Hybrids — mileage performers?

As reported in Green Car Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency reporting on the new fuel mileage standards enables analysis of where hybrids fall out. Much press reporting has discussed how the hybrids aren’t performing as ‘claimed’, using the new standards as a way to attach hybrids’ gas mileage as falling without examining the relative changes.  As per GCG, while there has been some dropping off in hybrids’ relative improvement compared to a non-hybrid variant, that fall in relative improvement is minor. (With the Honda Civic showing the greatest relative drop, remaining above 40%.)

As GHG notes,

Compared to today’s estimates, the city mpg estimates for the manufacturers of most vehicles will drop by about 12% on average, and by as much as 30% for some vehicles. The highway mpg estimates will drop on average by about 8%, and by as much as 25% for some vehicles.

Although the fuel economy estimates for hybrids drop along will those for all vehicles, hybrids appear to retain the majority of their fuel economy advantage compared to their conventional counterpartsmileage comparison


Now, there are many things to note in this graph — including the oddity of the Prius standing out, since there is no ‘normal’ variant of this most popular of hybrid cars.

But, there is a critical point to this graph that could pass by most people or could get a little attention.

This shows the huge difference that choices relative to hybrid type and performance can make.  Note that the Vue hybrid provides about a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy … and the Honda Civic Hybrid (even after its massive drop in relative fuel efficiency) over 40%.  This has to do with the type of hybrid along with manufacturer choices.

Robert Uhrig has provided one of the best explanations (warning pdf) of hybrid technology choices and their implicatons.  According to Uhrig,

“Today, four general types of hybrids are commonly recognized: 1) micro hybrids (sometimes called start-stop hybrids), 2) mild hybrids, 3) full hybrids, and 4) plug-in hybrids.” In terms of gas mileage, “gasoline mileage increases are … typically 40%-45% more for full-hybrids, 20%-25% more for mild-hybrids, and 10% for micro-hybrids, the differences are not sufficient to have a dramatic impact on the national consumption of hydrocarbon fuels.”

How many Americans realize that all Hybrids are not made equal? One has to wonder how many legislators, who simply give tax and other benefits to “hybrids” realize this?

How much sense does it for the taxpayer to subsidize micro-hybrid SUVs that are getting under 20 miles per gallon?


One response to “Hybrids — mileage performers?

  1. In warm weather, with judicious throttle control to keep RPMs between 1k and 2k and careful route selection, I can average nearly 31mpg in my 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid, with all-city driving. In the summer I drive al fresco under 45 mph unless I have passengers, the AC kills my mileage. In the winter, the computer-controlled gasoline engine won’t stop running until it achieves a specified heat level, so my mileage drops.

    I never believed EPA stickers anyway. Compared to the 2001 V6-powered Toyota Avalon I was driving, I fill up about half as often, on a smaller tank. Works for me.

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