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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308782  
Subject: Re: Could I Have an "Attaboy!" Date: 6/13/2013 6:32 PM
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vkg,

You wrote, Hybrid's values rise and drop with gas prices and recalls.

For myself, I wouldn't care too much about the resale value of the vehicle given the assumption that I would drive it for a very long time. I will probably never consider buying a used hybrid for the same reason I never buy used batteries or used hard drives. The battery is probably one of the most expensive items on a hybrid and at some point you have to replace it.

Also, I have mixed feeling about buying a used hybrid. The battery technology is improving. The cost of replacing batteries is decreasing, but probably will remain higher for older models.

Actually I wonder about the battery technology. I'm a pretty strong believer in (older) NiMH batteries. They don't seem to suffer from recharge degradation as much as other battery technologies, so they tend to last longer, and they have energy densities similar to newer Li-ion batteries. They do have some serious drawbacks - they're relatively heavy and they tend to self-discharge more when hot (part of the reason my girlfriend's hybrid gets better gas mileage here vs. Texas).

Admittedly Li-ion batteries are state of the art. But they're not perfect and they really only offer one serious improvement over NiMH batteries: weight. Li-ion batteries hold a good deal more energy per ounce. But I've seen several Li-ion batteries fail in consumer electronic devices after only a year or so, and I've not been overly impressed with their shelf life or self-discharge rate and when they fail, they can fail catastrophically. So a car with a Li-ion battery is cool, but also a bit worrisome - mainly because we don't have as much experience with Li-ion as other technologies.

As for the car I'd buy? Probably a Civic Hybrid. (Which I believe switched to a Li-ion in 2012.) I figure the difference in purchase price is between $3,500 to $4,000 for the hybrid vs. a comparable Civic EX. (Though the Hybrid and EX don't compare precisely.) Assuming a $4K delta and only $500/yr in fuel savings (and ignoring differences is resale value), I'm looking at 8 years to break-even - not counting the frictional costs of buying/selling a car early. So break-even is at least 8 years for me ... unless I change jobs again and have to drive a lot more. Looking at it that way, it's a tough sell.

Oh well, maybe when my Accord is a little longer in the tooth. Or when gas prices go up another couple dollars/gallon?

- Joel
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