Four Second-hand Hybrids to Avoid

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Sep 252012

And one to keep an eye on

The Toyota Prius is by far the most popular eco car, and one of the best on the market. When looking at second-hand green cars this is the one to keep your eye open for but, since the rise in popularity of eco cars, there have been plenty of others showing up throughout the country.

Toyota Prius - Plug In Hybrid Eco Car

Toyota Prius – Plug In Hybrid Eco Car

Just because a car is labelled as a hybrid, does not particularly mean it is a good car or is fuel-efficient. If this is important got you, here are four second-hand hybrids on the market to steer clear from, or at least think twice about before heading to the bank.

2010-2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6

It has the BMW name and looks like a regular BMW X6, but this now-discontinued car used a tailored two-mode hybrid system that was designed for a large truck, together with a custom 4.4-litre twin turbo V8 engine that resulted in an output of 407hp. Although the efficiency was better than BMW’s conventional X6, it still used 19mpg of fuel.

BMW ActivE - Electric Car

BMW ActivE – Electric Car

The idea behind BMW’s green car was to design a vehicle that would mimic a seven-speed transmission using four gears and three electric assists. This way the car would feel like a regular BMW when behind the wheel. The problem with this green car was that the two-mode hybrid system ended up costing more than $10,000 per vehicle. Now that this car is discontinued, it is very pricey to fix as parts are unavailable, which is something to consider before purchasing.

2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

GM launched this green car a few years ago using a mid-hybrid Belt-Alternator-Starter system. It was only offered for two years and was paired with a 164hp 2.4-litre Ecotec four-cylinder engine. The problem was that its EPA ratings were only marginally better than a regular six-speed automatic transmission Malibu, which cost $2,000 less than the Hybrid.

The Malibu Hybrid does not offer drivers a smooth ride due to the rotation of the electric motor switching over to regenerate the battery charging. When GM declared bankruptcy in 2009, the Malibu Hybrid disappeared.

2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid / 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid

A Hybrid SUV sounded like a fantastic idea, but it only took Chrysler a few months to realise that this was not the case. After making less than 1,000 Dodge Durango Hybrids and Chrysler Aspen Hybrids, production of this eco car ceased.

Since then, these hybrids are the only green cars Chrysler has manufactured using the two-mode hybrid system that it developed with BMW. Like the BMW ActiveHybrid X6, that system is extremely expensive, not only to manufacture, but also to repair.

2005-2007 Honda Accord Hybrid

This was the only time Honda used its Integrated Motor Assist mild-hybrid system with a 3.0-litre V-6 engine, and it was quite confusing to consumers who saw eco cars as fuel-efficient. Due to its unpopularity, this green car was only made for three years, selling a total of only 28,500 units.

Honda Accord Hybrid Eco Car

Honda Accord Hybrid Eco Car

The Accord Hybrid was 20 per cent better on petrol than the conventional Accord, but it did not only drive by using electric.  Luckily Honda  made other hybrid cars that are high-mileage compacts, but the Accord Hybrid fell short.

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Chevrolet Malibu goes green

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Jan 042012

Eco Malibu

When Chevrolet first rolled the Malibu off the production line in 1964, it was a petrol-guzzler with a V8 engine that produced 300 horsepower. Finally, after 47 years, numerous versions of this popular sedan and a whole lot of miles, Chevrolet has decided to make the Malibu green.

Eco Model with e-assist

As part of its effort to build vehicles that compete equally well in Europe and Asia as they do in North America, General Motors has released a slick new version of the Malibu that includes an ‘Eco’ model with e-assist. This is designed to cut out the engine when the vehicle comes to a standstill, an increasingly common feature these days and a straightforward way to make a real improvement in fuel efficiency. This works in a familiar way – the engine restarts when the driver presses the accelerator again to get moving.

Miles Per Gallon

The above improvements mean that the new Malibu achieves 25 miles to the gallon in the city and a respectable 39 miles per gallon during highway driving. No, it’s not a revelation in terms of fuel efficiency but it’s another major step for a North American car producer that has generally made its name from vehicles that devour fuel – the type of vehicle that has traditionally been typical in the USA.

New Eco Green Chevrolet Malibu Car

New Eco Green Chevrolet Malibu Car

Carbon Footprint

It’s a sign that government legislation in the US is having an effect on how carmakers produce vehicles as they target coming into line with rules under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy. From 2011, these rules have changed. Previously vehicles were required to meet MPG targets as part of a manufacturer’s fleet of cars, but now there is a new equation based on footprint. That means a smaller car has to produce greater fuel efficiency. While this means investing in new technology, adapting vehicles over time to raise their fuel economy and the possibility of alienating consumers in the US that go for large, gas guzzling vehicles, there are commercial benefits.

Closer to EU and Japan standards

As Chevrolet has clearly realised with the Malibu Eco, delivering a vehicle that gets closer to European and Japanese standards of fuel consumption automatically means it becomes more appealing in those markets. After all, American cars, on average, consume about 40 per cent more fuel than their counterparts in the European Union. This is down to design – big SUVs with large engines and little thought for the environment. By building vehicles that conforms to CAFE regulations in the US, these car manufacturers are saving themselves Federal fines and producing cars which hold greater appeal to consumers outside the US. This means that there is less of a need for an alternative model to be developed for these markets and more money is saved on design, R&D and courtesy of economies of scale. This is exactly what has happened with the new Malibu Eco.

Business Sense

For environmentalists, it’s business like this that again serves to undermine arguments that suggest going green makes little business sense. This is simply not true on so many levels and the Malibu Eco proves that. And, more to the point, it’s also a great drive.