The May Car Update

  • Prius Computer

    It's that time of month, and I'll limit to once a month, but most of you reading this on a daily basis realize that I love cars, so you have to put up with the occasional update. If you don't want to hear about cars, skip this editorial.

    It's been awhile since I mentioned the whole car thing, but there's been a change out here in Denver. My wife and I had been debating what to do when the lease runs out on our minivan. We don't want to keep it and we have been thinking about a car with better gas mileage. So we were debating it when I noticed this page on Mar 30, 2007.

    It shows that the Prius tax credit, $1575, ended the next day. My wife was in Dallas, coming home the next day, and that credit provides a good offset to the extra you pay for a hybrid. I'd tried for the full rebate last year, but there weren't enough hybrids available to buy. So we talked, ran some numbers, and decided to get one.

    So I've entered the "environmental movement" with the purchase of a Prius. And I have to say it's interested. The kids talk about global warming in school and so they think it's cool we are doing something. The computer in the car shows the mileage you're getting in real time as well as the last 30 minutes of driving (shown above). It's a pretty cool display and it encourages me to drive more carefully.

    The amount of data you get is pretty cool in the car. Navigation, phone book synch with the cell phone, multiple users, gas consumption, and more. The only thing that might work better is if I could easily download this to a USB key or even as a file to my phone.

    One very interesting thing was brought up by my neighbor. With the talk about revising the EPA estimates to lower the numbers on mileage, he thought that maybe the computer was "rigged" to show better fuel consumption than it's really getting. He didn't believe that I was getting 50mpg as the computer showed. The overall mileage can be reset, which my daughter loves to do, so I decided to use one of the odometers to track mileage and calculate mpg based on full fill ups.

    On the 3rd fill up, I calculated 48.6mpg and the 4th showed 50.7mpg. And both of those tanks were well over 450 miles on a $12-15 fill up!

    I'm not sure how much of an environmental impact I'm making, but I know this car definitely seems to be performing as expected.

  • Hi Steve, I couldnt resist! Boys will be boys hey. I am 51 this year and boy whenever I get a new toy, bike, plane, boat or car everyone have to know. Well not that I am telling them but my whole world revolves arround my new toy and endusers, customers and friends cant miss my topic of enjoyment. So after reading your daily editorial my firts impression was that your story does not fit the publication. Anycase after putting myself in your shoes I realised that us boys are all the same. So enjoy your new toy. Wish we had the same fuel price in South Africa. We pay $10.00 per gallon and about $100.00 per top up. Our basic advantage is no speed traps and we drive arround our cities at about 100mph daily. Fast lane on our freeways see most drivers do 140mph+. Yes we do have the highest number of road deaths. Well enought chit chat. Enjoy your new wheels.

    Regards Chris

  • Hi Steve,

    I love cars as well unfortunatley i need to do a lot of commuting miles so i bought a 2 litre turbo diesel Toyota Corolla avg mpg 55

    http://www.channel4.com/4car/media/motorshows/birmingham2004/03-large/toyota-corolla-f3q.jpg

    1 gallon (US)=3.785411784 litres

    1 gallon (UK)=4.54609 litres

    If i assume that your car is displaying in US gallons

    Prius = 13.4 miles to the litre

    Corrola = 12.1 miles to the litre

    I'm not sure you'll agree but that seems like very little return for the hybrid engine over a standard oil burner.

    That aside this was my last weekend warrior

    http://www.diseno-art.com/images/mitsubishi_FTO.jpg

    And i'm hoping to get this in the near furture.

    http://www.motorauthority.com/wp-content/uploads/Lotus/Elise/elise.jpg

     

    K.

     

     

     

  • In the Netherlands the tax credit is EUR 6000 (ca $8000) for a Prius !!

    But we pay much more tax on our cars. And also a lot of tax on gas ($8 a gallon). I think thats a reason why European cars have a much better mpg: a normal European car does ca 30 mpg. And in Germany there is no speed limit, so our cars have to perform at a speed of 140+. But our freeways are quite safe, not as in South Africa.

    What I want to say is that the governmental rules e.g. the tax system influences the way the cars are build. And in the USA, with low prices on energy (even now), this means you get cars, using a lot of energy. There is no push [or Bush ] for reduction on energy.

  • I bought myself a diesel, (1.8 litre turbo diesel focus actually), as I was doing a lot of driving to and from work, (100+ miles per day). Thankfully it's less than half that, but it's still pretty expensive here in the UK. Mainly because of the government's various taxes; about 2/3 of our fuel prices are absorbed in taxes and most petrol stations make so little money that they have to survive almost entirely on the revenue from shop purchases; or so I've heard 😉

    As for tax credits here! I don't think we'll have a hope in hell's chance of getting money off! The cynic in me says we're more likely to have increasing taxes instead, based on how much our government has screwed us.

    But still so many people use cars; me included; though I did move nearer to my last job so I could walk to work; then promptly switched jobs and now I'm doing about 40 miles a day.

     

    Sorry about the very negatively orientated post, but I've realised that with these types of things, don't expect too much and you won't end up miserable.

    Though if anyone does have a solution, then please tell me - I was hoping that electric cars would take off, but it looks like they'd never be efficient enough for us consumers.

     

    Paul

    Paul

  • Another Interesting mail.

      Steve,

       I love my cars too, having had several high powered motors, I currently have an RX-8 and recently I have been thinking about changing it, but I really wasn't prepared for such a jump down the power stakes in one go to a prius. So I found this lovely baby

    http://www.teslamotors.com/index.php     they are built over here in England and sold in the states. I have been mailing them to find out if they will sell them in the UK.

      Maybe if you get bored with the Prius?

