In Summary
  • There are cars that run on petrol/diesel that will still return broadly similar consumption figures as a Prius, an overpromised, heartstring-tugging, Venus consumer flytrap whose economy rating had been grossly overhyped from the outset.
  • Get a small saloon car, sub-1500cc and drive like you are going to meet a creditor or to the dentist; your economy figures will be surprisingly pleasant.

Hi,

Thank you for the good work you are doing.

I would like some information on hybrid cars, specifically the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight.

Some of the issues I am not clear about are: 

1) Warranties for the batteries of these vehicles.

2 Their survival rate on Kenyan roads, considering they are already used.

3) Between the Prius and the Insight, which would you place your money on?

4) Considering fuel consumption, would it make any economic sense to buy one?

5) When it breaks down, can the batteries be replaced?

6) Compared with fully fuel-powered vehicles, is it advisable to buy one?

Jamal

 

Hello Jamal,

1) The warranties depend on the manufacturers.

2) What about Kenyan roads makes them more or less likely to survive compared to non-Kenyan roads? Do our roads cause more battery drain or less? If they are already used, don’t expect much from them.

Battery longevity is measured by, among other things, the number of charge cycles they undergo before becoming totally useless, so the amount of life left in them depends on how many times they were charged by previous/current owners.

3) None of the above. Both look unpleasant, both are underpowered and both are bought by lightly informed people who think they are doing the Earth a favour when they really aren’t.

Also, both were conceived when both the electric and hybrid motive technologies were fledgling, and they show their pioneering roots. Would you buy a PlayStation One if you got it on sale? Or a laptop from the early ‘90s? I didn’t think so.

If I want to go electric, I will get something contemporary, interesting and powerful, like a Tesla. The Model 3 has only just come out, at a cost of $44,000 (Sh4,532,000), which is “affordable”, considering what its Model S and Model X predecessors cost.

If I want a hybrid, I’ll probably look at the Prius’ more attractive Lexus siblings like the CT200h.

4) This really depends on your mileage. Of course electricity is cheaper than fossil fuel but some things, such as convenience, cannot be quantified directly. Range anxiety and the current lack of support infrastructure will make ownership of these futuristic wheels a veritable cross to bear, so the gains made by not buying fuel can easily be washed away by the frustration of being one of a kind in an industry that favours safety in numbers.

5) I am pretty certain the batteries can be replaced.

6) This goes back to (iv) above. It boils down to whether or not you really want one. Will driving one give you peace of mind that you have moved along with technology into the future? Will it assuage your conscience that you are not (knowingly) polluting the atmosphere? Will it sate a burning desire not to use fossil fuels anymore? Then go ahead.

However, if your ultimate goal is to save money, whether short-term or long-term, stick to internal combustion for now.

There are cars that run on petrol/diesel that will still return broadly similar consumption figures as a Prius, an overpromised, heartstring-tugging, Venus consumer flytrap whose economy rating had been grossly overhyped from the outset.

Get a small saloon car, sub-1500cc and drive like you are going to meet a creditor or to the dentist; your economy figures will be surprisingly pleasant.

 

Dear Baraza,

Help me understand how a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser 80 Series model with 200,000 km on its odometer, converted into a manual, would retail at over $25,000 (Sh2,575,000)! Is it just me or is that an exaggeration on the part of the seller? Would such a car even qualify as a vintage or a collector’s item to command such a price? Even with the warped Toyota resale values in this peculiar country of ours, that does seem quite a stretch for a car more than two decades old.

Mwaura wa Ngundi

 

The laws of supply and demand create strange and sometimes unforeseeable outcomes in the marketplace. To these two parameters add desirability, which might or might not be influenced by street cred and you can see where this is going.

The 80 Series keeps appreciating by the day, which is a good thing because it has reached a point where the 100 Series is well-nigh cheaper than its predecessor, and the 100 Series is the one I truly like.

That means I can almost afford one before people wise up and shift their focus to it, driving its price up like the 80.

The 80 is highly capable but I am on your side here: I don’t understand why I’d pay that much to get one. The 100 looks better, is faster, more comfortable, more economical, handles better and is just as capable off-road as the bulbous 80 (Yes, Landcruiser fanatics, I said it! The 105, to be specific, is just as capable as any old 80. Sit down!)

But the 80’s price remains high. There is the belief that this is the last of the truly analogue full-size 4x4s, which is true, so this little facet lends it the aura of collectability.

The car will also not break; it will run indefinitely year on year, which justifies its desirability for those who actually use them as they should: for unforgiving off-road adventures. But $25,000 (Sh2,575,000)? Really? I can find me a nice V8 Cygnus with similar mileage for that outlay...

There is another Toyota 80 that also commands high mark-ups on the used market for unmolested examples and has officially attained collector status, and that is the Toyota Supra RZ, the famous twin turbo “Mk IV” torque monster that, alongside the Nissan Skyline GTR, Honda NSX and Mazda RX7 FD3, had Europe rethinking their standing as sole purveyors of wedge-shaped time-warping road-going equipment.

The JZA80 Supra clocked 100km/h from standstill in four-and-a-half seconds and thundered on to a top speed of 285km/h... and that was in 1993. This easily placed it within Porsche and Ferrari territory, for the time. Toyota has not built anything as quick or as seminal since then; for that you have to look at its ritzy Lexus glitz department, and even then, it more likely than not will have an F in its name for it to qualify for membership into that rarefied atmosphere.

Given that the Supra suddenly found itself as a hot enhancement favourite courtesy of the joint pop culture influences of Need For Speed video games and the Fast and Furious movie franchise, you have a higher chance of being struck by a meteorite than you do getting a clean, stock example today.

It is highly desirable — the one and only Toyota to perform like an exotic is definitely something worth finding and keeping — and the numbers of uncrashed and unmodified cars are dwindling. As a result, just like its off-roading numerical namesake, punters are charging ridiculous amounts for well-kept samples – as high as $100,000 (Sh10.3 million), which is just insane. But unlike the bulbous truck, the Supra might well be worth the money, say Sh2,575,000, just not Sh10.3 million).

 

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