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Monday, April 25, 2005

US Cars versus EU Cars

Several people were amazed when I told them that my parents are just about to buy a gasoline engined car, which isn't a gasoline electric hybrid, that has 5 doors, seats 5 people, and gets over 60 miles per gallon (mpg). Why? Because the closest non hybrid car would be a diesel VW Golf and it doesn't get any more than 46mpg. Surely this 60mpg car must be a 5 door rickshaw? No, not at all, it actually looks very nice, and I'd certainly consider trading in our Ford Focus for one if I were in the market for a new car and if they were sold in the US.

"What gasoline car gets 60mpg?" you may ask.

The answer is; "A Honda Jazz", and here are the specifications:

So the question is; "Why are all american cars so inefficient?"

Gasoline electric hybrid cars are not popular in the UK. Why would anyone want one when you could get a normal gasoline car which gets better fuel economy than the hybrid. The US consumer seems to demand a large engine, our Ford Focus has a 2 litre while the Honda Jazz has either a 1.4 or the 1.2, which makes the 60mpg figure. Both cars are quite capable of cruising comfortably either on the US highway or on the UK motorway, however, the Focus gets just over half the mpg that the Jazz gets despite the fact that the Jazz actually has more passenger room inside.

Perhaps the american consumer will soon adopt more fuel efficient cars. I, for one, would be very happy getting 60mpg without having to resort to buying a gasoline electric hybrid whose battery will most likely die soon after the 100,000 mile mark.

What do you think? Please leave a comment or email your question, which you'd like me to answer for free, to Ben Dash at


Blogger Father Dan said...

Regarding Hybrid Cars - Check out the gas savings calculator at to see how much you can save with a hybrid vehicle. Most people are prety surprised at how quickly you recoup the "extra" cost, especially with rising gas prices.

If you are interested in Hybrid vehicles there is a lot more information there as well.


11:49 PM  
Blogger Ben Dash said...

Thanks for the link to MixedPower, the savings calculator is a nice tool. If your driving route tends to be urban, where the Honda Jazz only gets 41.5mpg the Jazz will cost $11 more per month than the Toyota Prius and $16 more per month than the Honda Insight based upon a daily distance driven of 30 miles and $2 per gallon for fuel.

If, however, your driving route tends to be extra urban, i.e. highway, where the Honda Jazz gets 60.1mpg then the Jazz will actually cost $2 less then the Prius although the Jazz still costs $2 more than the Manual Insight in this scenario.

If we compare the Honda Jazz to the Honda Insight the 5 door Jazz is clearly a much more practical everyday car than the 3 door Insight in terms of both passenger and luggage space. The Honda Jazz and Toyota Prius are much more evenly matched as regards passenger and luggage space after converting litres to cubic feet thanks to the Google calculator.

Personally I would prefer a Honda Jazz rather than a Toyota Prius simply because at the 100,000 mile point both vehicles are likely to start experiencing routine failures of components and a Prius is inherantly more complicated to fix than a Jazz and so, I would expect, more expensive to maintain. The Jazz is simply a safer bet in terms of resale value and future maintenance costs, not to mention the fact that the Honda Jazz is far far far cheaper than the Toyota Prius in the first place.

The Honda Jazz's MSRP is 7,982 pounds versus 17,545 pounds for the Toyota Prius. Taking the exchange rate to be 1.89 USD to the pound that equates to a price difference of $18,900. $18,900 will buy 9450 gallons of gasoline at $2/gallon. 9450 gallons of gasoline is enough to theoretically power the Honda Jazz for 567,000 miles based upon an assumed 60.1mpg. Cars are certainly cheaper in the US, a Prius, if you can find one, would not likely cost $18,900 more than a Honda Jazz, if it were available in the US, however, the point is that the Hybrid car makes little sense financially when compared to the traditional gasoline car especially when one considers the additional disposal costs for the Hybrid's battery at the end of its life. I believe that this is the reason why Gasoline Electric Hybrids cars are not popular in the UK. Why they are popular in the US is somewhat of a mystery to me, but I believe that it is based around the US consumer's general dislike of small vehicles with small engines.

10:14 AM  

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