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May 20th, 2002

Hybrids Ahoy!

A few years ago, Honda came out with the Insight: a hybrid vehicle that got stellar gas mileage, good reviews, and sat a whopping two people. The car itself looked a little funky, but owners enjoyed them. Shortly after the Insight, Toyota released the Prius. The Prius was the first hybrid car that caught my attention, because although it too looks a little funky, it seats 4 people, has a real stereo and A/C system, and feels like a “normal” car inside. Both cars sell for around $21,000 new.

Then, Honda came back with the 2003 Civic Hybrid. I sat in one at the Chicago Auto Show and had no idea I was in a hybrid at all. The badging and hybrid-ness of the car? Minimal. Unless people know their Honda grilles, they won’t know it’s running on half gas and half electricity. It’s a comfortable car, too – it feels like a traditional Civic inside. The amenities are pure Honda – simple, easy-to-reach controls, nice looking interior, good legroom, and so on. Only you will know that it gets 46mpg on the highway and 51 in the city.

Given that not everyone can totally give up their cars, I applaud Honda and Toyota for at least offering a better alternative. All three of these vehicles are incredibly low on emissions, high on mileage, and reasonable on price – all are in the low $20s. While not everyone can afford that today, it’s smack dab in the “average price” range for new cars in America. As the technology gets cheaper and better, hybrids will gently usher in the idea that moving to alternative fuel sources doesn’t have to hurt, or signify that people are any less “American”.

Posted in Cars

FROM: corey [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday May 20, 2002 -- 12:04:02 pm
i thought that the civic hybrid was what they should have done from the start... give people a chance to get used to the idea on an existing model rather than scare them away with a 2 seater techomobile and fender skirts.

if everyone would just come to me for advice, things would go a lot smoother...

FROM: Matt
DATE: Monday May 20, 2002 -- 12:23:29 pm
I think I would consider getting the Civic Hybrid. I also sat in that at the DC Auto Show. It's a comfy regular size car with all the environmental advantages.

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday May 20, 2002 -- 1:33:31 pm
I wonder where we'd be today if the Big Automakers & Oil Companies hadn't crushed that guy that invented the engine that ran on water ;) I read it on the Internet, so it must be true!

Actually, having seen Tucker the movie - I wouldn't be surprised by anything the big auto companies did to maintain their market position.

FROM: Matt
DATE: Monday May 20, 2002 -- 1:43:08 pm
Yes that movie showed what a Mother Tucker he was.

FROM: jim
DATE: Thursday May 23, 2002 -- 1:01:32 am
VW makes the TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) diesel in several different models under $20,000. Mileage for the 5 speed is 42/49. It has gobs and gobs of torque at about 1900 rpm. Most important, it is fun to drive.

check it out at


FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Thursday May 23, 2002 -- 8:17:14 am
Is diesel still a dirty fuel, jim, or is it cleaner now than in years past?

DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 1:33:47 am
Paul, diesel is cleaner now and diesel engine technology has advanced tremendously in the last 20 years. A diesel engine is also capable of burning biodiesel fuel, a renewable energy source.

There is one forum at devoted entirely to emissions.


FROM: Marcus Mackey
DATE: Friday May 24, 2002 -- 9:45:33 am
Paul, Autoweek had an article on this about a year or so ago (I subscribe) and their explanation is that in Europe, diesel engines are all the rage because of a) biodiesel fuel is plentiful and cheap there, far cheaper than petrol at least, and b) you get greater mileage with diesel than gasoline/petrol and there's more stations everywhere that carry both.

America's quality of diesel isn't rated as up to par with the best of Europe (according to the article), yet we also have cheaper gasoline prices and fewer stations. There's also that whole "Diesel is Dirty" misnomer and the wonderfully clanky/cluttering Oldsmobile wagons with the gasoline-converted-diesel GM V8's which gave diesel a bad reputation in American cars.

