Friday, June 29, 2007

Bored. And desktop backgrounds. And… hybrids.

Ever have one of those moments when you have a bunch of time to kill, and you feel like surfing the web, but there’s nothing specific you really want to look at? You must; I’m sure it’s not just me. Well, when that happens, I tend to pull up my trusty HTML editor, and start crafting a blog post.

I’ve spent the last week looking for a new picture to use for my desktop background, but I haven’t found anything I liked. I tried looking for actresses I like—partially as a response to the desktop image Andrea’s currently using, but I won’t tell you what that is—but I realized that there aren’t that many actresses I like. At least, not enough to make her my desktop background. (I looked for Lucy Liu in specific, but everything I found was either not that great, or… well, mildly pornograpnic.) I tried looking for shows that I like, but I couldn’t find much [that I liked] for Harvey Birdman or Home Movies. (I thought Simpsons was too commonplace.) I’m not really into cars, so I didn’t bother looking for car pictures. In the past, I’d spent a good solid couple of hours looking for guitar-themed background images, to little avail, so I didn’t bother with that.

I finally settled on a picture of the interior of the Honda Civic. (Didn’t I just say that I’m not into cars, so I didn’t bother looking for car pictures? Yes I did. So why did I change my mind, and look for a car picture? Read on, for my reasoning…)

We’ve decided to get a new car, because we’ve been thinking about getting a hybrid for… well, for a long time now. From what little I know about hybrids—which isn’t much—our two main choices were to get a Toyota or a Honda. From my reading, I think that Toyota hybrids are a bit more fuel efficient than Hondas, but not really that much, so I was more leaning toward getting a Honda.

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

  • The way Honda and Toyota are marketing their hybrids, they’re the highest option you can get. I don’t know how to explain that properly, but basically, if you want to get a Civic Hybrid, for example, you would get the highest model of the Civic—the one with the most options—and then the hybrid option would be an extra one on top of that.
  • The Honda Civic hybrid chimes in at around $26,000, and the Accord hybrid at $40,000. Yes, you heard me right: forty grand. Forty G’s. Forty kilodollars.
  • I didn’t get pricing for the Toyotas, yet. See the next bullet, for why I didn’t bother.
  • For both the Honda and Toyota hybrids, the batteries for the electric motor are in the trunk.
    • For the Honda, the batteries are affixed to the back of the seats. You lose about an inch or two of trunk space, but other than that, it’s a regular trunk. And, because the batteries are affixed to the back of the seats, you can even fold the seats down, to put large items in the trunk, just like with a regular car.
    • For the Toyotas, the batteries take up the entire trunk. Even for the Yaris—which is a hatchback—the battery takes up the whole trunk. It’s ridiculous; you end up with a couple of inches of trunk space! If you wanted to put a pair of shoes in there, you probably could—but only if they were small shoes. This was the main reason I didn’t bother pricing the Toyotas (even though it would have just taken me 30 seconds on Toyota’s website); we use our trunk heavily, and wouldn’t be able to get a car that didn’t have a trunk. I don’t know why Toyota couldn’t use a smaller battery; they were the first out the gate with hybrid technology; why couldn’t they have found better battery technology, like Honda did?
  • In Ontario, you can get a credit from the government, if you buy a hybrid. In order to qualify for the credit, the car you’re buying has to meet certain efficiency standards. For the Hondas, the Civic qualifies for the credit, but the Accord doesn’t; apparently, they put a more powerful engine in the Accord, which pushed the emission level too high to qualify for the credit.
    • If I understood the numbers correctly—I might not have—the Civic hybrid is about 3 kilodollars more than a “normal” fully decked-out Civic, but the credit from the government is about 4 kilodollars. So it’s like buying a decked-out Civic, and getting the hybrid option for free.
  • How hybrids work:
    • None of the hybrids I’ve seen need to be plugged in; the batteries charge as you drive the car. (When a hybrid is slowing down, it uses the kinetic energy to charge the battery somehow. I don’t know how it works.)
    • Hybrids use electric power as much as possible, and, for the most part, the gas motor only kicks in when the car is accelerating. When the car is idling, the gas motor is completely shut off, meaning that there are no emissions.
    • All of this means that, in terms of fuel efficiency, hybrids are the opposite of regular cars, in that they get better mileage in the city than they do on the highway.
So, because we’re heavily leaning toward getting a Civic hybrid, it’s been on my mind a lot, which is why I ended up with a shot of the Civic interior for my desktop. (It wasn’t even a Civic hybrid’s interior; I think it was a Civic coupe.) Andrea just rolled her eyes at me, because we’re not the types to have car pictures for our desktop wallpaper. (Remember when I mentioned that earlier?) If I really wanted to annoy her, I would get the typical type of car shot, of a low angle of a Civic taking a corner at high speed or something. Something like this:

But I don’t really have any interest in annoying Andrea, so I didn’t do that.


Anonymous said...

Not much. Honda is still playing with the market. It is because of its honda engine parts durability and performance.