• Ed Posted: 5/20/2008 2:15pm PDT

    The lengthy article tells us nothing we do not know, and does not tell us what we do not know, ie; whether Toyota is still losing $10,000 on every single hybrid it makes. I suspect they no longer lose $ on the Prius, but they could sure lose a bundle on all these other hybrids they sell that look just like the non-hybrid models and produce rather lousy MPG for hybrids.
    As late as this year, I hear that GM is indeed losing $10,000 on every Tahoe Hybrid it makes/
    THIS is the kind of info that is of interest.

  • Paul Posted: 5/20/2008 9:59pm PDT

    Thanks, Ed, but sadly, without inside access to Toyota's arcane accounting system, it is absolutely impossible to know whether it is -- as it claims -- now making money on the Prius. My own sources suggest that on a running basis, not counting the clearly hefty up-front charges, Prius probably is at least slightly in the black.
    As to GM, it is all but certainly losing money on all its hybrids, even the mild or "mybrid" models, such as the Saturn Vue Green Line. Troy Clarke, head of NA operations, all but confirmed this to me, recently, and said, point-blank, that GM expects to lose money on the Chevy Volt for at least a couple generations. That appears to be the operating business principle for the full, 2-mode hybrids, such as Tahoe.
    Check my article of earlier this week regarding the Ford Escape. Curious that the automaker does not have plans to expand production capacity for the HEV, even as it boosts sales of gas-only Escapes. Why? Well, if you ask, on the record, anyway, you get some convoluted answers. Off-the-record? It costs Ford too much, per unit. There is, apparently, a point at which it makes economic sense to accept a hybrid's losses, whether for PR value or for the long-term cost of tech know-how. Beyond that, Ford seems unwilling to go, even if market demand is there.
    Paul E.

  • Ed Posted: 5/21/2008 11:12am PDT

    Thanks for the comprehensive reply. It reinforces my own guesses. Lutz had said it blatantly, that GM should have thrown $100mill at hybrids when TOyota did, not because they make any sense, but for the PR value. Europe took more than a decade to take hybrids seriously, despite the $8 gas there and $9 in oil exporting Nowray!). Diesels can do a far better job for most people.
    Hybrids are ideal for city fleets of taxis and mail trucks and esp. police cars idling all day long. Not for the private owner, who either does a lot of miles (but highway ones) or a few mostly city miles. In either case, despite the heavy company and Govt subsidisation, Hybrids make no sense for the 1 million private owners that bought them. But their show-off value and their video-game appeal is significant. That explains why the prius sells so well, while hybrids that look just like their non-hybrid counterparts, like the Civic Hybrid, don't.

  • Michael Posted: 5/23/2008 5:04am PDT

    Paul,
    Ed's comments need to be challenged. I am a 2 Prius owner and they do make a lot of sense. Yes, they do get great mileage around town but even better on the highway - consistantly over 50 mpg in both of mine. Compared to a 25 mpg sedan, I save about $1,200 per year on fuel. More importantly, about 5,000 fewer pounds of CO2 annually. And as for show-off value why doesn't Ed talk about the millions of people who bought huge SUV's and pick-ups to show off. At least the Prius owners are "showing" that it is possible to protect our environment, and move towards energy independence. Whether they are labelled "hybrid" or not, big heavy vehicles are modern day dinasours. The faster they become extinct the better off we will all be.