Jane Is Making Me Buy a Hybrid Sedan

The car shopping is sort of fun. I love cars more than a little. I love big rumbly engines, I love revving a car engine and feeling it move under me. I love taking a turn so fast that the car turns sideways just a little, but rights itself to speed up again.

I love talking torque.

I also love the planet, as does my daughter. I’m buying a hybrid because Jane is making me. My Mom has two hybrids, they love them. My Dad has two hybrids, he is looking for a 10 cylinder. I’m so totally my dad’s kid. I want to want a hybrid, but really, deep down… all I want is a fast car, preferably with rear wheel drive and an engine that roars at me.

My husband is a Saint. Not really a Great Saint, you know, the kind that lets you have chickens. My husband is the kind of Saint that lets me spend whatever I want on whatever kind of car I want, whenever I want it. So I’ve test driven everything from Hyundai to Porsche, Ford to Cadillac and everything in between.

I’m going to buy the car that ensures my children the best future I can. I’m going to buy a hybrid, because it will pollute less. I’m going to buy a car instead of leasing it, because (as my daughter points out) we don’t keep our cars long enough. I’m not going for the hybrid I’d really like best, because it’s not good for the planet, and the planet belongs to my children. I’ll be buying a midsize hybrid with great safety ratings, because I love my children, and because it’s the right thing to do.

Excuse me if I’m not jumping for joy.

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  1. Hybrids are SUCH a scam. Especially when a battery pack costs $8000 to replace, and they last less than 7 years. And you don’t get much better mileage.

    I’m sticking with my ancient Toyota sedan, a 6-cylinder that’s fast, fun to drive and gets 28 composite city/highway. The heck with modern safety equipment that weighs a ton. I’d rather do without, and get better mileage. Every mile is free, in that car.

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  3. Marvin, I hear you about the battery….my neighbor just had to replace the battery in her hybrid at the cost of $6300 plus labor. She was debating just buying a new year, since the vehicle was not that old.

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    @marvin and @shels I’m not making a fiscal decision with this. It’s really and truly a decision about lessening my carbon footprint, and showing my kids that I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

    I am.

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  6. Hi! Have to say — love your site. Love your commentary and ideas and videos and just the fact that you say what you are thinking and really follow it (eg, Nestle is a GIANT) — love it all.

    Also, I am a big fan of buying, rather than leasing, cars. We buy them and keep them for years. We have even bought used cars from an extremely reliable source. And although I have seen every episode of Top Gear ever produced, I am not what anyone would call a speedy driver. In other words, I am car uber-practical.

    Naturally, I have looked at hybrids, and I am definitely considering one for my next car. I just want to mention — not all of them are actually better for the environment than non-hybrids. And I am not talking about a financial reason. I mean, literally, the production of some hybrids actually requires more resources than that car will ever save in its existence.

    As a regular reader, I know that you like facts and details, but I am not actually an expert in this area, and I am definitely not trying to make sweeping generalizations. And, of course, you are likely already thinking about all of this. It would be a neat project to do with kids — researching energy consumption and savings and charting comparisons across options, both hybrid and non — perhaps before I buy my own next car….

  7. Of all the things I have read on hybrids I just can’t see the “less footprint” argument being valid when you consider what the effects would be of a mass move to hybrids. The carbon output is shifted to the electric plants, many of which are coal powered. The batteries, beyond being expensive, require mining of Lithium (another finite resource) in China and South America. Compact and more efficient nuclear technologies may be a big help in the future but are no where to be found right now. Oh, and you still need gas…not as much, but still.

    I think all of the alternative fuel technologies we have right now are a band-aid until the a real and sustainable solution is implemented.

    My band-aid of choice would be clean (ultra-low sulfur) diesel. Quite comparable gas mileage to hybrids with no lithium battery, no extra strain on power grid (looking at you brownout CA), and diesel engines historically have longer lives than internal combustion.

  8. Alright — I’ve got to chime in. Have you looked at Fisker and Tesla? Both electric (Fisker is a plug-in hybrid), both rockets, and they both have four doors (Tesla’s sedan is on the way).

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      Oh I have been looking. But I’m also thinking that whatever I buy will be my daughter’s first car, so I’d rather it be “less speedy”.

      I’d love to get my husband into a Tesla. His car needs to be replaced in June. :)

  9. Scott — valid arguments, and I agree that they’re a stopgap until there can be something a bit more long-term. However, you can’t discount the importance of centralized generation in the equation. Once a car leaves the showroom, it’s unlikely to ever be upgraded. Power plants have to adhere to updated emissions laws. Plus, per capita emissions drop dramatically if people are in more efficient vehicles.

    Not to mention carbon capture is virtually impossible on millions of cars, but relatively simple at stationary power generation facilities. So if this tech ever gets off the ground, it’ll make a huge difference.

  10. I have a different point of view on this issue. I am no carbon footprint expert, but I like to apply a little common sense to these decisions. So….why not buy used? I have to admit my family does not drive a ton, but our car solutions are a 1964 Rambler (cool, not fuel efficient), and a 2000 Buick (very grandpa, but great fuel economy and safety features to protect my teenage drivers). If you can get over the image thing (and I do struggle with my GOLD –yuck–Buick), isn’t buying a used car (with good fuel economy/emissions controls) the most responsible choice?

    And…this pains me to write. I am from Detroit. I am all for supporting my home town, but I wanted to add this used car idea to the consideration set.

  11. I totally agree with the previous bandaid/stopgap comments. I think one of the biggest things I would be looking at in a new car (hybrid, electric, clean diesel or otherwise) is the life-cycle footprint of the different options between brands. Check out how different companies handle sourcing, manufacturing and waste disposal. These other lifecycle costs represent around 35% of a car’s total footprint, not counting indirect costs (land use, social costs, health impacts, etc.).

  12. I am not going to rehash all of the comments above, but I do have the opinion that hybrids may not be the most Earth friendly vehicles in the long run. America seems obsessed by electric instead of other alternative fuel technologies.

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