BMW vs Prius

The good folks over Times Online did a “real world” mileage comparison of the Toyota Prius and BMW 540d. Guess who won? The BMW!

After hearing people complain about not being able to get the EPA rated mileage from their Prius’s, Times Online decided to do a real world test. The results? The BMW got 41.9 mpg, and the Prius only mustered a cool 40.1 mpg. Now, you get more energy per gallon of diesel than gasoline, so it’s not really fair to compare a diesel car to a gasoline car. But, I think it brings up a good point: People need to chill out about hybrids and stop thinking they are so eco-friendly by buying one.

I personally never really liked Hybrids. I’m all for better fuel economy and supporting new technologies, but I think that hybrids are a bunch of hot air. It’s simply a poor strategy to try to support two fundamentally different drive-trains like that in a car (electric and gasoline motors). Pick one or the other, and engineer it properly.

To be honest, I think that Hybrids have become a huge marketing ploy. Remember the Geo Metro Xfi:

Geo Metro Xfi

43 mpg city, 51 mpg highway (1993, from No expensive batteries. No complicated hybrid drive-train. How about the Honda CRX HF:


41 mpg city, 50 mpg highway (1989 from

Sure, these cars a bit a bit ugly these days. But these are gasoline only cars with technology that’s over a decade old. Why the hell are we supposed to be so excited about expensive, bloated hybrids that really don’t perform all that well? Yeah, these older cars didn’t have as much saftey equipment (federally mandated side impact bars, no dual airbags), but you’d think that 10 years of development would be able to overcome such hurdles. What happened to efficient 1 liter engines. Do they even sell a car in the US anymore with a 1 liter engine?

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not in love with gasoline. In fact, I think electric cars are the answer (you can decouple the energy and transportation problems and attack them separately). But until we get them, WTF guys, what’s with these lame-ass, non-impressive hybrids. I don’t know, I’m guessing companies make more money off of hybrids than super efficient commuter cars? That’s fine… just stop pretending that buying a hybrid makes you so special.

Source Times Online via technoride

images from technoride, grassrootsmotorsports, alldiscountautoparts

Filed under: Cars | Transportation @ 6:43 am

19 Comments for this post

You believe that electric cars are the future but that hybrids don’t make sense? Isn’t that oxymoronic? Hybrids are a perfect step towards the electrification of the automobile. The path to cost-effective plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will be bridged by today’s hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius. That’s what the Hybrid Synergy Drive, for example, is all about – an adaptable electric drive train.

The reality of electric vehicles requires advanced, cheap mass-produced batteries – something that today’s hybrid cars are pushing automakers towards. You can’t see that? You can’t see that hybrid technology is just emerging? You can’t see that the potential of hybrid technology is only just being tapped? Please.

If your standards had been used on computers, society would still be dominated by desktop calculators.

And your fuel efficiency test above – whatever! Most unbiased tests of the Prius have put mileage at about 45 mpg. Still, I know plenty of people that regularly achieve more than 60 mpg with their Prii.

For more news about hybrid cars and the Prius go to

When Toyota unveils their Prius II PHEV-6 in 2009 for ~$27k along with a $2k retrofit for existing 2004+ Prius II owners, gas mileage will increase to 75 mpg on average, and up to 150mpg for those with shorter trips/commutes and access to a plug. The Li-Ion Prius III & the GM Volt will soon follow, with their 20-30 mile all electric range.

The PHEV-6 retrofit means that you’ll be able to buy a used 2004 Prius for $16k and convert it for $2k. $18k for 75-150mpg, depending upon ones circumstances.

It’s funny. Hybrid owners complain about their cars because they are not electric yet but will be. Non-hybrid owners don’t seem to have a clue that hybrids are a precursor to electric. Well put soultek.

You’ll never have a 100mpg diesel. But you’ll see converted Priuses getting 100mpg before 2010. Mine will be one.

Marc, you do bring up a good point. I actually very much like the idea of plug-in hybrids. The thing that irks me, is the marketing behind all these hybrids. “Buy a Hybrid, you’re a better person for it,” type marketing. That and hybrid SUV’s… yuck. PHEV’s focus on electric propulsion, and just use the ICE as a band-aid for the shitty batteries until we have better batteries or other energy storage device. But why oh why didn’t we just start off that way?

And the Volt, I love it. I think that’s the proper way to attack the problem. How “hybrids” should have been built all along. All electric drivetrain. Use an ICE operating under it’s most efficient conditions as a generator.

