When Will We See Hybrid Motor Homes?
If you are hoping to reduce costs by buying a hybrid motor home in the near future, you had better not hold your breath. If such a vehicle does become available, you may need to have deep pockets. While an electric/gas hybrid may very well cut your fuel consumption substantially, you will probably never reach a ROI (return on investment). In fact you will probably lose big time.
Basically, this is the way they operate. They are propelled by either an electric motor or a gasoline engine, depending on the current circumstances. The battery pack only receives a charge while the vehicle is coasting or braking. When additional power is required, the gas engine takes over. While the gas engine is propelling the vehicle, no charge is supplied to the batteries. The gas engine will actually shut off, if and when it is not required, for example at a stoplight. It will restart automatically when needed.
Many hybrid automobiles today are basically short time vehicles, or better put, disposable. This is largely due to the cost of the prime battery pack that powers the vehicle while it is in the electric propulsion mode. These batteries generally are covered by a 100,000 mile warranty and can cost anywhere from about $3,500 to $8,000 to replace. The suggested life of the battery packs are anywhere from 8 to 10 years, based on 10,000 to 12,000 miles per year. Higher yearly mileage would of course reduce this. When this vehicle reaches 10 years old it would be doubtful that it would have a value worth replacing the battery pack, not to mention other components. So, it would probably be considered scrap.
The cost to purchase an average hybrid is around $5,000 more than that of a conventional vehicle. Based on a Toyota Camry, the hybrid will use about $500 less fuel for 12,000 miles as compared to a straight gas powered unit. That alone would take 10 years to recover the extra cost. Add to that, the car may well have no resale value at that time.
It is for the above reason that few lease companies will ever handle today’s hybrid offerings. The resale, even after a three year lease, may be questionable. They are today, a great unit for the environment, but a costly vehicle in the long run for the owner.
So, now let’s apply this to a motor home. Well, first off, we will need a lot more battery power. This would probably require anywhere from 6 to 10 times more than that of a relatively light hybrid automobile. The battery replacement could run $40,000 to $60,000, or more. The capital purchase costs may increase $80,000 to $100,000, or more. I would doubt the batteries would last 10 years, perhaps 8 if they were driven low mileage and were carefully maintained. Well, 8 years old, and the batteries require replacement? What’s the unit worth? Maybe nothing.
Well, maybe the auto market will slowly switch to a 10 year vehicle life. If the vehicles worked well and were priced right, it might fly. But, I doubt we will see people scrapping an 8 or 10 year old RV, that’s just not going to happen.
Don’t take me wrong, the development to date of hybrid autos is remarkable, and certainly reduces the fuel consumption. It is unquestionably a greener way to drive, but I don’t believe it is a cheaper form of transportation. Some people may drive one to aid the environment regardless of costs, others because they are under the false belief that it is cheaper. Regardless, the future developments and our reliance on oil will bring more cost efficient vehicles to the market place in the near future.
With a Green View - Lug_Nut - Peter Mercer