
    Thats because he doesn't have any stats. This is a tired bloated argument thats thrown around by all the "real" enviromentalists. "Oh yeah! Well, you should just use recycled everything, its net impact is less!". The problem with that nonsensical argument is many fold:

    1. Often times recycling is more, not less, wasteful in the net and gross than building some new. It sure makes you feel like you are doing your part, but when you look how much waste is involved, some things are better off not being recycled.
    2. Cars have to meet both environmental requirements and servicability requirements for users. In every possible sense, the older a vehicle is the less well it will do in both of those cases. Older cars may be cheaper (unless they are highly sought after models, like muscle cars), but you get what you pay for. And older equipment will produce more waste as it breaks down, converters wear out, engines leak oil, new gas additives don't always play nice with older cars (like RFG and leaking fuel systems in older cars, which is a huge fire hazard)
    3. Not everything can be recycled, period.
    4. Recycling *is* an industrial process and just like any industrial process it too requires energy, labor, money and resources, but also produces waste.

  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ucklak (755284) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:23PM (#17370848)
    I think another point of hybrids is for commuters in stop & go traffic. Less wear and tear on the transmission.
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thraxen (455388) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:35PM (#17370928)
    Those are the sort of stats of which I'd like to see more. I'm honestly like to know if buying a new hybrid is actually more harmful than just buying an old used car like the previous poster said. Again, I see people argue that all the time but no one ever produces stats to back that up.

    Either way, people need to keep in mind that alternative engery sources and hybrids are still works in progress. Even if they aren't economically or environmentally more efficient than traditional vehicles, the current crop may be a stepping stone to getting there.
  • by funwithBSD (245349) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:38PM (#17370970)
    Well, you should go take a look at Toyota's own assessment before getting out the conspiracy theories and claiming "common sense":

    http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/k_forum/tenji/pdf/pgr_e .pdf [toyota.co.jp]
    from http://wikicars.org/en/Toyota_Prius [wikicars.org]

    Total energy used to produce the car and run it is only slightly better than an all gas model because initial energy requirements for a similar sized car is MUCH higher, something that goes contrary to "common sense".

    That gets payed back over the years in better gas milage. The wikicar site will show you that in Japan the milage is 71mpg and Germany it is rated at 51mpg.

    No conspiracy , just different methods of measuring MPG.

    My next car will hopefully be a plug in desiel hybrid. They just have to start selling them here! The GM/Opal Astral would be my pick.

    P.S. Use the return key or formatting.
  • by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:43PM (#17371018) Journal
    Actually you have to think of terms of 'gallons per hour' because the AC doesn't care if you are moving or standing still. If I am on the highway doing 70 the AC only gets me for 1mpg, but if I am around town it uses much more.
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shulai (34423) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:45PM (#17371036) Homepage
    The problem of biodiesel and worst, of vegetal oil, is long scale availability. While the concept is good on paper, you barely have enough production in the world to do 5%/10% biodiesel (so, forget any dream about the world running on biomass resources), and at least most of these vegetable production currently feed a lot of people. Bet whatever you want, salads won't be cheaper when bills enforce use of biodiesel in Europe and other countries.
  • by Chas (5144) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @06:58PM (#17371158) Homepage Journal
    Just look at the wonderful job they did deregulating their power systems. ...

    DOH!
  • by Chas (5144) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:01PM (#17371188) Homepage Journal
    saying "I have a bomb" on an airplane.

    They hiss and spit and shun you. Because, as the movies have taught (sorry, wrong word.. CONDITIONED) them, nuclear = bad. PERIOD. All they need to figure out is how to shut down that damn "sun" thingee, and everything'll be right with the world.

    So remember now. Nuclear power makes Baby Jesus cry!
  • Re:Blows my mind (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Namlak (850746) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @07:20PM (#17371402)
    I had a 1978 Dodge Omni that got 36 to 38 mpg when it was out of tune and half dead, it got much better mileage new. I'm not talking EPA I'm talking real world miles. Based on the revised EPA estimates that 30 year old technology would compete with the hybrids. Something is seriously wrong here. For all the R&D they are going backwards.

