5 Reasons Not to Buy a Hybrid

Announcer: They're behind the wheel and under the hood on everything automotive, with High Speed Stuff from HowStuffWorks.com.

Scott: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Scott Benjamin, the auto editor here at HowStuffWorks.com.

Ben: The deuce.

Scott: The deuce, yeah.

Ben: And I'm Ben, apparently, Oilcan -

Scott: Oilcan was the last one, yeah.

Ben: Yeah, or alternative Chops.

Scott: I like Chops. I think I like - I'd almost like to go with the full pork chop on that one though.

Ben: It's cool. It makes me feel like I have a - you remember that song Convoy, by C.W. McCall?

Scott: Yeah.Ben: I feel like I'm in -

Scott: You've got a handle is what you're saying.

Ben: Yeah, I've got a handle, that's right.

Scott: Yeah, Rubber Duck.

Ben: I'm warning people about the bears.

Scott: Yeah.

Ben: But all that aside, as much as I'm enjoying this nickname thing - and you know what? We should ask listeners to suggest some nicknames too.

Scott: Yeah, I like Oilcan.

Ben: Yeah, I like Oilcan, actually.

Scott: I think there's just a ring to Ben Pork Chop Bowlin.

Ben: You know, I've been called that before. No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I have been only by you.

Scott: Yeah, that was just a couple weeks ago.

Ben: But the thing, I still don't think we're there with the nickname The Deuce because it has V in front of it, and it's hard to refer to in conversation, but let me catch you up real quick before we get into this. You remember earlier we had to play a little bit of the opposite of Devil's advocate and we had to give five reasons to buy a hybrid car, based on an excellent article written by your friend and mine, John Fuller, and we stayed away from some of the negative stuff, but did promise a sequel.

Scott: Yeah, and sequel is here. We're going to do five reasons to not buy a hybrid today. And this was by another writer, a different writer, which I find an interest in. So John didn't write both articles, 5 Reasons to Buy and 5 Reasons to Not Buy. This one is by Kristen Hall-Geisler, and she's a freelance writer that writes for us often here in the Auto Channel. She has a little different take on this as far as countdown of reasons why not to. They don't exactly mirror John's reasons, five reasons to buy it. It's not an exact back-and-forth on every issue, so a lot of these are in a different order, but you'll see some of the same themes come back up.

Ben: And i t's an interesting comparison because both of these, if you pay attention to the titles, both of these are just naming factors for or against buying hybrid. Neither of these have something, like, "Buy a hybrid now," or, "Never buy a hybrid."

Scott: Oh, no, this is just a point/counterpoint.

Ben: Just things to consider.

Scott: Uh-huh, sure.

Ben: All right, let's start off small. You want to go from No. 5?

Scott: Let's do it.

Ben: All right.

Scott: All right, No. 5. You're making a chugging motion with your hands like a train or something. That's cool.

Ben: I'm really enjoying this. I'm into it. I've got so much coffee in my system right now.

Scott: All right, let's start out with No. 5 here, higher initial cost.

Ben: It is too true, all too true.

Scott: They're several thousand dollars more than a conventional version of the same car, so you do pay a premium up front for a hybrid vehicle. Now, you might say that there's federal tax credits. We talked about that in the last episode as well that you can get these $3,400 tax credits, or up to $3,400, right, but a lot of those have already gone away, which I had mentioned, and that goes away after the 60,000 vehicle has been sold of that make and mode.

Ben: And that started just in 2006.

Scott: Correct.

Ben: And the popular models have sold well past that number.

Scott: Definitely, yeah. I mean, they're selling; I want to guess, in the millions at this point, so they're long beyond the federal tax credit for some models. I'm sure if you search around you're going to find some that you still can get that $3,400 back, or maybe slightly less on that sliding scale that I mentioned. But yeah, if you're going just for the federal tax credit or trying to just buy a cheap car to begin with, cheap new car, hybrid might not be the way to go because you do pay that premium upfront. So all right, that's No. 5.

Ben: That, you know, I don't know where the rest of these are going because that's a pretty big deal to me.

