Thursday, December 01, 2005
WSJ Slams Hybrid Cars
Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 06:58:48 AM PDT
Why do conservatives hate conservation? First there was the report commissioned by the US Chamber of Commerce that recommended a special fee on hybrid and alternative-fueled vehicles because they don't use enough gas (Here's the link). Now the Wall Street Journal publishes a fake letter from Toyota slamming the Prius.
Contrary to any loose statements made by our marketing partners in the environmental community and media, petroleum not consumed by Prius owners is not "saved." It does not remain in the ground. It is consumed by someone else. Greenhouse pollutants are released. Also, please note that the warranty and owner's manual say nothing about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. This is not an oversight. The Prius is an "oil-dependent" vehicle. It runs on gasoline, supplied by the same world market that fuels other vehicles.
Now this part might make a bit of sense:
We at Toyota want you to know we recognize this effect and have taken steps to compensate with the rest of our vehicle lineup.
Our 2006 Tundra pickup will be equipped with Toyota's new eight- cylinder engine, making it every bit as much of a gas guzzler as any American pickup. We are also redirecting our efforts to use our Hybrid Synergy Drive to increase power output rather than reduce gasoline consumption.
Take our new hybrid SUV, which produces 38 more horsepower but gets the same mileage as our conventional version. A New York Times reviewer wrote, "One question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no tangible fuel economy benefits?"
It gets stranger and stranger. Try checking the price of a used Prius, if you can find one:
We hope this corrects any misimpression caused by our latest slogan ("Commute with Nature"). Hybrid technology is not "green" technology. Like heated seats or flashy exterior trim, it's merely an expensive option that generates large markups for the Toyota Corporation and its dealers.
You will share our pride in the latest figures from J.D. Power & Associates, which show that the Prius continues to move off a dealer's lot in just eight days, compared to 36 days for a Honda Civic hybrid. Clearly, our customers are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of showing themselves behind the wheel of so conspicuously virtuous a vehicle.
But we are also a far-seeing corporation. We recognize that the Prius's distinctiveness may be a wasting asset for reasons outlined in this letter. Other motorists may see the Prius operator and think "sucker." Our lawyers advise us this may affect your car's resale value. Toyota regrets any inconvenience.
We want you to know that Toyota remains committed to advancing hybrid technology just as long as our customers are willing to make it worth our while. Our esteemed competitor, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, was recently quoted saying, "There's such a buzz today that no CEO of a car manufacturer dares to say his real opinion of hybrid because he's accused of being retarded."
Now before you read this next part you should know that some claim that GM hybrid city buses actually get worse gas mileage than the diesel versions:
Another esteemed competitor, GM, has suggested that hybrid technology is best deployed in city buses, where large fuel consumption and stop-and-go driving might actually make it economically sensible.
Finally we have this, which any 4th-grader with a calculator can disprove:
Let us assure you that the Prius remains one of the most fuel- efficient cars on the road. Toyota applauds your willingness to spend $9,500 over the price of any comparable vehicle for the privilege of saving, at current gasoline prices, approximately $580 a year.
And should the price of gasoline rise to $5, after 10 years and/or 130,000 miles of driving, you might even come close to breaking even on your investment in hybrid technology.
This is all behind the WSJ's pay wall, so I won't bother to link to that sad excuse for a paper.
I hope you won't mind that I end with the same quote I used on Tuesday, but it seems even more applicable here: "The only thing that gives one any conception of the scale of the infinite is the stupidity of some people." From Conquistadors of the Useless by Lionel Terray,