I do believe I'd read that more and more were looking into diesel cars for their purchases, based on the success of the Volkswagen TDI models and a resurgence in Mercedes Diesel sales. Just can't remember exactly where it was that I read it. Yet, the dilemma is, when the only American cars sold are in a higher pricepoint than the rest of the competition. It's harder to sell people on Diesel when your choices are Volkswagen (reasonable), Mercedes (upper middle class range or lower upper class), or light or heavy-duty trucks. Granted, the image of a Cummins Turbodiesel equipped Ram dually doesn't typically conjure up the whole warm and fuzzy greenpeace movement either. :-\

Me-thinks me go with a Honda ULEV/ZLEV or Hybrid in that regard, although I really have my heart set on that Subaru Impreza WRX. Might not be as good as the others in emissions or mileage, but 227 bhp, a 2.0 Liter Turbo Flat-4 (Boxer), and AWD sounds like a ton of fun snow, rain, or shine in Chitown. Either that or maybe the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution when they bring it here in early 2003. A little more pricy, little bit more raucous, but still a sweet little car. :-)

DATE: Tuesday October 8, 2002 -- 3:37:35 pm
Hello all,
I am looking forward to getting my own Civic Hybrid, hopefully in Spring 2003. I love the hybrid technology, the Civic Hybrid amenities, and am very excited by the prospect of having my very own.

On that note, I'd be interested in customizing my hybrid to make it distinctive and sporty as well as crazily fuel-efficient.

Thus, I am wondering if anyone here may know where/how/who to recommend to do this for me and my hybrid-to-be. If so, I would greatly appreciate a simple reply on this message board.

Thanks much,

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday October 8, 2002 -- 5:19:25 pm
If so, I would greatly appreciate a simple reply on this message board.


DATE: Tuesday October 8, 2002 -- 6:01:22 pm
So do you have any ideas, Paul, or just critique??

FROM: Paul [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday October 8, 2002 -- 7:01:53 pm
No, just critique. I'm going to make some new doors for this BBS now.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday October 9, 2002 -- 12:43:45 am
Make sure you get the good doors, Paul. You know, WWIV!

FROM: Logic 3:16
DATE: Sunday October 13, 2002 -- 12:12:19 am
Bah! Wait a decade or so for the technology to become cheaper and better-tested before buying any of these newfangled hybrid contraptions. The main batteries cost up to $3,000 to replace. It's cheaper in the long run to buy technology that's been proven to be reliable, than getting a car that claims great gas mileage, but may come with high repair bills. And don't buy into that environmentalist crap - gasoline powered cars today are so tightly engineered and have so many EPA-mandated emissions control devices on them, they put out a small fraction of the pollution produced by cars made only 15 years ago. Frankly, I'm sick to death of the flimsy little plastic go-carts and the stupid SUV's auto makers have been coming out with in recent years - give me a nice old REAL American car from the '60's or '70s any day, the bigger the better!

FROM: Chris
DATE: Monday December 2, 2002 -- 5:28:41 pm
I just bought a 2003 Civic Hybrid last week. Granted, I'm only a week into it; but I'm way impressed. It kept up on the freeways of Atlanta without any problem, got the advertised 47 mpg on the highway home, and drives/feels/looks like a normal car.

Assuming the thing doesn't just fall to pieces over the coming years, I'd say there's no reason to wait on the technology. For that matter, I don't like the argument that we should all wait to buy one until they're better than anything we currently have; if we don't buy them, they won't improve them.

FROM: D. SKye Hodges
DATE: Monday February 3, 2003 -- 12:31:37 pm
Just bought my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. Driving 43 miles from Salt Lake to Provo and 43 miles back Monday-Thursday, currently averaging 50.3 mpg. You HAVE to set the cruise to 65-66 mph, but when you are driving a car that is as amazing as this you don't mind watching the gas guzzling SUVs motor past as you sit back and feel that you are doing your part helping reduce America's dependance on foreign oil. I LOVE my Gina!! (yes, my civic has a name). This car is LITERALLY like riding on a flying carpet it is so smooth. Whether you buy a Honda, or a Toyota Prius, or a VW, whatever you do... Just do your part! Reduce your speed for better fuel economy, and stop buying cars that get 13-30 mpg!

Hjalmar Hautela March 31, 2007, 11:45 pm

The New York City Taxi and Limo Commission just approved the use of hybrids for taxis. Any hybrid with four doors is ok. Imagine paying NY taxi rates and riding in a hybrid Civic. The commish issued permits just for hybrids at a slight discount. Every time they put on something besides the Checker/Impala/big Dodge/Crown Vic the cars last only a short while. For awhile the Honda minivan was everywhere and now nobody has them. Worse were the French diesel sedans which put the cab companies in Philadelphia into bankruptcy. I have driven the Honda Civic with the basic gas engine and hated it after just a block. I normally drive a Merc GM and love the reliability and ride. I get 25 mph but I fill it with people and luggage so I use the same amount of fuel to move stuff as a hybrid. Best thing would be to get the huge suv’s off the road. My car has traction control and does not get stuck in snow. Just get traction control.

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