Scott: Yeah, the next one kinda ties into that exactly, recouping that cost. So recouping the extra cost because a lot of people, when they buy a hybrid, they say, "Well, I'll make it up at the fuel pump," right?

Ben: Yeah, right away. Next week, I am going to make $3,000, even if I didn't spend that much in gas to begin with." I'm sorry.

Scott: Very nice. I was going to let you go as long as you wanted to.

Ben: No, I think we've done enough damage here.

Scott: Why don't you do the rest of the episode like that?

Ben: Because I'm not that guy.

Scott: Okay, all right.

Ben: That's the coffee speaking. That is the coffee [inaudible].

Scott: All right, so people say they're going to make it up at the pump.

Ben: Sure, not likely. Well, possible.

Scott: It's possible, but it does take several years, in many cases, just to break even. That's including normal maintenance and everything else that goes along with owning a car, insurance and everything, the payments. But to make it up strictly in fuel costs, which a lot of people have this idea that they're going to make it up maybe even in the same year, that's not the case. And fuel prices would have to be ridiculously high in order to make it up because, when fuel prices increase, the amount of time it takes to make the money back does come down. But like right now, a lot of people - let's say back in summer of 2008, fuel prices were up above $4.00 a gallon in a lot of places. Then it was a lot easier to figure that, "Hey, I'll make a lot of money if I buy a hybrid and I get two times the average of what I'm getting now in my car." The savings add up quickly in that case. Now that prices have adjusted back down to, I mean, I don't know what I'm going to say here, probably $2.50 a gallon, $2.60 a gallon, you could see where it would take an awful lot longer to make up that difference when you're talking thousands of dollars, just saving whatever that amount would be. I don't have all the numbers in front of me because I didn't figure out a whole -

Ben: I mean, the concept is the important part here and I completely agree. One interesting argument somebody could make as a counterpoint would be to say that perhaps we have a Yankee bias here, an American bias, because it is cheaper to buy gas here than it is in some other countries. And so maybe in other countries we can see that that relationship between gas prices and recoup investment more clearly, maybe in a place that has heavy taxation, but necessarily here.

Scott: I understand what you're saying, but I'm going to read a few numbers to you here. Not many, just a few, but there's a couple of examples that come right from the article. They show the difference between the standard vehicle, the standard gasoline powered vehicle and the hybrid version of the same vehicles, same year, make, model. So the first one I'll read to you is the 2009 Chevy Malibu and the Malibu hybrid. There's a price difference of $2,100. Actually, more than that, just a little bit. Between the Honda Civic sedan and the Honda Civic hybrid, there's a $6,100 difference.

Ben: Wow.

Scott: And if you go to the Toyota Camry, there's about a $7,000 difference.

Ben: $7,000?

Scott: 2010 Toyota Camry, if you buy the hybrid version, there's a $7,000 difference. And if you go up to the Ford Escape, the hybrid Escape is $11,000 more than the standard hybrid Escape.

Ben: $11,000?

Scott: $11,000, that's -

Ben: You could buy a regular version of that model and another car.

Scott: I will give an even more extreme example.

Ben: Oh, lay it on me.

Scott: This is Lexus. Lexus makes a hybrid. You know Lexus is the luxury make model. They have an LS600H hybrid, which costs more than $100,000; that's the sticker price. So this is a big time big luxury vehicle, a big V-8 power, really cool car. With gas prices relatively low, it would take 102.6 years to make up the difference in just fuel savings alone on that vehicle.

Ben: Wow.

Scott: So if you think you're going to own that Lexus for 102.6 years, then maybe you'll break even at that point, that's a good idea, but again, 102.6 years. Now that's the difference between buying this hybrid vehicle, the 600H hybrid, and an LS600H - I'm sorry, an LS460L, which apparently is comparable in that arena. So if the prices fall, that time gets even longer. If the prices go up, it becomes less, but you're still talk ing about, right now, about a ballpark 102 years.

Ben: That's absolutely, I mean, that's absolutely nuts and, you know what, I would say that - not to be too much of a party pooper - I'll see you on gas savings and I will raise you maintenance costs to keep - because cars can become more and more expensive to run for not even that long. Can you imagine?