    Take your Omni and add a ton of safety features (airbags, side-impact beams, and a chassis that performs WAY better at protecting you in a collision).

    And add a bunch of features - power windows, door locks, steering, brakes were not as common in high-mileage vehicles in 1978. You'll have to invent and install ABS and stability control, too. Make the car much quieter, handle better, and ride smoother. Most of these either require power or add weight or both.

    Now reduce the emissions of your Omni by 90% or more. Keep the power the same. No, wait, add 30HP.

    NOW tell me how many miles per gallon you get with your 70's engine tech while matching ALL aspects of modern-car performance.
  • Carpool/HOV lanes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:29PM (#17372104)
    I admit that it bothers me a little that hybrids get a free Carpool/HOV pass.

    I thought the point of HOV lanes was to have fewer cars on the road.
    Allowing hybrids there does not encourage fewer cars out there.

    But, you say, hybrids are really efficient, and the allowances helps fight polution.

    Well, hybrids, by design are the most efficient in stop and go traffics.
    Braking charges the batteries.

    But in the HOV lane, hybrids are slowing less, so using the gas engine more.

  • Re:learn to drive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by leabre (304234) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:36PM (#17372158)
    I started by getting about 40 MPG in my new hybrid (Civic '06). Now, even going through intense mountainous areas, I'm averaging 51-53.5 MPG on 680 Mile tank refills. Even today I started at my house with 50.8 MPG in the dash display and went through some series mountainous terrain for an hour and brought down to 47 MPG but by the time I arrived home I was back to 50.2. I know a few hybrid owners and they mostly take their MPG seriously and only one I know doesn't care and gets about 38 MPG.

    I'll bet your Eclipse doesn't average 50+ MPG no matter how you drive it. Mine can range from 35 with a lead foot and hard braking to 65+ with some serious discipline and appropriate terrain/weather conditions. Coming back from Vegas for 389 miles of driving I averaged 74.8 MPG (but the trip is mostly downhill). I'm mostly highway driving (95%). City driving can be a nuissance. If I do a lot I'll average about 45-48 MPG. But, now I plan all my errands for the week in such ways I can do it all at once, I know where the "efficient" roads are to travel for the best FE around my regular communte and a few other less frequent places. Don't drive during lunch and so on. Depending on the wind, I have 3 different commute options so there's a 75% chance I can get in a direction for at least half the trip where the wind pushes me.

    On two occasions for 11-13 miles I have achieved 104 MPG but its not something that I can regularize. On the same tanks, I might start with 104 MPG but I'll end with about 53 MPG or so.

    In all, the Civic hybrid is a robust car and quite capable of performing as advertised.

    Thanks,
    Leabre
  • Yes there is and it is called "forced induction"(turbo|supercharger|both).
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lucifuge31337 (529072) <daryl@@@introspect...net> on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @08:55PM (#17372316) Homepage
    Why are hybrid owners the subject of such ridicule.

    Because the most vocal group of hybrid owners are agenda-pushing, "I'm better than you because I'm hugging trees" (based on what the media tells me, but I don't really know the facts), starbucks-moca-frappa-apple-cina-chino-at-$6-a-pop -drinking, ipod carrying, morons. If you don't like the categorization, get out of the category by choosing a different car. If you don't like that answer, you'll need to learn how to come to grips with the simple facts: car ownership in this country has somehow become intertwined with people's first impression of you. I don't support it, but I also don't stick my head in the sand and pretend its not reality.
  • by heroine (1220) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @09:13PM (#17372464) Homepage
    With the number of suckers paying insane amounts of money just to save $1 on gas, we'd probably be better off with a total cost of ownership measurement.

  • Now we know (Score:2, Insightful)

    by misterhypno (978442) on Tuesday December 26, 2006 @10:12PM (#17372846)
    where all of those accountants from Enron wound up!

