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Old February 8th, 2019, 03:59   #20
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: St Louis
Fuel Economy: fantastic

The "hybrid = performance" angle isn't anything new to me. I was working at Lexus when the RX400h debuted. And I can tell you from a standing start it will tear the paint off a standard issue RX330, and they both used the same 3MZ-FE 3.3L V6. And the hybrid GS450h, which uses the same 2GR-FSE 3.5L V6 as the GS350, is even more brutal with performance. That car is seriously fast, although obviously just in acceleration... but shoot, it gets into the illegal side of the speedometer so quickly that it hardly matters if its top speed is no better than the non-hybrid version, both of which are probably limited to a specific number anyway.

But Toyota had to be careful, because on one hand they were working hard to make all the greenie feel good people want a Prius, so they couldn't exactly flaunt the performance attributes of other hybrids. And the Prius is the exact OPPOSITE of performance. A Corolla with a trunk full of sand and a weak cylinder could beat a Prius in the stop light to stop light gran prix.

And so I think, to some extent, the Prius... the darling poster child of the hybrid mindset (let's be honest, most folks now, when you think "hybrid", you think "Prius") has in some ways tarnished the idea of a performance hybrid even though it doesn't necessarily mean it should be so. The ill-fated hybrid Jetta is another one that is a seriously zippy car, but consumers here surveyed by Volkswagen during the Moonraker project showed Americans equated hybrids with slow, dorky, awkward little cars. In a later survey, they found the same results, and is why they specifically touted the Jetta hybrid's performance, with lots of use of the word "turbo" in their marketing. Yet it still sold poorly.

Prius still sells well, despite the fact that later in life they are not without their faults. Here are some of the more recent Prius Fails we've addressed here:

Inverter water pump and cooling system control valve:

(this, along with a mechanical water pump drive belt... unrelated... is nearly a $1k repair, and this car hasn't even traveled as far as a TDI of the same year would have gone to require a timing belt replacement)


While these never outright "fail", the CVTs the Priuses use are very good in that respect, they have coolant flowing through them to cool the M/G, and there is a seal in the bellhousing that fails and causes a leak out the bottom. This requires the ENTIRE gearbox be taken apart to fix, and Toyota does not even sell any parts of these anyway, so even if I wanted to just replace the o-ring, I can't. This one *just* made it to 100k miles.

And of course, the ever popular hybrid battery pack:

We do a TON of these. Fortunately, in the last couple years, Toyota started an exchange program, which reduced the cost considerably... so much that we no longer mess with used ones or piecing cells together to make a good used one. This is still not a cheap job, and they did NOT make it easy to do, half the rear portion of the interior of the car has to come apart.

We are also starting to see a bunch of evap cores leaking on them, which is a complete dash removal job.

And then all the things that allow the engines to blow up. Electric water pump quits working and the engine overheats? Death Triangle comes on. Run the engine out of oil and the oil pressure drops? Death Triangle comes on. No actual warning light, no gauges, no nothing. Just the Death Triangle... and people drive them until they die. Seriously, they went through all the effort to make the dash look like a 1980s Colecovision gameset, you'd think they could have put in a warning message "HEY, MORON, THE ENGINE IS OVERHEATING, STOP DRIVING!" or "HEY, YOU, WITH THE $11TY CUP OF STARBUCKS, THERE IS NO OIL REMAINING IN THE ENGINE, STOP DRIVING!" but no, just the gentle Death Triangle. They should have at least put a dollar sign in the middle of it.

Sorry about the Prius rant... been a busy week with them, and I am not even done yet.

But I still think if we took some of the better attributes of the hybrids, and integrated them into "mainstream" cars, without actually making them a hybrid, we could get most of the benefits without as much of the cost and long term misery.

Last edited by oilhammer; February 8th, 2019 at 04:13.
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