Scott: That's a very good point.

Ben: Keeping a car, how much is it going to cost you to keep that Lexus running to the point where you can save gas money for even 50 years?

Scott: Yeah, yeah, that's right. I mean, look at a car that's 50 years old right now. That car is used in parades and special events. You take it out and you take it to the shop to be fixed, and then bring it back to your garage and polish it again, so that's really a daily driver. It's not something that you continually gain on, like we're talking about. So these cars where it takes even, let's say, I think we had examples in our earlier podcast, I believe, where the examples was 20 years, and that wasn't terribly uncommon. I mean, I don't know what the dollar amount was, I just forget. But if it takes 20 years for a car to become, I guess, equal or in the black, man, you've got to be right on top of maintenance to keep it running as if it were the day that it was new, or with the comparable version with a gasoline engine. So I don't know. It's kind of a give and take on this one.

Ben: It's a touch calculation, but also to be fair, clearly, when somebody - most people who are purchasing a hybrid are motivated by other factors. The financial factor is oftentimes seen as icing on the cake. Icing on the cake of environmental concerns, right.

Scott: Very good, yes, nice sum-up there, summary, summation.

Ben: You know what? All three of them, my some-thing.

Scott: Yeah, that's right. So let's move on.

Ben: Let' move.

Scott: Let's move on, we've been talking about money long enough. Clean diesel gets great gas mileage, so that's a reason. You can buy a clean diesel vehicle and it will get comparable gas mileage to a hybrid vehicle right now.

Ben: Now, we haven't talked too, too much about clean diesel, so just real quick.

Scott: It's kind of a European style of diesel car and truck. I guess European only because they use a lot of diesel products over there. So the fuel saving, diesel fuel operated engines are a lot more efficient than a lot of hybrids these days, and I can give you a couple of examples right out the article again. If you're looking at highway - now, they may not do quite as well in the city as hybrids do, but there's a reason behind that too. On the highway though, the Volkswagen Jetta TI diesel and the BMW 335D, diesel, each get 41 and 36 on the highway respectively. So 41 miles per gallon for the Volkswagen Jetta, 36 miles per gallon for the BMW, and that is behind - actually, that's above all but two of the hybrids that are out there right now, which are the Prius and the Insight.

Ben: I'm going to start commenting as though you're starting a fight with hybrids. Ready?

Scott: Okay, go. Well, no, listen. Yeah, the diesel vehicles, I guess, get fantastic highway mileage. They get reasonable city mileage. Those two vehicles get 30 and 23 city mileage as well, so that's not bad, but the reason that the hybrid vehicles get better city mileage is because of that electric motor. Now, these diesel vehicles that we're talking about, there are diesel hybrid vehicles, which are just really efficient, but we're talking about a standard clean diesel engine here. Those vehicles get great fuel mileage because the - I'm sorry, I'm talking about the hybrids. The hybrids get -

Ben: The diesel hybrids.

Scott: Well, just the hybrids in general, they get fantastic city mileage because of the electric motor, and oftentimes they're running without even operating the gasoline-powered motor.

Ben: Yeah, because it's below that threshold speed, right.

Scott: Yeah, that's right, so they're operating at low speed and a lot of times the gasoline engine doesn't even kick in or whatever, or it's being assisted by the electric motor. And in that case, it's even more efficient. Well, a little bit more efficient, but -

Ben: But still, diesel is - you know, I think here in the States a lot of people have an image of diesel as sort of a dirtier fuel.

Scott: Not so.

Ben: Not so.

Scott: Not so.

Ben: Not so, my friend.

Scott: In fact, in a lot of cases, they are cleaner in a lot of cases and that's because they have particular filters. It's like an extra filtration system that actually burns off its residue. That's another show but - have we already done that?

Ben: Yeah, we have. We've done octane.

Scott: We might have touched on that.

Ben: We touched on it.

Scott: Yeah, there's - we'll have to do something about diesel fuel pretty soon, but they do have that image of being dirty and smelly, and noisy. Not the case anymore.

Ben: That is incorrect.

