Hybrid Cars IQP
26 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
27 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4dr SUV 4WD (6.0L 8cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
28 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4dr SUV (6.0L 8cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
29 2009 GMC Yukon Hybrid 4dr SUV 4WD (6.0L 8cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
30 2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Grand Touring 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
31 2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid
32 2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Touring 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
33 2008 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
34 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Grand Touring 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
35 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid
36 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Touring 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
37 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
38 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
39 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD (2.3L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
40 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
41 2009 Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
42 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
43 2008 Nissan Altima Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
44 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
45 2008 Saturn Aura Hybrid Green Line 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
46 2009 Saturn Aura Hybrid 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
47 2008 Saturn VUE Hybrid Green Line 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
48 2009 Saturn VUE Hybrid 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 4A)
Figure 7: Federal Tax Credits for Hybrids
When purchasing a new vehicle, finances are greatly important, if not the most
important aspect when the customer is making their decision. People generally look for
numerous ways in which they can reduce the amount of money that they are spending. The
government has capitalized on this and began offering incentives for individuals, influencing
them into spending more money initially to purchase a hybrid vehicle in order to save money
later. Through online sources, articles, and dealerships, the variety of incentives and programs
can be analyzed. Through interviews with both sales representatives and customers, the
effectiveness of these government incentives can be determined. Talking to individuals who
have already taken advantage of these motivations determines if it was worth it for them to
spend the extra money initially. Speaking with customers that haven’t yet made a commitment
helps to determine if the incentives are successfully influencing people into making the decision
Hybrid Cars IQP
to buy a hybrid vehicle instead of a conventional car. The interviews with sale representatives
should give insightful opinions on whether or not the programs are beneficial or deceiving for
When hybrid vehicles were first introduced on the market, many associated them with
the Toyota Prius. Some individuals were attracted to the distinct style of the Prius as they
considered it a statement to society that they were concerned about the wellbeing of the
environment and the condition of the world in which we live. Since the Prius, much
advancement have been made and Hybrid vehicles are now available in numerous different
models to appeal to a wide variety styles and preferences of the target market, “ ‘One
important decision is the size of the vehicle." If you really, really need an SUV‐sized vehicle,
there are a number of hybrid SUVs that are on the market now or coming onto the market
soon,’ notes Berman.”
Instead of the Prius that doesn’t appeal to most, there are now more
conventional looking vehicles available as hybrid models, providing people options and
alternatives to choose a car that is best suited for them and their lifestyle.
Some may believe that the new hybrid vehicles are not as powerful as their
counterparts, their engines being significantly smaller than the engines of conventional
vehicles. When the hybrid was first introduced there were some reports of these new cars
being somewhat sluggish, however, over time as improvements have been made, there are
reports now that some hybrids are quicker than conventional cars, The engine in the hybrid car
is powerful enough to move the car along on the freeway, but when it needs to get the car
moving in a hurry, or go up a steep hill, it needs help. That "help" comes from the electric
motor and battery ‐‐ this system steps in to provide the necessary extra power.
smaller lighter engine, fewer cylinders, and lighter pistons and internal components, this makes
hybrid cars more fuel efficient. Also helping bridge the power gap between hybrid cars and
conventional cars are the materials that the vehicles are constructed out of, some hybrid cars
are constructed with ultra lightweight materials like carbon fiber or aluminum. Hybrid cars are
also designed to be more aerodynamic than most cars, allowing them to "slice" through air
instead of pushing it out of the way. All these factors combined equate to a super efficient form
Layton et al. 2008
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of car that gets excellent fuel economy and helps the environment by cutting down on
2.5 Widespread change to hybrid/electric instead of gasoline/diesel
The adoption of hybrid technology continues to rise, but the pace is still too minimal for
any changes in environmental issues or fuel demand to be seen. The market for hybrids is still
lacking in the number of vehicles and models available. Manufacturers are still developing and
improving on the hybrid technology that is still fairly recent. “It takes approximately fifteen
years for the automotive fleet to turn over in the US.”
This extended period of time makes for
a gradual change before a substantial amount of vehicles on the roads are hybrids.
With such a massive world population and high dependency on transportation, a
significant switch to hybrids from gasoline and diesel vehicles must be met before any changes
can be seen. In fact, we need “50‐80% of the car buyers worldwide adopt these new “low
carbon” technology automobiles to make a material difference.”
That number far exceeds
where we are at today. It will take many more years for a difference to be seen in the large
scale. Another goal of switching to hybrids is to decrease foreign dependence on oil. However
the reality is “the development and widespread use of full hybrid vehicles by 2030 will only
reduce world demand for transport fuel by 10%.”
