Sunday, February 26, 2006

Toyota Prius

I love our Prius. It's the best toy ever.
This was taken on 8/20/2005. Gas mileage = 59.4

The green bars show a graph of gas mileage over the last 30 minutes. (This trip ranging from high 60s to high 90s) Those little white/green blobs are supposed to be car-shapes. One symbol represents 50kilowats recharged back to the battery.

There are a few interesting things that happen when you get a Prius.

1) You start to plan your route according to the speed limit.
When you buy a Prius (or at least when we did) you want to save money by buying less gas. The Prius needs a little time to warm up (a couple miles) and then it's ready to turn off the engine and use battery power. That is, IF you're driving the right speed. Once you go over 35, the gas engine will kick in anyways. You find yourself searching out traffic routes that will give you the most 25 - 35 mph speed areas.

2) You start to drive a little slower in general.
After the engine is warmed up and you're getting miles off the battery, you may have to stop at a light. Well, if you aren't lead-footed, you can start from a stop and get up to your desired speed solely on battery power... it just takes a while. This isn't a problem if no one is behind you. People out here in California don't get mad, they just go around; but if I were elsewhere, I think I'd hear an awful lot of horn.

3) You watch the onboard touch-screen mileage counter.
Sometimes so religiously that you get into close calls. The screen tells you in near-real time what your gas mileage is on the right side and then what the last 5 minutes' average gas mileage was on the left. The whole left side is devoted to the last 30 minutes of driving time, so you can see how the trip did gas mileage-wise and how many kilowats you recharged the battery! NO, we DON'T have to plug it in. (Oh, when I take THIS route, I get better gas mileage near the end, but THAT route is better in the beginning...)

4) You notice all other Priuses on the road.
Maybe people do this anyways with ANY car. I know I do it with the bus too. I just figured it was more noticeable with both a VW bus and a Prius because they both are uncommon vehicles. I mean, I notice a Lamborghini & Ferrari when I see them even though I don't drive one because of the scarcity. One thing I have noticed is that most of the Prius drivers are over 50 yrs of age. I asked the dealer when I took it in if I was crazy and he confirmed my suspicions. Nearly 75% of Prius drivers are over 50. That number is on the decline since they redesigned the Prius. What gives, though! Is it only old people who want to save money?

5) Sometimes, once in a while, you kick it out to show those dorks they're wrong.
Once in a while you'll be sitting at a light, or notice someone trying to pass you, or feel someone just getting antsy and thinking: "There's another Prius." What they don't know is that the battery power has no mechanical hindrances like a gas engine. Step on pedal = car goes. Immediately. No waiting for gas to flow - ignite - push piston - turn cam - drive axel. Nope, just go go go. So, once in a while, I'll just kick it out and beat them off the line, or speed up and pass THEM. Sure, they always catch me later, but they have to try and by then, the point has been made. This lil' car has some spunk!

6) Priuses don't get the touted mileage on the sticker.
It says 60/51 on the sticker but it's really more like 55/45. Oh well. Am I going to complain? Hell no. Does your car get the mileage it showed on the sticker? Dream on. None of them do because they test them in optimal conditions so they can claim the best mileage so they can meet their quotas. People who complain about the Prius not getting the 60/51 aren't looking at the whole picture. They're just whining to try and make themselves not feel so bloody stupid for not buying one when they had the chance.

We got stuck in a traffic jam on the down-side of a mountain pass today on the way home from our day trip to Santa Cruz. It took 30 minutes to get down, but we weren't using the engine at all so the entire left side shows our mileage as 100mpg across the board! The mountain pass was only a few miles, so it didn't really count much toward our total average.

This was taken on 2/23/2006. Gas Mileage = 50.9

Go to the Toyota site and enter the hybrid section. You can see how much you might save based on how many miles you drive and the mpg of your current car.

Maybe it's just me, but driving just got a lot more interesting after buying this car.


Hose Head said...

So does the additonal cost of the vehicle get paid with the cost savings for gas mileage? We're working on ethanol plants for auto fuel here and some people are claiming that the cost to produce the corn to make the ethanol uses more fuel and therefore costs more to produce the ethanol than gas from pertoleum. Curious.

spaceJASE said...

I'd say yes. I only fill up the Prius 1/2 as often as the bus. I figured out at 55mpg, it costs about 40cents to drive the 8 miles to work. That's about 5 cents/mile. (rounded up from 4.5) So we get 550+ miles for a $25 tank of gas. We don't drive much on the highway, so we get better gas mileage. I put a link to Toyota's site on the main thread of this post. You can check it out and see how much you would save. We should save $580/year @ 20 miles/day (gas cost of 2.50/gallon) over the Buick and/or Concorde we had. (OR the bus for that matter - they all averaged 20mpg) If the car lasts ten years, we should save $5,800. That brings the cost of the vehicle down to ~20,000. If gas prices go up, we save more. I think they'll be going up - especially if the new "yellow" gas is more expensive to make. I'm all for that though! Burning cleaner fuel at a higher cost to me is fine. :)

belle said...

Nice new ride...I'd be scared I would get into a car accident from looking at that little screen too much.. :)

shun chu said...

Gas saving aside, just about everything else in that car is pretty damn cool... and more spacious than my antique Infiniti.

Damn those Japanese know how to make good cars...

Shaq said...

I have a 2006 Prius, and everyone stares at me when I drive. Gotta be that bright blue color!