     Alan

  • I live in Ohio and alot of people drive like total idiots. Speed limit signs are basically ignored here. Most people think of them as a suggestion not a law. I have a 4 cyl. Honda Accord and get about 31 MPG. I would like to get a smaller vehicle like a Honda Civic but with the speeds that people drive on our freeways and the distractions of cell phones as they drive I see some pretty ugly accidents and wonder if downsizing for me is a good idea or not.

  • Hey I want a turbo diesel! Unfortunatly the only one available anymore is Mercedes S350 (I think that is the model number).  We don't get fun diesels over here in the US due to our poor quality diesel!  Luckily that is about to change starting this year.

    It's interresting to see the differences in cars between Europe and here though.  I just came back from visiting my parents in Norway a few weeks back.  You guys have so many small fun cars that we don't get.  Heck, even the Civic in Europe is completely different than the one we get here, the Accord is smaller (although the European one is sold here as the Acura TSX).

    But personally I still like my big V-8s!   I don't drive enough to worry too much about the gas mileage (13 miles round trip to work), although the mileage on the RX-8 I just sold was pretty bad, even worse than on the Trans Ams I had before it.  Heck even my huge Explorer get better mileage than the RX-8!

    Oh, and Steve, keep entertaining us with car stories   I think we all needs some diversions once in a while.

  • Steve,

    Glad to hear you are joining the environmental craze with your Prius. What's next SQLserver econ1.1? I just bought a Scion Xa and am getting 35mph, not bad. My other car is a bicycle and on my riding days mileage is unlimited.

     

  • I'm in the camp that says that global warming is probably more of a cyclic trend, rather than something man-made.  Still, there is nothing wrong with reducing pollution a bit - nobody wants pollution.

    There main thing that stops me from getting a hybrid is that I am not convinced that the total cost of ownership would be less than a comparable 'normal' vehicle.  Even with the increase in gas costs, I don't think that the hybrids are there yet.  I used to be concerned that the performance would be degraded also, but, hey, I really don't drive that fast anyway.

    So, are the hybrids officially 'a good deal', or do we still need a tax credit (and then some) to make these cars viable?

  • Basically, there is no free energy. Hybrids are not automatically greatly more efficient (except perhaps in stop and go driving). There is some advantage in that the engine can often be a bit smaller and work at a more sustained power level but CV transmissions are heading that way too with one less conversion between engine and wheels.

    While the hybrid concept can provide perky gneral performance in a small car, there is still the devil to pay when doing something that requires sustained output (heavy loads, trailer towing) that still put the laws of physics in the way.

     

     

    ...

    -- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --

  • I got a Prius last year and love it! Thankfully I was able to take advantage of the full $3,150 tax credit on my taxes for this year, pretty much eliminated the price difference between the Prius and a comparable non-hybrid. I agree that the EPA claims of 60 mpg in the city, 55 mpg average are a bit high -- aren't they always. I'm getting about 48.3 mpg as my lifetime average. These are my stats at Green Hybrid (click the picture)

    Aside from getting twice the gas mileage of my last car, ~24 mpg, the Prius has lots of cool toys as you've mentioned. My favorite is the radio key where you don't even have to press a button on the key to unlock your car, if the key's in your pocket and you touch the door handle the car unlocks. You also don't even have to put the key in the key slot. Talk about a slacker's dream key. It always shocks people at first when they see I press a button to start the car, rather than crank a key. Oh and the smooth ride from the CVT is really nice too.

    Yeah, I love my Prius!

  • Our car is a 1.9TDi that gets approx. 38mpg commuting to and from work (urban).  On the motorways we can easily top 60mpg.  The fuel is dearer over here so it costs about £40 to fill up but that gives us about 450 - 500 miles.

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    Normal chaos will be resumed as soon as possible. :crazy:

  • Steve: Congrats on the new car.  I'm still driving my 1998 Ford Escort wagon because it's paid for.

    My wife hates hybrids.  She says that they are a serious safety hazzard.  Not to drivers or passengers, but to pedestrians.  Guess which group thinks this way.  Same group that hates the "right turn on red" laws.

    As to the global warming thing: Don't get me started.  Too late.  First, I'm conservative.  That means that I like to conserve.  Using less fuel is a good thing for so many reasons.  Reducing pollution is also a good thing.  I get flammed so much for my stand on global warming that I'm not going to start in here.  I get it from both sides.  The right side nails me for saying that global warming is real (and I have the data) but the left gets me for pointing out the major natural forces at work here (and I have the data for that too).  Then I get it from the right for pointing out that the environmental crowd has many good points and that we have a responsibility to be good stewards.  The environmental crowd yells at me for saying that conservation is good because it means that there will be more for ME to use later.

    ATBCharles Kincaid

  • Did anyone happen to see this http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4024682

    The comparison is between 92 vehicles and today. The big take home is that obesity is a problem for our cars (as well as humans) and that today's cars get worse than their 92 siblings (even before the new epa estimates).

    I had a 92 escort that got 42 mpg, my 97 dropped to 37, my 03 focus is down to 35 (I bumped that up a bit with some mods). But heres the deal, while our cars have gotten way more advanced, they have gotten bloated and heavy. My bike has more advanced metals and gears than my car. And the 92 Civic VX got better mpg than todays hybrids. Sorry to rain on the parade. I believe we need to trim our cars - give ma a mesh seat that is lighter and cooler (= less a/c as well), ditch the auto everything - I have muscles that probably shouldn't atrophy. Start using more composites - a carbon fiber hood will drop 100 lbs (~ .5 mpg increase for every 100 lbs).

    Just my .02 cents - personally I will keep bike/bus commuting. And I agree with others, why can't we get more european cars in the US? They seem to be way ahead of us a far as mpg/diesel goes. For example my Focus is a 2L (smallest engine I could get) in Europe I can buy a 1.6L Focus. WHY!!!??

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