Hybrid Car Update

I drive a Honda Insight, a hybrid vehicle.  I thought readers might find it useful to know what it has cost me over the past 5.5 years.  Hybrid vehicles run on gas and electric, with dramtically improved fuel efficiency.
I bought it new, and I bought it because we need to send an economic signal to manufacturers to make the right products.  And because I needed a new car.  It cost about $30,000, including taxes, delivery, and everything.  It replaced a 4X4 Ford pick up truck that was falling apart.

It has gone 240,000 km so far (150,000 miles) so far.  It has averaged 4.1 l/100 km.  That means I have used 9840 litres of gasoline, or about 246 tankfulls.  That works out to almost a tank a week.

Many people say that it is a good “about town car”.  But I have driven it to Toronto, to North Carolina, to Montreal, Windsor, Ottawa, and Wiarton.  It’s fine on the highway.  I have no difficulty keeping up with traffic on the 401.

It has been cheap to maintain.  It has had the front tires replaced 3 times, to give better traction in the snow.    Interestingly, I have been stuck in the snow less than I ever was in the 4X4 truck.  Why?  Because when you have a 4X4 you think you can get through stuff that you can’t.  You feel like a teenager – invincible.  With a small front wheel drive vehicle, you know your limitations.  And if you do get stuck, the car weighs 1800 lbs, including batteries, so it is easy to push out.

I had my first brake job last week, which is quite remarkable.  The car has regenerative braking, where the electric motor becomes a generator, when you apply the brakes, and the energy is injected into the batteries.  So the brake pads don’t have to work very hard.
In total, maintenance has been about $5000, including oil changes, wiper blades, brakes, tires.  The oxygen sensor needed replacement, and the latch on the hatch failed.

Insurance has been about $6600.  Gas, at $.90/l average, has been about $9000.

So the total cost is about $50,000 over 5 1/2 years, and 240,000 km, excluding financing.  That works out to $.21/km.  And of course that presumes the car has no value today.  It clearly has some value – it is a working automobile, that I intend to drive for awhile longer.  The car has a lot of aluminum and plastic in it to reduce weight.  But it also reduces rust – the car is rust free – except for the licence plates.
That is more km than any vehicle I have owned.  And the car is still going strong.  It has never failed to start.

Supposedly the average car goes for about 250,000 km.  So I should be looking for a new vehicle.  And I am, but it isn’t shipping yet.

There has been a lot of talk about plug in hybrids.  If my current car will last, I will wait for one of those.  The theory of a plug in hybrid is that you can put a recharger station at your home, and plug in when you arrive at home, and recharge the batteries from the electric grid.  The batteries might take you perhaps 15 km, before you have to start using gas.  But of course the vast majority of trips are short, so this would allow electricty to replace gasoline as your source of energy for at least some of your requirements.  Electric motors are far more efficient than internal combustion engines, and electricity is far less costly than gasoline.

And you can get electricity from non-emitting sources.  In fact I have a connection with someone who supplies this.

Don’t fear hybrid technology.  It works, and may reduce operating cost in a sizable way.  And bring on the plug in hybrids.  This buyer is waiting.

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