Scott: Yeah, incorrect. So check out the EPA numbers on those and you'll find out some surprising things!

Ben: This is good. So far, man, I, now that we're a little past the midway on this, I am more persuaded by this than I was 5 Reasons to Buy.

Scott: Are you really? Am I swaying it back and forth on this? Really?

Ben: Well, yeah, because -

Scott: Or were you always kinda leaning towards maybe not?

Ben: I was originally, before we really started investigating hybrids, I will be honest with you, I wanted one. I thought it was a great idea. I was one of those people that I made a funny voice about earlier.

Scott: You can't say, "Those people."

Ben: I can't. I can't, you're right. I shouldn't, but I did.

Scott: You mean hybrid owners.

Ben: No. You know what though? I think a lot of people, again, who are buying hybrids, are not worried about what I was thinking. I wanted a hybrid for the wrong reasons, so with utmost support and continual respect for people who do plan to buy hybrids - I don't know. Maybe No. 2, maybe No. 1 will change my mind. Maybe it'll get me back on the hybrid team, but let's see No. 2.

Scott: Back on the hybrid team? I'm telling you reasons not to.

Ben: I know, I know, I know, but that's our thing, that's our chemistry that I'll just run out and disagree with you.

Scott: Just whatever I say, you're just going to say no. All right, fuel economy depends on driving style, that's No. 2. Fuel economy depends on driving style. So let's say they get a hybrid and it gets good city mileage better than it does on the highway. However, you've got a heavy foot.

Ben: You've got a lead foot.

Scott: You've got a lead foot, yeah, and you're continually using the - you're not using the electric motor, but you're using the gasoline motor to start jackrabbit starts from the light, et cetera. You're using a smaller engine to try to go faster. It's not going to work anyways, but you're going to end up burning through more fuel than you would have if you had done, of course, a slow start or if you'd had a standard vehicle with a standard gasoline-powered engine and just taking it easy on the fuel. That's kinda the gist of that is that your driving style.

Ben: That's a really good point.

Scott: Also, you've got to remember that the city driving, it's critical for a hybrid owners and their mileage numbers. They have to be able to have that element of it. Otherwise, if they're doing all highway driving, they're not going to see the return that they thought they were on this. They're not going to get the mileage that they though.

Ben: That's a good point.

Scott: It's less on the highway in many cases. There may be one out there now that I don't really know. I'd have to look into it and find out what the latest EPA numbers are, but really, hybrids are fantastic around the city. On the highway, to a point, they're not as good.

Ben: And to your point, it really does depend. Somebody cannot jump out of a Mustang and then jump into a smaller model hybrid and expect to drive the same way with the same results.

Scott: Yeah, and the other thing is that - and I don't mean to say that they're bad on the highway; I don't mean that at all. My point is that you can get a comparable vehicle, if you're looking for a small, efficient vehicle that gets reasonable city mileage and fantastic highway mileage, you can get a Smart Fortwo. That's the example that was used in the article, I believe. And the Smart Fortwo, now, this is just gasoline powered car, it's not a hybrid. It gets 41 miles per gallon on the highway. And that's the EPA number, so you can probably get more if you were to stretch it, but that's better than all but the top two of the hybrids again, the Prius and the Insight. So reasonable, and that just a standard engine vehicle with gasoline power, two-seater of course, Smart Fortwo!

Ben: Right, that's a disadvantage.

Scott: But again, I mean, you're not talking about paying that premium upfront for the hybrid technology. How are you feeling?

Ben: I'm feeling. I'm going to withhold judgment. Take me to the top of the mountain here.

Scott: The last one, this one may hit you because you drive that big plush Monte Carlo, don't you?

Ben: I do. I do and I enjoy it, and they will take the keys from my cold dead hands or from the hands that are not holding a set of hybrid keys.

Scott: I understand, all right. Well, maybe this will change your mind then.

Ben: All right.

Scott: Fewer creature comforts. So you buy a hybrid, you're not sitting in the lap of luxury like you would be in your Monte Carlo.

Ben: It is a comfortable car.

Scott: I bet it is.

Ben: It's basically a La-Z-Boy on wheels.

