I read an interesting dilemma with the price of the Chevy Volt. http://gm-volt.com/2008/04/28/how-much-will-the-chevy-volt-cost/
I bought GM stock because they would be putting out the Volt, but lost my investment when GM went Chapter 11. So on principle, I would not buy a Volt, now. I may buy one in three years.
It's an easy answer for me because I cannot afford to spend 40K on a car. Would I buy a Nissan Leaf? It costs quite a bit less. But it doesn't have the option of gas, so no long trips. At this point, a hybrid or a TDI seems to be the best bet if you are big on saving gas money. You know the new Mustang has a V6 and still gets I think 32 mpg...
Where's the beef? The question assumes that we know something about the Chevy Volt's impact on the environment. We don't. I have not seen a life cycle analysis of this vehicle, the materials used to maintain it, or its fuel. Like so many Hybrid car owners, most assume that the Chevy Volt is a "greener" car than all of those internal combustion cars sold over the last 40 years. This may not be so. Early Hybrid owners are now finding out that the lead acid batteries used in their vehicles need to be replaced. The used lead from lead acid batteries have to go someplace. Where does all that toxic lead go? Assuming that Hybrid car batteries are perfectly recycled (no lead gets into the environment) - they are not - how does Hybrid fuel economy compare to say a 1995 Honda Civic VX (45 city / 65 hwy). Hmmm, not so good. My 15 year old 1995 Honda Civic VX still gets 48 mpg everywhere and it has only needed a single lead acid battery replaced in those 15 years. Most people purchasing a product touted to be "green" actually have no idea what impact their purchase has on the environment. Sadly, they blindly follow the words of environmentalists with little to no training in environmental sciences and so called "green" marketing campaigns designed to take advantage of our desire to be good stewards of our environment. Where's the beef?
Based on thew new MPG ratings, your 95 civic got 39/50. That's still obviously great. My first car was a 85 VW Jetta TD and I regularly got 40+, although the new ratings only give it 31/41. Compare that to my 99 Camry which is only 18/26 yet isn't really any bigger inside. I'm not sure though how many people who are buying hybrids are doing it for the sake of the environment. I think a lot of people just do it to try and show the world they are early adopters.
Interestingly, I purchased my Honda Civic VX just before the state where I live forced the addition of MtBE to gasoline. In the months before MtBE was added, I routinely got 58 to 59 mpg on the highway (calculated from miles driven divided by gallons purchased). While this is less than the cars US EPA highway rating of 65 mpg, my highway driving was typically between 75 to 80 mph. Since MtBE, and then ethanol additions to gasoline, I have gotten much fewer miles per gallon (now 48 mpg). The question I asked then and continue to ask now, Is there any real benefit to using these oxygenates if you end up burning almost 20 percent more fuel. You should know that I have kept a detailed record of gasoline purchases, mileage, octane, etc. since I purchased the car new from the dealer - as it provides an early indication of the need for a tune-up or other problem (the car has been tuned once outside of normal scheduled maintenance since I have owned it). The first few years of vehicle ownership, I logged more than 200 miles 5 days a week and purchased gasoline exclusively from Exxon/Mobile (the time during which I note the change in fuel economy related to oxygenate addition to gasoline). While I have not driven this car as much in the last few years, and most of those miles around town, I still get 48 mpg and now have over 250,000 miles logged on this vehicle. Me? Buy a Hybrid? I think not.
While there is a need for early adopters to push marketable technology - using the market to force progress, I know of several Hybrid purchasers that adopt a holier-than-thou environmental attitude until I begin to ask some simple, yet I hope informative, questions (e.g., When do you need to replace the batteries? What does it cost? What kind of batteries does your vehicle use? Where do the used batteries go when you are done with them? etc?). I have not found a Hybrid owner yet that has a clue as to the actual environmental impact of their vehicle. More to the point, if people want an environmentally friendly ("green") means of getting about town, why don;t they walk or bicycle? While I understand that a Hybrid or any other vehicle offers speed and convenience that most of us enjoy and rely on, how can someone claim to be an environmentalist without seriously changing their vehicle use pattern .
I am so glad to see someone else talking about life cycle analysis of cars. This is a very serious issue. I bought a used 2004 Civic Hybrid at the end of my 1991 Accord's lifespan two years ago. Unfortunately, a glitch in the Civic computer program caught too late trashed the catalytic converter, or so the computer analysis done at the dealer says. How much energy went into mining the Pt, building the housing for the converter, etc? I asked for it back to see if we can recycle it, but I have my doubts. I dread the day I have to replace the battery. PS We take the hybrid on trips, and I use it in bad weather, but ride my bike whenever I can!