A widespread change to hybrids requires an
extended period of time and also may not be cost effective. Many of the outcomes are not
worth all that goes into getting the advanced technology on the road.
Through our research on hybrid car technology, we explored many interesting topics.
From studying information about environmental effects, emissions, production and marketing
of hybrids we were able to understand a lot of the pros and cons associated with them, but it
raised some questions as well, such as how hybrids’ emissions compare to standard combustion
vehicle emissions, and at what point would the hybrid vehicles be worth the extra money, with
and without the incentives that come with purchasing one. We also investigated the topic of
Layton et al. 2008
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widespread change to different types of hybrid vehicles and how feasible this plan would be.
Our research has led us to look at the past, present, and future of cars on the roads, especially
hybrids. Due to the large variety and amount of questions that we could ask on this topic we
have had to cut down our scope a bit. We have selected a few main questions that we would
like to answer by the closing of this paper. At what point does a Hybrid make up for its cost?
What are people looking for when they are buying a car? What kinds of incentives are people
offered when buying hybrids? What are the differences in emission variations between
standard and hybrid cars? When are they recycled? What are the differences in materials used?
Is widespread conversion feasible?
Hybrid Cars IQP
The objectives of our paper were to analyze the process of making hybrid cars to see if
their production is as clean as their daily use, examine the various economic effects and routes
for converting combustion engine vehicles with alternative designs to see if widespread change
is feasible, and analyze marketing trends and changes associated with hybrid technology. We
used many different methods to gain access to the information we need to fully study these
topics. Secondary data, interviews, focus groups and many articles and online sources helped
us make educated conclusions to our project questions.
3.1 Quantitative Data Analysis
Hybrid vehicles are very complex machines that require more materials and work to
construct, compared to the standard combustion engine vehicle, due to the fact that they have
at least two sources of power. This being the case, one could think that it is only natural that
the construction of hybrids creates more harmful gasses than combustion engine vehicles,
however by what margin is seldom brought up in many relevant conversations and statistics.
We used the MIT study “On the Road in 2020”, which includes data on these topics, to help us
makes informed decisions about the ‘greenness’ of hybrids. Using this data, we compared
amounts of different materials used in cars, the energy consumption and emission levels used
in processing these materials, and the emission levels of cars. Series of calculations were made
in Microsoft Excel spread sheets in a precise sequence in order to produce accurate analysis.
This produced quantitative results that were used to generate graphs and comprehensive
displays, showing timelines on when hybrids becomes ‘greener’ than a regular ICE’s.
3.1.1 Energy Consumption Calculations
Our data included what materials go into certain types of cars. The data gave the mass
of each material per car as well as the total weight of the car. Our data also included how much
energy, in mega‐Joules, it takes to process every kilogram or each material. With this data we
found out how much energy it takes to produce each type of car.
The first set of calculations was to take each material and multiply its mass/car (kg/car)
by how much energy it takes to process each kilogram of that material (MJ/kg). This gave us
Hybrid Cars IQP
how much energy is used to produce enough of each material for one car. Next, we added up
all of the material energy usages to get a total amount of energy used to make the car. In our
data, we use two sets of energy consumption values; one for processing new raw material and
one for processing recycled materials. Calculations were done for all vehicles in our study and
both sets of processing data were used. By doing these calculations we were able to compare
quantitatively how much energy, for both primary and secondary processing, goes into making
each type of vehicle. An example of the calculation spreadsheet used for each car can be seen
Current, SI ICE, Gasoline, Auto
Wood, Felt, etc.
Figure 8: Calculation Spreadsheet for Energy Consumption
3.1.2 Breakeven Calculations
In today’s car market, many cars have a standard ICE model as well as a hybrid model.
In our study we compared many of these vehicles. Break even calculations let you know how
many miles need to be driven in order to make the premium price of a hybrid model beneficial.
Hybrid Cars IQP
For these calculations we needed to know, for both models, the price of the vehicle, its gas
mileage (both city and highway values were preferred), and then the price of gas (which can be
arbitrarily picked and changed to match the current pricing).
To find the breakeven point we had to set up an equation that took into account all of
our data at once. The equation compared gas mileage of the standard model to that of the
hybrid model and compensated for the increased price. The equation was then solved for the
mileage variable which was the same on both sides of the equation. This mileage was the
minimum mileage a person would have to drive, in the life of the vehicle, to make it monetarily
worth paying for the more expensive hybrid. This equation was used with different values of
gas mileage as well as three different types of driving habits. Calculations were done for the
following styles of driving: Strictly highway, strictly city, and a one to one ratio of both highway
and city driving. The equation used can be seen below.