Scott: That's very nice. That's a good way to look at it, like, you're driving a big couch down the road, right.

Ben: Kinda, yeah.

Scott: Cool.

Ben: So wait, go back over this though. You're talking about - now, I don't have a super nice car. I don't have heated leather seats, I don't have preset adjustments for the drivers and stuff, but that probably [inaudible].

Scott: Well, that's not happening in a hybrid car either, so maybe you're an equal match here, but when you pay - remember we said that there's a premium you pay for hybrid vehicles.

Ben: Yes.

Scott: So you'd think that you have a loaded vehicle if you're paying $7,000 or $11,000 more for this vehicle. Not the case because you're paying for the technology.

Ben: You're purely paying for the technology, for the nuts and bolts of it.

Scott: You're paying for the development of the technology and you're paying for - they're making up the cost that it cost the corporation to build that vehicle.

Ben: I see.

Scott: You're making that up vehicle-by-vehicle when you purchase it.

Ben: You're making up R & D, basically.

Scott: Yeah, exactly. So you're paying for the technology; you're not paying for the extra luxuries. Not to say that you can't get things like that in the hybrid vehicles, but you're going pay additional for those on top of that premium that you already pay. So you can get the leather steering wheel and you can also get the leather seats, and you can get the, I don't know, the heated and cooled seats, whatever you want, but it's going to cost you a lot more.

Ben: I think that's a very sad thing to hear. Okay, go ahead, no.

Scott: Oh, no, I was just going to say that they also have - there's a feel difference. You've got that big solid feel probably in your car. I bet it's a pretty sturdy road car, right?

Ben: Yeah, you can hear it purring and it also has - it can take a bump pretty well. It has that - remember when we were talking about luxury cars, how there's a certain silence that comes on when you close the door?

Scott: Yes.

Ben: I'm happy to say that car has that.

Scott: Oh, very good, very good. Might not be the case in a hybrid.

Ben: Man.

Scott: Because it's all about the efficiency and all about the technology that's involved in it right now. Now, there's examples of the Lexus that we were talking about, of course that's going to be silent inside. It's going to be whisper quiet, I guess, and there's a lot of other cars that are similar, that are a little bit more on the quiet side, but for the most part, they're going to have a different feel on the road. That's because they often have smaller tires, which are harder tires as well because they're those low rolling resistance tires, and that's for additional mileage. Everything's about efficiency, so they're a harder compound than some of the softer tires that you'll find on sports cars or sedans even. There's also idle stop technology, which may take, it depends on the system, the car that you have, but that may take a little getting used to because there are times when that can feel - and I don't have the experience with t his, but they -

Ben: They feel like the car's turned off?

Scott: Yeah, it's, like, you can feel it turn on and off, and if that's something that's upsetting to you, that may be something that takes time to adjust to. Other ones are smoother, yeah.

Ben: You're going to enjoy this. So I think I mentioned earlier that my mom purchased a hybrid. My mom and dad did, and it's been sorta my mom's vehicle. It's her daily ride and that is one of the things that freaked her out the most for three to four days. Every time she went to a stoplight or a stop sign, she kinda thought that the engine was dead, even though the dealer warned her.

Scott: Well, all the old cars that I've had, if you pull up to the light and you don't hear anything, there's something wrong, so that's what she's thinking about is that those older vehicles were - you stop and suddenly the engine stops, you're in trouble.

Ben: I have a point that is not on this list that I think should be on this list, and then I have a little question for you. First, let's go into this because I really want your opinion on this. The one aspect of hybrid technology currently that really - because all of this, I've been slightly facetious. These five points are good points, but there are counterarguments, and we've examined some of those earlier in the earlier episode, but to me, the big deal here is that if - as we said, people are buying hybrid vehicles because they are concerned about the environment more so than they are about saving money. We've kinda implicitly accepted that argument. Then one thing that's escaping us is that hybrid vehicles make up for their use, make up for their efficiency with gas by using electricity. And in the United States, I think we talked about this off air, our electric plants are coal powered. So if you think about it, these cars are, in some ways, coal and gas powered cars.

Scott: Sure, coal-powered cars, yeah.

