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The following is an article written by Richard Truitt of Automotive News. I have responded to his inability to grasp the remarkable appeal and advantages of our Prius. You can contact him at [email protected] with a cc to Keith Crain [email protected], These are really good people but have somehow missed the point.

COMMENT: Civic Hybrid and Prius are overrated

By Richard Truett, Automotive News
May 19, 2004 9:46 AM

Engineers have done a masterful job with the gasoline-electric Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius. Those cars are technical marvels, probably the most advanced and complex production cars ever made.
Each companys public-relations department has whipped up a media frenzy for what is, frankly, a complex and expensive way to squeeze a few more miles out of a gallon of gasoline.
Honda and Toyota PR types obviously know that the mainstream press and even some automotive reporters (who may be great business writers but who arent technically savvy) wouldnt look much further than the EPAs mpg ratings for the Civic Hybrid and Prius.
Automotive News tested both cars extensively for about three weeks and learned what many disappointed Civic Hybrid and Prius owners are finding out: Neither car lives up to its promise or consistently achieves fuel economy near its EPA rating.
Not many vehicles match their EPA ratings exactly, but they usually arent off by more than 10 percent. The fuel economy for the Civic Hybrid and Prius was all over the map.
The EPA needs a testing procedure specifically for gasoline-electric hybrids that provides a realistic measurement of the fuel economy. And Honda and Toyota must do a better job of telling customers that they most likely won't get anywhere near the EPA ratings.
Mpg isnt spectacular
One Automotive News driver commuted 200 miles a day on interstate highways. Several other drivers used the cars in stop-and-go city traffic.
So how did our test cars perform?
Both cars did OK in keeping up with traffic. You wouldnt call the acceleration sporty, but the cars proved capable.
The Prius is clearly the better car. The styling is terrific; the utility is excellent. As always, Toyotas quality is superb. The Prius is solid and tight and Lexus-like quiet. Because it can run on only the electric motor, its more fun to drive.
The Civic Hybrid also has some nice touches, including the cool blue electronic instruments and a nicely designed interior. It is EPA-rated at 46 mpg city/ 51 highway. Our test car delivered about 37.6 mpg in city driving and about 44 mpg on the highway.
The Prius has an EPA rating of 60 mpg city/51 highway. One staff member drove the Prius 331 miles in combined city-highway driving and got just 39.8 mpg. Most other drivers recorded 44 mpg to 48 mpg in city driving and about 40 mpg on the highway.
Those are not breakthrough, real-world fuel-economy milestones. Several other cars that are less complex technically -- new and old -- can equal or surpass those figures and achieve real-world fuel economy that is much closer to their EPA ratings. The 1988 Honda Civic CRX HF, for example, got close to its EPA ratings of 50 mpg city and 56 mpg highway.
Id go with diesel
I have long said that if you just want to go far on a gallon of something, diesel makes the most sense. Many compact European diesel cars, such as the Ford Focus and Peugeot 307, get better fuel economy than the Civic Hybrid and Prius.
Id rather get an honest 50 mpg with a diesel car and not have to worry about burning out battery packs or having a car with an engine and a motor.
Tailpipe emissions are another supposed reason why hybrids are good for us. Well, the Civic Hybrid and Prius are not too special in that regard, either.
The regular production Ford Focus with the 2.3-liter engine, which is rated as a partial zero emissions vehicle, can match both hybrids in tailpipe emissions.
Hybrid trucks make sense
Heres the bottom line: The Civic Hybrid and Prius are overrated. I'm not saying that gasoline-electric technology has no place. It does.
Hybrid cars, as they are configured today, work best in Japan, where diesel is all but banished and where heavy traffic and long periods of idling make the best use of gasoline-electric technology.
I agree with General Motors reasoning: For vehicles sold in the United States, hybrid technology makes the most sense in the biggest, gas-guzzling SUVs and other trucks.
The only GM hybrids on the road are a few hundred gasoline-electric pickups for fleets. GM is producing hybrid power trains for city buses, but they arent as sexy as the Civic Hybrid and Prius, so they don't get much attention from the mainstream press.
Too bad GM CEO Rick Wagoners dictum that GM will be a fast and lean company hasn't resulted in hybrid power trains for Cadillac Escalades, GMC Yukons and Hummer H2s.
Richard Truett is an Automotive News staff reporter. You can e-mail him at [email protected]

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Truitt is missing the point of hybrids.

That is, not only are hybrids more efficient but the amount of pollution that the vehicles emit are way less than, say a Jetta TDI (diesel) which also gets 45 MPG.

As we (those that inhabit plant Earth) approach the end of cheap oil and witness the war to control the last largest reserve of, we will all witness the sea level raise do to global warming. Truitt has his head buried in the sand if he thinks that responsible companies such as Honda & Toyota PR depts. have whipped up media frenzy for what is, frankly, a complex and expensive way to squeeze a few more miles out of a gallon of gasoline.

The question is how to get Truitt & people that think like him to open their eyes to realize what our children will inherit from us.

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jimvt said:
The question is how to get Truitt & people that think like him to open their eyes to realize what our children will inherit from us.
There is a fundamental rift between people who believe that human activity can affect the environment (for good or for ill) and that we have a moral responsibility to behave in a way that leaves the earth still inhabitable, and those who believe that the earth will take care of itself, or that future generations will solve their own problems with technology not yet invented.

I think it was Chief Seattle who said, "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children."

But folks like The Shrub believe (perhaps with all sincerity) that god made the Earth for us to use, and will take care of future generations one way or another, or (in the extreme case) that, in the words of the song: "I believe my Savior is coming in all haste / and everything we haven't used will then have gone to waste."

And a lot of folks simply don't care. ("Apres moi, le deluge." -- After I'm gone, let The Flood come!)

I'm not sure you can "convince" anybody. It would be nice, though, to have a viable green party. I don't believe Kerry would be much more than 5% better than The Shrub in terms of support for renewable energy and pollution control.

But again, it's not a question of "opening their eyes." It's a question of a 180-degree shift in their perspective on the environment, and convincing them to change their lifestyle for the benefit of their great-grandchildren yet unborn.

And how about our own lifestyle? We are driving the cleanest and nearly the most efficient car on the road, but are we willing to change our own lifestyle so that we do not need to drive cars at all? This log is in our own eye too.

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Exactly. People always fixate on gas mileage and ignore the emissions. Not surprising considering most people cannot think outside themselves and could care less about anyone else or the environment.

Secondly, I dont know what kind of driving these jokesters are doing to get such mpg. Been consistently getting over 50 since I got mine two months ago, and as the weather has gotten warmer more like 55.
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