(Mileage/MPG standard)*(Gas price) = (Mileage/MPG hybrid)*(Gas price) + (Price Difference)
Equation solved for “Mileage” to give the mileage of the Breakeven Point.
Figure 9: Breakeven Point Equation
3.2 Consumer Attitudes and Selling
One area of concern in our hybrid research involves the sales characteristics. We
specifically wanted to examine what points are stressed when marketing hybrids. Sales persons
must have some tools and guidelines that they use in order to attempt the sales of vehicles.
The marketing campaigns may be diverse for different manufacturers and sales divisions and
that is something we have considered. Most of the data used stems from interviews. These
interviews were done with sales people at car dealerships, as well as ones conducted within our
focus groups. A guideline of questions was prepared in order to make each interview
successful, providing us with substantial and useful data. Through examining the array of data
received, any commonalities in the ways in which sales people and dealerships market their
hybrids were determined.
Every individual buys a car for a reason. There are a vast amount of different styles
available and people buy what is appealing to them. What people look for when they are
Hybrid Cars IQP
buying a car is a significant phase in their overall decision making process. Whether it is a
hybrid or a conventional internal combustion engine, there must be a reason for the purchase.
Data found using our focus groups that consist of people who have bought a hybrid and those
who have recently bought an internal combustion vehicle was crucial to understanding what
different individual’s consider throughout their search. Once again, our questions were
prepared ahead of time, ensuring our data stays consistent with regards to the questions asked.
Using the data, we observed whether or not those who buy hybrids have similar reasons and
whether or not those who buy internal combustions have a common theme.
It has been stated earlier that converting the world’s population of combustion engine
vehicles to hybrid vehicles is theoretically illogical if not impossible due to the lack of resources
and time constraints. However, this does not mean that there are not areas or groups of people
that cannot make a significant impact on the environment by switching to hybrids. By studying
various public transportation statistics, such as the driving patterns of different households,
professions, locations, and environments from various sources, we determined where hybrid
cars could present the greatest efficient environmental impacts. Vehicles such as Taxis and
public busses would be prime examples of high impact vehicles due to their high mileage. This
way, people who are switching to hybrids can tell how much they are reducing their impact on
the environment compared to others who are living in different conditions. This would also be
an efficient way to determine where the optimal environmental areas to sell hybrids are, as
well as the general number that would be appropriate to sell there.
3.2.1 Interview with a Car Salesperson
Valuable marketing information was gained through personal interviews with car
salespeople and sale representatives. With numerous new models of hybrid and non hybrid
vehicles available, there are many new tactics for selling cars. Car dealers are experts in
understanding trends in car sales, whether they are hybrid or conventional vehicles, changes
and fluctuations in sales rates, which vehicles suit particular lifestyles better than others,
amongst many other important decision variables. The knowledge and information gathered
from these retailers was essential in accurately understanding the purchasing habits and
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desires of customers. We interviewed Ed Proko, co‐owner of Mill Street Motors and local used‐
car dealer, using a semi‐structured interview protocol.
Do you default to trying to sell ICE’s until someone asks about hybrid technology?
Are the sales rates of hybrids changing as more and more models of hybrids are being
What are the ratios of hybrids sold to ICE’s sold in the past couple of years? Are the yearly
Are people starting to trade in hybrids?
Do you have different marketing strategies for selling hybrids versus ICE’s?
What models of cars are currently selling the most?
What depreciation rates have you noticed on different vehicles, whether hybrid or ICE?
How do you anticipate what type of vehicles to stock your car lot with?
3.3 Focus Groups
The reasons why people do and don’t purchase hybrid vehicles are as diverse as the
number of cars on the road. For our research, it was imperative that we sorted out what the
most prominent of these reasons were so that we gained a better understanding of the
marketing of hybrids. In order to begin obtaining the necessary information we organized two
eight person focus groups. One group consisted of individuals who purchased a hybrid vehicle
within the last 12 months, and the other consisted of those who purchased a non‐hybrid in the
same time period. To make sure that things progressed as smoothly as possible, our IQP group
worked in conjunction with another group who was also focusing on hybrid vehicles.
In order to gather participants for our focus groups, we sent out an e‐mail to the faculty
and students of WPI, looking for those who fit the criteria of our desired categories with an
incentive to do join being a $25 American Express gift card. Those who were interested in our
groups were required to send us a reply email with some basic information about themselves
including the brand of car they purchased, when they bought it, their name, age, and contact
information. After going through all the replies, we selected people that we believed would be
the most beneficial to our study.
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Documents you may be interested