Friday, May 14, 2004

Seeds of Early Enthusiasm

First, a thanks to all of you who have shared thoughtful, provocative, and constructive comments -- pro or con -- directly to me via e-mail or on this blog. There's an incredible amount of "passion" around this subject, and despite the tough questions being raised (mine included), I just sense that EVERYONE wants this hybrid-technology to work and succeed. Second, I do want to reiterate that when I first bought my hybrid, my enthusiasm and excitement was so off the charts that I made my own iMovie about my experience, which my wife Erika filmed. (Blame Steve Jobs for making iMovie so "Add-Water-And-Stir.")Key message: there's no one on Planet Earth that wants to be bigger advocate of hybrid technology that this author. That said, to ensure this technology takes off and finds a mass audience, the advertising, promotion, and dealer messaging must set proper expectations, especially with "early" buyers who other consumers (and even the media) look to for early insight. Thanks again for all the feedback, and keep it coming.


At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Hybrid.

You should have bought a Prius. Honda doesn't get it yet. I've had a Prius for two years and get 48 - 52 mpg consistantly. My first year I filled up a mere 13 times.

Hybrid technology works, not all car manufacturer's will get the tech right the first time. Honda is laging, ther finailly changed the battery system to the smaller, lighter 300 volt system similar to the Prius.

I for one will never buy another 100% gas engine vehicle. Having said that, I do prefer the original Prius sedan to the ugly hatchback design of the new model. I suspect the new model may not perform as well as the original Prius.

Sounds like you bought a lemon, keep the faith Hybrids work when they are designed well.


At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a really interesting experience that you describe and I think highlights a critical principle for environmentalists: never exaggerate. In the short term, people will get on board. In the long term, people will be angry, disillusioned, and unwilling to believe what ever the big picture is. Unfortunately, advertising is often about exaggeration and hype. The result could be that people will fail to support emerging technologies after they realize that they have been burnt and that realistically, the first generation machines will nt be a huge advantage over other machines. such innovations will, however, lead the way. In fifteen years, the technology will be that much better.

So thanks for sharing your experience. I'll be interested to follow the thread as it continues

- care about the air

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two brief items.

First, I am way behind the times because this the first blog I have ever read! I've had a blast reading every entry, going to the hyperlinks, etc. Thanks for the info.

Second, during lunch today, I decided to do some prelim searching of hybrid options. Little did I think I would stumble on to this wealth of info. Certainly gives me another realm in which to consider all options.

No advice on your car. But, as a marketing professional myself, I do applaud your efforts with the ad agency, etc. Just so sorry that no one has responded.

good luck.

At 1:57 AM, Blogger gregger said...

Hey there,
We have a Civic Hybrid as well. A funny thing happened to us when my wife filled the tank a few months ago. She left the gas cap a little ajar and eventually the Maintenance Required light came on (or maybe it was the engine light).

Right about this time, the mileage shot up from a consistent 40 to 42 MPG to about 48 MPG.

We finally figured out that we needed to re-seat the cap, and eventually the light went off. As soon as we fixed the cap, the mileage returned to 40 to 42 MPG.

Recently she noticed the Maintenance Required light came on again. She has the car away from me, so I didn't check the gas cap myself yet, but she said the mileage is up around 50 MPG again. We're going on a long trip this weekend and I'm thinking about leaving the cap ajar to see what really happens.

The car did go more miles on the fill where we left the gas cap ajar for a while... maybe it's not a computer malfunction reporting better mileage and an actual physical phenomena affecting the mileage.

If you can stand seeing the light on in your dash, maybe give that a shot.


At 8:36 AM, Blogger Phil W said...


We (my wife and I) bought a Civic Hybrid a couple of yrs ago when they first came out (automatic, stick wasn't available in our area at that time and our old car was totally dead so we couldn't wait). While the car doesn't keep track of average lifetime mileage (unless you never reset one of the 2 mileage settings), I would estimate lifetime we've gotten about 42-43 mpg total, and I do reset one of the counters at each fillup to verify the numbers its showing are right (i.e. I put in 12 gallons at fillup and then get 500+ miles).

The biggest factor for us regarding mileage seems to be the weather and our driving habits (mostly weather - we're in Chicagoland area). During the bone-chilling times we generally get about 36-42, while during the nicest warmest weather we get about 42-46. The second biggest factor seems to be driving habits. While we're not obsessive about timing lights and whatnot, if we drive a bit more conservatively we definitely notice mileage differences of at least a few mpg.

The only thing about the car that annoys us (and it might be on all new hondas, don't know), is the fact that the "Maint Reqd" light lights up when the car is due for its scheduled maintanance (20,000, 30,000, etc..), even though there is NOTHING wrong with it. The dealer can reset the light and turn it off.

Good luck, we have over 32,000 miles on our civic and we wouldn't trade it for anything....except maybe that cool new 2nd generation Prius. That may become our other car.


At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I too have been interested in the Hybrid cars and find your comments also interesting. I've chosen to comment to this because it partically answered a question I had while reading your story - What are other users getting for mileage.
I agree the EPA ratings are meaningless, although I generally get better results then they do, but I haven't bought a Hybrid to compare it. But then even my wife complains because I drive "softly" with trying to race away from the lights, etc.
Good luck, I also want to see Hybrids succeed.

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