    The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a new system for determining the fuel economy of many cars and trucks. Hardest hit will be hybrids as all-electric driving is not considered. At the same time, many medium-duty vehicles will get rated, but not have to be published until 2011 This move to more realistic ratings will severely reduce the high numbers some cars have posted.
    Not rating all electric driving is like NOT counting people who have no jobs but can no longer draw unemployment compensation as being unemployed! Oh. Wait! We already DO that, too! Ronald Reagan started THAT! "If a person doesn't draw unemployment, they are not unemployed and do not count as BEING unemployed." - Ronald Reagan administration edict for the "new" metod of "counting" the unemployed for the federal unemployment figures.

    Enron-style accounting lives and flourishes at the Departments of Labor AND at the EPA!

    Why am I not surprised?
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mike2R (721965) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @12:04AM (#17373492)
    If cars and pedestrians drive you to bold typeface I'm guessing you have not encountered the bicycle in any great quantities. If you ever play tourist in my home town of Cambridge (UK) I strongly suggest you take the bus.

    I've given up wondering why so many people seem to simply not care whether they live or die, and keep all my attention on not killing them.
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @01:16AM (#17373838) Homepage Journal
    We are not talking about hondas or toyotas that get 50 mpg. Every car I have ever owned has gotten around 30 mpg, so it is not technologically difficult to get 40mpg, if one pays for design and materials.

    What the new rules are designed to do, and what the American car manufacturers is upset about, is to close a loophole that allows the American manufacturers to ignore minimum standards in the fuel consumption of the fleet. This is not an evil plot by the government, this is something that the government was forced to enact due to the repeated failure of the manufacturers to obey the spirit of the law.

    Two examples. Cars had certain requirements to help protect our environment, but trucks necessarily did not. The manufactures created this loop hole by saying the farmers and small business could not afford the extra equipment and such equipment was not necessary if rural areas. The congress agreed. In response to this loophole the manufacturers started pushing the SUV because they did not have to put as much technology in it, and therefore the cost to produce was often cheaper. Then, due to certain vagaries in the tax law, they realized the could push really huge SUV and trucks, as the cost after tax deduction can actually be cheaper than smaller, better built, more fuel efficient vehicle. Such things forces responsible manufacturer, like subaru, to end up a competitive disadvantage when they build cars that won't kill the family of four in the Honda Cvcc.

    Which brings us to today. The fuel consumption estimates for hybrids is a jake, and allows manufacturers to seriously underestimate the average fuel consumption for of their fleet. For example, for can use the wildly overestimated fuel consumption on the Hybrid escape to compensate for the fuel consumption on the Expedition, which, even though fuel saving technology increases every year, the fuel consumption does not get better. With the old rules this basically evened out, and the overall fuel consumption remained constant. However, with the new rules they are in trouble. Ford wants to blame the company trouble on health care of the line workers, but I bet it is more an issue of using funds for executive pay rather than R&D. Why else were they so afraid of disclosing executive pay, and why else would they be so happy that the SEC rescinded the requirement to fully disclose compensation. And the fact that the order came the day before christmas was even more interesting.

    Which leads to today.

  • by toddestan (632714) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @01:33AM (#17373912)
    If I remember right, they didn't even use the same SUV for the AC and the windows down tests - they used two different SUVs (same model) with different drivers. Differences in the tire pressures of the two trucks could have easily accounted for the difference. Mythbusters proved nothing with that test.
  • Re:Beware of what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Wednesday December 27, 2006 @02:54AM (#17374210) Homepage

    As a pedestrian, when trying to cross the road, I put some effort into looking like I'm completely oblivious to the cars in the road and just walking into the road like an idiot trying to get myself killed. This works way better at getting them to stop and let me cross than stopping and staring at them does. I do make sure that if the cars don't stop for me I'm not actually going to be in the way, but watching a car out of the corner of my eye while blatantly looking the other way and walking towards the road works wonders to getting them to stop.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."

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