Ben: Do you think I'm going too far with that?

Scott: No, no, I agree. I mean, that's a debate that's ongoing right now is how much electricity is this going to take to operate this. Now, there's ways to make clean electricity, there's hydropower, there's also nuclear power.

Ben: Sure, solar power.

Scott: Solar power, yeah, you can do solar power, that's a little less, and there's wind power. I mean, there's all kinds of ways to make electricity, but yeah, for the most part, a lot of the - at least here in the United States, a lot of it, and I forget the percentage, but there's a real high percentage of the factories where the electricity comes from, the plants, that are coal-fired. And why do you think you see all those trains with just car after car, after car of coal coming out of Kentucky and Tennessee, and those areas? It's still vital for everything to operate, everything to work. So yeah, in a way, I guess these cars are coal and gasoline powered, really, if you want to get right back down to it.

Ben: Well, because of, I guess, the origin of it and I feely admit that in places where the coal is not the element powering the plants, as you've mentioned, alternative energy, makes it a completely different argument.

Scott: Yeah, it's highly efficient in that case, yeah.

Ben: In that case, I've got one question for you before we close this out. All right, I know that you don't think that hybrids are going to save the world, Scott, let's just be upfront about that.

Scott: Yeah.

Ben: What would it take for you to buy a hybrid vehicle?

Scott: You know, I think that it would take the performance aspect to come back in. We talked about that, I think, in the last one, the last episode that Honda, what did I call it, a CR -

Ben: A CR-Z.

Scott: A CR-Z, yeah, something like that. And I think once that veh icle arrives, hopefully there'll be more that are like that, there'll be some competition and it'll just start to go up from there. The horsepower will go up, the 0 to 60 times will go up, the materials that they use will be lighter and faster, and I don't know. I just think there's going to be something good about competition in that arena, in the performance arena. And hopefully hybrid vehicles will become not only more efficient, at the same time; they'll also be better performers.

Ben: In the all-electric vehicle field, that's works pretty well for Tesla.

Scott: Yeah, those are unbelievably quick cars.

Ben: Greased lightening.

Scott: Yeah, they are, but they're all electric and that's the point is that they're all electric, so they use just electric motors, and they're very - they've got a lot of torque. A very torquey motor and it's instantly available. Now, with a hybrid car, you've got a small electric motor and a small gas motor, so the problem is that tradeoff. Now if you make a bigger gasoline motor, then what's the point of having a hybrid motor at all? And if you make it a bigger electric motor, what's the point of having the gasoline part of that unless it's just to charge the batter for the electric part? So in a way, that would make sense, but then again, you're carrying around the extra weight of, let's say, a half-liter gasoline-powered engine. So there's a lot of tradeoffs, but the electric, all-electric thing, those cars are pretty quick.

Ben: So for you it would have to be performance.

Scott: I think so, yeah. What about you? What would be the turning point for you? What would make you want to buy a hybrid car?

Ben: Really, we already live in the city, so for me if the price was comparable from the offset. If the price was comparable, excuse me there -

Scott: Now you got it.

Ben: - I think would make me consider buying a hybrid. But the problem is, given the upfront cost, given the time it takes to recoup that cost, and given the, again, I think I mentioned this in an earlier episode, the fact that it is new technology. It's new technology that is quickly evolving, so that has a good point in that we know that it will improve, but also has a negative point in that we know it's going to be - okay. You know how when you buy a computer, you can pretty much bet that two and a half years from now that computer is going to be considered old.

Scott: Yeah, two and a half months.

Ben: Yeah, exactly. And I think that in hybrid technology we're getting into that sorta cycle. So that's, if I knew that I could get something that would be solid, would be around a long time and would cost about the same as an internal combustion.

Scott: Well, the Insight is getting close to that with that $19,800 intro price.

Ben: Yeah, yeah, that's true.

Scott: But you're getting the bare bones model there and there's not much frill to that one at all. There's not much there. You have to upgrade from that point which would increase the cost, of course, but I mean, one other quick thing that I'll mention is the styling. I know why they're styled the way they are. They have to be aerodynamic. Everything about them is about efficiency. I mean, I just can't get over the current design because to me, and I know a lot of people argue with this, but they all look the same for the most part.

