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Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)

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Do eco-friendly cars have ‘hidden’ costs? Two people in the business answer some common queries about hybrids.

THE Budget 2011 announcement on tax incentives for hybrid cars below 2.0 litres dangles like a juicy carrot before many who have never considered buying such eco-friendly cars.

A Toyota Prius which used to cost RM175,000 is now available for RM139,900, while the Honda Civic Hybrid, at RM108,980, is cheaper by RM21,000.

The reduced prices are definitely attractive, but many prospective buyers are debating whether what they save from the purchase price, lower petrol costs (by 30%-40%) and lower emissions will outweigh the cost of getting a hybrid.

Although hybrid technology has been commercialised for more than 10 years, there is still the fear of expensive bills should the electrical component of the hybrid system break down prematurely.

Besides the 1.8-litre Prius and 1.3-litre Civic Hybrid, Porsche is offering its Cayenne S Hybrid although the 3.0-litre hybrid sports utility vehicle does not qualify for the incentives and costs a whooping RM720,000.

According to news reports, Proton is planning to have its version of such cars soon.

All eyes will on Honda Malaysia’s entry-level and affordable hybrid – the Insight – which will be launched at next month’s Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show.

In view of growing interest in hybrids, we spoke to UMW Toyota Motor president Kuah Kock Heng and Honda Malaysia head of sales and marketing Takeshi Hirano about buying such vehicles.

Do your hybrid cars offer a value-for-money package compared with a petrol-powered models of a similar size and performance?

Kuah: With the total reduction in import and excise duties for hybrid cars below 2,000cc, the new on-the-road price of the Prius is definitely more appealing. Owning a Prius gives customers the added feel-good factor of reducing CO2 emissions through better fuel efficiency.

Hirano: The Civic Hybrid will appeal to Malaysians who are eco-conscious and appreciate innovation and advanced technology, while not compromising on design and driving pleasure. The driving feel and maintenance costs of this car are similar to that of any other Honda vehicle.

How long is the warranty for the hybrid battery?

Kuah: The manufacturer’s warranty for the vehicle, including the hybrid system and battery, is three years/100,000km, whichever comes first, like that of all vehicles purchased from UMW Toyota Motor. Based on our experience in the United States, the largest hybrid vehicle market in the world, Toyota has not replaced a single battery due to wear and tear since the Prius went on sale in 2000.

Hirano: The factory warranty for the battery is the same for all countries, three years or 100,000km, whichever comes first.

What is the track record of the lifespan of the hybrid batteries in your vehicles?

Kuah: The Prius have been used as taxis since 2000, beginning in North America, and they operate under the harshest conditions with frequent starts/stops, low speed driving, and long idling. The taxis with the highest mileage have clocked more than 400,000km without any hybrid component failure.

In Australia, the Prius taxi with the highest reported mileage was 550,000km, and it only needed a battery replacement at 500,000km due to a low voltage reading.

Hirano: The first generation Civic Hybrid was launched in 2004 and until today, these cars are still using the original batteries.

Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)

How much would it cost to replace a hybrid battery in Malaysia?

Kuah: With today’s exchange rate and duty structure, it will be RM11,500.

Hirano: RM12,000. There’s a 15% discount for customers who purchase the battery from authorised Honda dealers.

Where can hybrid cars be serviced?

Kuah: The Prius can be serviced at all our authorised service centres nationwide.

Hirano: All technicians at authorised Honda service centres are qualified to service the Civic Hybrid. Hybrid cars need regular service, such as oil changes, but not more frequently than other cars.

There are no used hybrid cars in the market yet, but would your model command a high resale value compared with the petrol models?

Kuah: Customers have always been confident about Toyota brand and quality. With our good after-sales support, any customer would be willing to own a pre-owned Prius. We are confident the Prius will become a popular hybrid vehicle, which will lead to a better resale value.

Hirano: Honda vehicles have always enjoyed a high resale value. We are dedicated to customer satisfaction in all that we do. Thus, we are confident the Civic Hybrid will be able to maintain a high resale value, just like any other Honda model.


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Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)
Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)
Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)
Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)
Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)
Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)

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