Saturday, May 31, 2008

Best Fuel Efficient Cars

With gas prices at $4+ per gallon, there is a renewed focus on cars that have the best fuel efficiency. Hybrids get the most attention, but there are actually a few other cars that provide the most bang for your buck, according to Consumer Reports. Each of these cars is ranked by the cost of the car divided by its observed MPG.

Model (MPG) - Price per MPG

1) Honda Fit Sport manual (34 mpg) - $464
2) Honda Fit base (32 mpg) - $476
3) Toyota Prius base (44 mpg) - $540
4) Mazda3 manual (30 mpg) - $576
5) Toyota Prius Touring (42 mpg) - $591
6) Nissa Versa 1.8 SL (28 mpg) - $596
7) Honda Civic Hybrid (37 mpg) - $605
8) Honda Civic EX manual (31 mpg) - $607
9) Hyundai Elantra GLS (27 mpg) - $650
10) Scion tC base (26 mpg) - $658

A couple of interesting observations:

- 7 of the top 10 most fuel efficient cars are NOT hybrids
- The Honda Civic Hybrid barely outperforms the Honda Civic EX in Price/MPG
- The Prius Touring edition (bigger wheels, tighter suspension) gets 2 less MPG than the normal Prius according to CR

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Prius & Gallardo Using the Same Designer?

The new Toyota Prius and the current Lamborghini Gallardo look very similar from the front and all the way to the A-pillar. Did Toyota hire Lamborghini's designer? You be the judge!

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tata Nano - the first $2500 car in the US?

Tata, an Indian automaker, is building a $2500 car. The Tata Nano is 10 feet long and is powered by a 2 cylinder engine. It gets an estimated 51 MPG. While there are no immediate plans to sell this car in the US yet, I'm sure that we'll start seeing these driving around shortly. One of the challenges with bringing these micro cars to the US is that the vehicles don't yet meet US safety and emission standards. By the time these cars are modified for the US, you can bet that the price will rise.

Personally, I think the car looks like a deformed Prius that has been pushed together from the front and back. It doesn't look like there are any crumple zones in the car either. I believe the engine is mounted in the back to conserve space. My biggest fear for this car is its safety - you could very well end up with one a tire in your lap in a minor accident.

With oil hitting $126 per barrel, you can bet that cheap, gas-efficient cars will be in high demand, even if the cars look like deformed Priuii.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Used car prices on the rise?

Now that the US Dollar is getting pummeled in the global markets (1 EURO = 1.55 USD at today's exchange rate), prices for European cars are on the rise. On a recent trip to a San Mateo, CA BMW dealer, we saw a brand new M3 coupe list for $72k and a new M3 convertible list for $82k! The devaluation of the dollar brings back memories of the 90's, when the Japanese Yen was crushing the US Dollar and prices of Japanese imports were going through the roof. Remember when the 1995 Toyota Supra had a staggering MSRP at $44k?

With the dollar declining, there are reports that Europeans and some Asians are scooping up used BMWs, Mercedes, and Porsches in the U.S. and shipping them back to Europe and Asia. Some of the cars that are being shipped back to Europe including models like the BMW Z8, Mercedes SL600, SL63, and Porsche 911. We're seeing that prices for used Porsche 911's are holding up very well, with some models even appreciating slightly. Perhaps this is good news for those that already own European cars, but bad news for those that are looking to buy new or used European cars.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are Hybrids Really Worth It - Part 2

Last month, I wrote about the perceived vs real cost effectiveness of hybrid vehicles. My conclusion was that hybrid owners would have to keep the car for 7-8 years and/or gas prices would have to hit $7-9 per gallon to offset the higher purchase price of the vehicle.
We're starting see spy photos of the new 3rd generation Toyota Prius and the details that are being leaked are leading me to believe that cost gap is shrinking.

For example, the new Prius engine will be larger and more powerful (going from 1.5 liters to 1.8 liters), but the hybrid system will be even more efficient so both performance and fuel economy will improve as well. The new electric motor will play a bigger part in the power delivery, and what this means is a short trip to the local post office might not require any fossil fuel at all!

Toyota has hinted that the new Prius will be priced at the same MSRP as the current Prius, possibly even lower for the base level Prius. Just imagine 6 months from now, when a new Prius can be had for $21,000 sticker with noticeably improved fuel economy and gas prices hovering above $4 per gallon. Perhaps the new Prius hybrids are really cost effective to own after all, with other tangibles like better performance and more interior room representing icing on the cake!

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Monday, May 5, 2008

SMART Car pricing premiums revisited

A few months ago, I wrote about the Smart Car price premiums people were paying in order to be the first on their block to own a new Smart ForTwo. In February, gas prices were high, but they weren't as high as they are now ($4+ here in SF). I was curious to see if these high gas prices had any effect on the demand for Smart Cars. Since my Smart Car MSRP premium post, PriceHub has had 9 real sold prices for Smart Cars entered. They all seem to have sold for significantly more than the MSRP price - following the same pattern that I saw back in February:

SMART Pure: +38% over MSRP
SMART Passion: +39% above MSRP
SMART Passion Cabriolet: +33% above MSRP

Here are some of the more recent sold price entries:

Passion Cabriolet - $22,500 (Idaho)
Passion Cabriolet - $22,500 (Florida)
Passion Coupe - $19,450 (Pennsylvania)
Passion Cabriolet - $23,000 (Wisconsin)

See all SMART ForTwo Sold Prices.

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