Ben: That's true.

Scott: It's tough to differentiate them on the road. I mean, other than there's some that - the Camry looks just like the regular Camry, I guess, that's different, but the Insight and the Prius, they have a very similar look to me, and I can't tell the difference between the generations of those. It's really tough, but once they get to the point where the style becomes a little more important, they can still be aerodynamic, but I don't know, I'm just not crazy about the look of them right now.

Ben: What if they named a model after you? What if they came out with a hybrid called the GM Scott Benjamin? Not sweet?

Scott: Yeah, yeah, I don't even know where to go with that. That's crazy.

Ben: I know where to go. How about listener mail?

Scott: Sounds good.

Ben: All right, so, Scott, we have a listener mail here from Tim. And Tim is kind of a globetrotter, and he's writing about the Survival Kit thing we did earlier.

Scott: Wait, he's a Globetrotter?

Ben: I would call him a globetrotter.

Scott: Awesome. I saw those guys in the 1970s.

Ben: I don't remember.

Scott: They were really, really cool, Meadowlark Lemon, Curly, those guys, is that what you're talking about, red, white and blue basketball?

Ben: You know what, I'm not going to say it's impossible because although we do not talk about the Globetrotters of basketball, perhaps it's my error I meant to shout out Tim for the fact that he has lived in Michigan, Italy, Luxemburg, and Phoenix; I'm assuming Phoenix, Arizona.

Scott: That's way different.

Ben: You know what though; don't give him a hard time.

Scott: No, that's good, still good. I was just excited that we had a Globetrotter writing in.

Ben: I know. Maybe one day, but right now I think Tim's got a pretty excellent letter. He actually very politely pointed out that we might have had our wires crossed when we were talking about cold or hot weather in a survival situation. Because we talked about that poor unfortunately family up there in the Northwest, and then we talked about having the candle trick if you're in cold weather and stuff. And so Tim points out that he has been stranded for at least a day in all the places he's lived. In Italy and Luxemburg, he was able to walk somewhere over a couple nights during the winter. He had warm clothes, he was able to drink snow, and he made it out. He even spent four days trying to find a road one time.

Scott: Four days? Wow.

Ben: Uh-huh, but by contrast, he says, when he was living in Phoenix - and it must be Arizona - he was stranded in the desert outside Yuma for two days in August, and the temperature could - he even hit 115-plus. He had clothes, extra gas, two liters of water, and he still had to go to the hospital for sun poisoning and dehydration.

Scott: Oh, my gosh. So here's a guy that he's really prepared, he's totally prepared.

Ben: Yeah, he's got a good kit.

Scott: And he's saying that heat is worse than cold, which kinda counteracts what we said. We figured, we were just surmising, I guess, that cold weather would be better to be stranded in than hot weather; is that right? Oh, no, we said hot weather.

Ben: We said hot weather would be better, but -

Scott: Yeah, we said hot weather; he says cold.

Ben: Well, I think one of the things we were assuming the shade, but he makes a really good point there about the dehydration, and he also talks about how the heat there is juts vicious, man. Apparently, a kid dropped dead during football practice because of exposure .

Scott: Oh, man.

Ben: So to our listeners out there who are in the very hot environments of the U.S. and other places, again, please exercise caution.

Scott: Yeah, be ready.

Ben: Yeah, and thank you to Tim for writing in.

Scott: Yeah, no kidding. That's eye opening. I didn't know that it was that - seems like it's that much more dangerous than cold weather, but I guess both of them have their own perils.

Ben: Yeah, there's always that saying people have in the South versus the desert here in the States about it's a different kinda heat or whatever, but it's still heat.

Scott: Yeah, it's hot. I don't care if it's humid or not humid, but man, it's hot. It's just like opening an oven, it really is.

Ben: Yeah. I guess that wraps us up here for today. Again, thanks, Tim, and to our listeners, thanks for lending us an ear! If you guys have any questions or any suggestions for another topic, please send us an email at Highspeedstuff@howstuffworks.com.

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