Tag Archive for 'plug-in-hybrid'

Microsoft buys JellyFish, Netbank no more, etc

This is a roundup of a few notable events in the shopping/bargains niche that drew my attention over the past week.

Microsoft buys JellyFish

JellyFish is a price comparison site that pioneered cost per action model in June 2006 and then a few months later spiced it up with reverse price auctions (read my previous coverage here and here).

The auctions have been a huge success for JellyFish. On September 5, 2007 in a smart marketing stunt JellyFish auctioned new Toyota Prius that sold for $18,781 which is 15% below MSRP or 8% below invoice price as quoted by Edmunds.

On October 1, Microsoft announced on its Live Search blog that they acquired the company for an undisclosed amount. As a part of the deal JellyFish team will maintain its standalone identity and its 26 employees will remain in Wisconsin.

My congratulation to Aaron Everson and others at JellyFish team! I hope you are able to keep the ball rolling and “corporate BS” will not stand in the way. ;-)

Read more from BusinessWeek

NetBank closed by US regulators

Even though I am reading now that many had seen this coming for some time, it personally took me by surprise. The major clue would be de-listing the company from NASDAQ earlier this year.

I have a CD-account with NetBank and so far I am not able to get through to the customer service (phone: 888-256-6932). All officers are busy (probably serving all those anxious customers who try to get to their savings) and the hold time is beyond my patience threshold.

After NetBank closed, ING assumed $1.5 billion worth of the failed bank’s FDIC insured deposits. When I spoke to ING rep. they assured me that my account will be rolled into ING upon maturity however I am free to close it now penalty free.

I noticed that somehow I now start paying more attention to that “FDIC insured” logo on bank websites (I read somewhere that customers with deposits in excess of FDIC $100,000 limit will only get one half of their money).

Has closing NetBank affected your finances?

Read more from MarketWatch

Toyota tests new fuel cell hybrid

The success of Prius obviously helped Toyota to realize the huge potential of alternative fuels and I am not surprised at all to see this recent development.

Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday its improved FCHV zero-emission fuel-cell car completed a road test from Osaka to Tokyo, covering 560 km (350 miles), on a single tank of hydrogen.

The vehicle is built upon Toyota’s Highlander SUV and pioneers some amazing new technology like polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack, CO2 based coolant system, and aluminum fenders, roof and other components which make it lighter than the original Highlander.

According to HydrogenCars blog this car is the “first fuel cell vehicle to acquire vehicle type certification under the Road Vehicles Act by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport”.

Most automakers have fuel cell vehicles in the working with expected launch dates around 2012. Does this bit of news mean that Toyota will be able to break that deadline?

Read more from Reuters

Save the environment, at bargain prices

Carbon NeutralI wrote about economical aspects of buying a plugin hybrid car last week and 57% of you said you would buy the car no matter what the savings are. I am sure you care about the environment, why else would you answer the poll the way you did, right? Well, if you truly care for the environment, I suggest you to rethink your decision and invest that $8000 premium money into… saving the environment. Wonder why? I will tell you in just a moment.

One of the people who commented to my blog post questioned the environmental friendliness of a plugin hybrid pointing to the fact that the car runs off of electricity produced by coal powered plants. I will also add that additional components the car has (in particular the battery) take more labor to produce which in turn adds CO2 into the atmosphere. However let’s ignore these facts for now and look into the bottom line.

Is plugin hybrid car an efficient way to save the environment?

For simplicity let’s assume that a hybrid car doesn’t consume any fuel at all and takes the same amount of labor to produce as the regular car. In that case by driving it you would save approximately 4 tons of carbon dioxide from emitting into the atmosphere each year. I estimate that the life span of a plugin hybrid car is approximately 10 years which means it would save 40 tons total.

You probably heard about Kyoto Protocol, the agreement signed by many countries with the aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol created a market of carbon offset certificates where companies reducing emissions get credited by companies not complying to the restrictions.

Chicago Climate Exchange acts as the main broker for the US companies volunteering to participate (unfortunately the US has not officially endorsed the agreement). Only significant emmiters are members of the exchange however the demand produced secondary market and smaller companies and individuals now can buy carbon credits as well. Here are a few reputable organizations selling carbon dioxide credits retail (all prices in US$):

Program Country of origin Price per ton of CO2 US $4 - $25 US $4.2
e-BlueHorizons US $5
LiveNeutral US $6.20
DrivingGreen Ireland $8.00
TerraPass US $8.81 - $11
NativeEnergy US $12
CleanerClimate UK & Australia $15.66
ZeroFootprint Canada $16
ClimateFriendly Australia $18

At these rates, to offset 10 years worth of a gasoline car emissions you would only have to spend around $200. Just think about it. The premium you pay to buy a cleaner car can offset emissions from 40 gasoline cars! Another cool thing is you don’t have to wait till 2010 (or whenever plugin hybrids become available in mass production). You can start saving environment now!

Does plug-in hybrid car really save money?

Chevy Volt PHEV

I have long repeated in conversations with my friends that my next car will work “off of electric outlet”. Let’s get down to earth however and examine what financial benefits the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) actually offers besides the cool factor of investing into green technology and saving environment. Are we bargain hunters or what? ;-)

I will use GM Volt as the basis

GM is probably closer than any other US automaker to delivering their version of PHEV, the Volt. And so I will base my calculations off of the numbers I dug out for this car.

Volt is claimed to be capable of going up to 40 miles on electric charge. Assuming average electricity rates these first 40 miles will cost you around $0.85 (source). If you don’t recharge it, the car will yield around 50 mpg for the rest of the trip (going on gasoline).

Annual savings of owning PHEV

I used the numbers above and compiled a table of annual savings of driving Volt compared to a gasoline car with fuel efficiency of 30 MPG (want to know how? Here is the excel spreadsheet. Feel free to tweak it). For simplicity I assumed that you use the car for 250 work days in a year. Savings will be 20-40% more if you drive it more often (on weekends as well).

Gas price Daily commute (miles)
($/gallon) 30 40 50 60 70 80
$3.00 $590.63 $787.50 $887.50 $987.50 $1,087.50 $1,187.50
$3.50 $715.63 $954.17 $1,070.83 $1,187.50 $1,304.17 $1,420.83
$4.00 $840.63 $1,120.83 $1,254.17 $1,387.50 $1,520.83 $1,654.17
$4.50 $965.63 $1,287.50 $1,437.50 $1,587.50 $1,737.50 $1,887.50
$5.00 $1,090.63 $1,454.17 $1,620.83 $1,787.50 $1,954.17 $2,120.83

Where do I stand on this table?

I live around 15 miles from work (30 miles daily commute) and gas prices in the area are currently at $3 per gallon. This brings me to the top left corner of the table with annual savings of $590.63.

If GM sets the price for Volt at around $30,000 (as they say they might) it will mean that I will have to own my Volt for over 10 years before it recoups approximately $8,000 premium I will have to cash out for it compared to a regular car. I am not even sure Volts are designed to last that long…

Is plug-in hybrid really worth it?

Financially… Not at gas prices of $3. For my commute (30 miles) the breaking point will probably be $5 per gallon. I will then know for sure that I will be able to recoup the premium I pay for PHEV in approximately 5 years. If gasoline prices go up then I will start saving sooner.

Do you plan to buy PHEV when they become available? What is your breaking point? Please take this poll and let me know.

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