I guess I’m not sold on the notion that “hybrids” are the best path to electric. And I still think the strategy to directly use both electric and ICE motors in the drivetrain was the wrong way to go. The production overhead (in cost, materials, and complexity) seems to high to me.

okay, enough rambling :)

Hi Santi,

Good points all. The hybrid SUVs do indeed suck, but those too are a potential market for PHEV conversion. The Ford Escape Hybrid is still only 35mpg, but wait until the first 10-20 miles are all electric. As for the “path”, we have to combine gas & electric for consumer piece of mind. Electric cars finally became great performers in the 90s, but were still shunned in part because of limited range (200 miles) and lack of refueling infrastructure. Who wants to have to find a plug on a long trip? Consumers are only willing to “jump” to electric if they have the reliable gas engine backup, which means more complications and cost, and it’s taken another 10 years to get to this point. I too like the Volt setup, and it may be preferable to the direct use of EV & ICE, but I think at the end of the day we are debating “awesome” & “really awesome”.

The real problem with purely electric cars isn’t so much the infrastructure as the battery life: we simply don’t have batteries that can store enough charge to give a reasonable range to an electric car. Until we do, plug-in hybrids make a lot of sense, but I’ve yet to see these really be marketed heavily. And hybrids like the Prius are marketed heavily as “clean” alternatives to other gasoline vehicles.

I think the problem here isn’t hybrid tech, it’s marketing. People really need to realize that hybrids are just one step, not the goal – and that the next step is pure electrics. As far as the original article goes, it’s one of the few things I’ve seen that dents the eco-friendly image of the Prius and it’s ilk.

Just saw this:

Short Version: California trims the number of emission-free vehicles that need to be sold by 2012, but effectively requires plug-in hybrids.

What prevented hybrids from being plug-in from the start? To me, this is an enormous step. If you truly can just keep charging often enough and never have to rely on gas for your short commutes, the average consumer will finally grow disgusted with gas fill-ups. Again, what prevented this from the start, and like Max said, why aren’t they heavily marketed now? I doubt it’s a technological breakthrough to add a plug.

I think that all the hype about having a hybrid car is not so much different than any other type of car,people want to feel that they’re special and tend to believe that a car makes a statement, what about all that people that buy a big ass SUV and never take it off road, just for the looks, or the ones with an italian sportscar who never drive it past 120kph,if the owner of a hybrid car want to believe that they’re better just because the car its not my problem, people complaining and not doing anything is.

I have been getting 33mpg with my 2007 HONDA Civic non-hybrid. I am on my first tankful using ETHOL, a purported increaser of mileage by 10%. The result at the 1/2 tank level is more like 15-20%, which brings mileage to 37 to 40 (approx.) We’ll see after several tankfuls. At the retail level, an ounce of ethol (all mu car should require after the first tankful), the cost is $1.67/tankful. Check them out on the web.

Evs are great. How about a magnet motor to power your car?

Hybrids, taken for what they are, are just a way to structure a gasoline-powered drive train so you can use a more efficient ICE and not waste as much energy when you slow down. They give a reasonable mpg increase for the same amount of power. The HSD transmission is really not much more complex than an automatic transmission (and arguably is simpler in many ways). It’s heavier & more expensive due to the large battery needed. The marketing & the way people treat it has been over-hyped, but don’t hate on the technology just because marketing and popular culture suck. As people have said, it’s a good step in the right direction.

Older cars got good mileage but had worse safety, emissions, and acceleration stats. You couldn’t build a car like that nowdays. A hybrid car will get better gas mileage than an identical car with a standard ICE, no question.

@Marc, Hybrid SUVs suck? Well standard SUVs suck more. If the FEH gets 35 miles to the gallon, take a look at the non-hybrid escape and tell me the hybrid drive train is doing nothing. And I see commercials nowdays touting mid-size cars as being “fuel efficient” and getting 35mpg, so it’s nothing to sneeze at — especially with the increased capacity of an suv.

But I have to agree that plug in hybrids are a very exciting technology on the horizon. Now we just have to green up our power grid!

@mike you don’t just “add a plug” for a plug in hybrid. You need significantly greater battery capacity to give EV mode enough range to make it worth it. That’s where the technological problem lies.

You people are idiots, you do realise that when you plug in an electric vehicle, it gets powered by a coal or nuclear power station… well done guys.

John, F,
You need to know that electricity is the most universal source of power at this time. Not only does it come from nuclear sources and coal, but it can be generated by; wood, alcohol, gasoline, oil, propane, methane(natural gas),geothermal, hydroelectric, wind and tidal action. (Please excuse me if I have left some out) The point is we can use the most abundant, economical or greenest source available to produce the energy needed.

I am in agreement with this article. I have to say that my wife still drives her old Geo and still get 50-52 mpg. I also wonder why the industry is falling behind rather than going ahead. I owned a Focus wagon which carried as much in it as I would in a SUV. The Focus was getting about 33 mpg loaded down. When I drove it to 185,000 miles and wanted to replace it with a new one Ford stopped making them. By the way that Focus had great handling and acceleration for an economical vehicle. There is one less model in the 30+ mpg category

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