As many of you know I like cars. In fact, driving my car around Denver to get to baseball games is almost as much fun as playing. So this month I went to the UK, really just Cambridge, to visit Red Gate and of course I paid attention to the cars that I saw.
First observation: They drive on the wrong side of the road. Not only that, but the steering wheel is on the wrong side. Of course the transmission shifts in the appropriate way and it seems like the controls are the same as they are in the US, just shifted a few feet to the right.
Second Observation: Cars are small. Most of the cars are smaller coupes or sedans, but even a 5 passenger sedan seems slightly smaller than it might otherwise be in the US.
Third Observation: It's a good things cars are small because roads are smaller. So small in fact that I found myself cringing as we passed through traffic in the city. People tend to drive up on curves or fit next to busses in ways that I am very much not used to. I've driven in New York traffic and this is much crazier in my mind.
But despite the chaos, it seems most drivers respect the tremendous amount of cyclists and I didn't see any accidents during my week there in the city. I also saw lots of diesels, which is nice to see. I think the US could do better if they produced more diesels, especially some of the newer, cleaner, more efficient models.
I was glad to get back into the US and drive my own cars around on the correct side of the road. It was also a time for maintenance on the cars and the first oil change for the Prius. I took some time to calculate out the costs of the car compared with our old minivan. To date, with conservative numbers, I've used 150 less gallons of fuel and saved $450. That's across 5000 miles and a little over three months. Using what I suspect are better numbers, 53mpg for the Prius, 18 for the minivan and $3.10 a gallon, we're more like 183 gallons and $568. With the $1500 tax credit, I think I've paid back half of the "hybrid premium" so far. For me, it was a good investment and it's saving some fuel.
Lastly, if you do happen to live in Germany and want to get a cool job, Porsche is holding an open call for positions, including people that can help them build vehicle-communication technology. Women especially are encouraged employ. When I was a young, unattached, ignorant high school student, my ideal plan was to get my college degree, start my MBA and take a year abroad working for Porsche, get the latest 911 from them, and then go spend a year or so in Japan working for Sony and load up on their gear.
Life has certainly changed!