A Nickel for your Thoughts

My random thoughts about politics, cars, computers, sports, the environment and so on. For free. And that's about what they're worth.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Driving Like It's 1994

Everybody's so hot for hybrid cars these days. A co-worker of mine is buying a Prius...and he's on a waiting list. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for fuel efficient cars, but there's something perverse about this.

Years ago, you could have bought a car whose gas mileage was almost as good as a 2004-2005 Prius for a fraction of the cost. Anybody remember the Geo Metro XFI, last offered in 1994? The mileage was 53 mpg city, 58 highway. It didn't need fancy-pants hybrid technology and gee-whiz LCD screens to get that kind of mileage. It just needed to be small (overall length 12' 3") and light (1621 pounds) and have an itsy-bitsy 1-liter, 49-horsepower engine (55 in earlier versions).

In a market dominated by SUVs and ever-larger full-size pickups (a new Ford F-150 XL regular cab long box is 765 pounds heavier than the 1996 model), such a car would never make it. Nowadays it doesn't have to, as we have complex, expensive hybrids that get similar gas mileage, but is that really progress? I'm not convinced. If I were on the waiting list for a hybrid I might check AutoTrader or the want ads for a Metro XFI that'd been driven 50,000 miles by a little old lady...just a thought.

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