Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fill 'er up

Well, ULI has recently released the results of a survey detailing consumer attitudes and driving habits. It basically tells you crap that you probably could have figured out with common sense and some experience if you've lived or talked to people that have lived in other areas of the country.

Basically, ULI's survey says a bunch of things like, more people in the East (Northeast is more accurate) are less reliant on cars and thus less likely to buy a fuel efficient vehicle. If you're one of the millions of people that have ever commuted to work a job in NYC, you know you want to avoid driving around New York if you want to get to work on time consistently. The mass transit systems in other areas, like Atlanta are pretty much sucky, so people will see a car of their own as the only way to get around. It especially makes sense if you're in a rural or suburban area... DUH!!!

I bet if other cities had the need and resources to build a similar mass transit system to the one in NYC, they would to reduce congestion. I can't imagine what it'd be like if even a quarter of the people that commute into the city suddenly all drove in. NYC is space-limited so it is a bit easier to develop a transit system so that's the other hurdle to overcome. A city like LA or Chicago with their spread out urban and suburban area, a cohesive transit system would be very difficult to create. At this point, urban planners just give up... sad really.

It's also obvious that with recent surge in gas prices people are a lot more conscious of fuel efficency when buying a new car. And because many of them drive alone to work because they pretty much have to (a car pool isn't exactly easy when you live in the middle of nowhere) it's a big concern. I know a lot of people at Mercedes USA that drive 60+ miles just to get to work.

One thing that they don't mention is the lack of sense a lot of people have when choosing their new "fuel-efficent" cars. Many people think that buying a gas-electric hybrid makes great sense since they're using less fuel. I think maybe they forgot to factor in the added cost of the hybrid model? I guess the same goes for the diesels but that's much less severe usually.

You generally pay at least $5k more for a hybrid versus your standard gasoline car. The math just doesn't add up. You'll have to spend quite a lot on gas for very long time (well over 10 years!) to come out on top. So, not really worth it to save money on fuel costs.

Instead, it does make sense to sell it for the other reasons, like the new technology in most hybrid cars and the trim package with the extra power that some hybrids offer. I wouldn't buy a Honda Civic Hybrid at all over a fully-loaded regular Civic since there's no incentive other than being "green." However, the Toyota Prius would be a tougher choice since it does have a very nice nav screen and good space layout etc over a Corolla or Matrix. A RX400h luxury SUV hybrid with the benefit of extra power and performance makes sense in the luxury market where people are willing to drop ~$5k over the fully-loaded gas model for 'all the bells and whistles.'

Like I mentioned before, motorcycles are insanely fuel efficient when compared with cars, even the most gas-guzzling Harley gets better gas mileage than your Civic. If it wasn't so dangerous with many idiot drivers here in Jersey, I'd think about taking a nice Ducati mini-Monster to work during the spring and summer with there's no rain. If I do move down to Florida, I'm definitely going to get a license and buy a nice Monster when I have the money saved up for it. My AWD Talon would still be a great weekend car and for rainy days.


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