The May Car Update

  • Hi,

     Something I forgot to put in my previous mail is that the goverment here in the uk. Run a scheme whereby you can buy a bike with the required equipment through your employer upto (£1000.00) and you dont pay any tax on the initial price (your employer claims that) and you get a tax break in your monthly pay packet too. Obviously England being a smaller country therefore everything is a little closer it is probably more practical than the US.

      Still enjoy my RX-8 as much as my Specialised Rockhopper disc

  • Glad to see there's at least some interest.

    I'm not sold on global warming myself, nor am I a rapid environmentalist, but I think it makes some sense to at least consider that we can do better than just burning everything we dig out of the ground. I'd like to be sustainable, so the hybrid is a start for me. I'm still looking at windmills and solar to help power the house. It's partially a payback and partially a reduce emissions thing.

    We have less diesel choices here in the US. VW stopped the Jetta, at least here in Denver, and it seems there are very few other choices. Had no idea Toyota even built one.

    The neatest thing about the Prius is the feedback. It makes me drive a bit different, even in my Porsche

    +50mpg is pretty cool. Especially in the states where most cars seem to be in the 20s and 30s.

    I'm still looking for an old gold cart or go cart I can convert to solar and let the kids drive around the ranch

  • Couldn't resist... I drive a 4 door Honda Civic and see from 36 MPG to 41 MPG on trips.

    Before this I had the Civic 4 door hybrid. I saw 42 to 48 MPG. The vehicle had a minor problem after about 18 months and I took it into the dealer. They said the transmission was bad and needed repair. Expect a bill of 3500.00 to 4000.00 dollars unless Honda will extend the warranty. Honda agreed to warranty the repairs (it really is a GREAT company) and with Honda involved, the minor problem was found and my car was repaired free. The bill would have been less than 500.00 dollars if the mechanic had diagnosed it correctly the first time and I would still be driving a hybrid:-)

    The process took a week and while waiting I went to the show room and asked the manager how much to trade for a standard Civic. Total cost for the trade was 2500.00. So I'm off the hybrids and back to the standard Civic. My new standard Civic was 14K and the hybrid was 20K. I took advantage of a tax break with the hybrid, but don't remember the exact dollars at the moment.

    Now as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story... In 1987 I purchased a new Honda Civic CRX HF. I traveled 162 miles round trip to work and checked mileage over 90% of the time at fill up. The CRX got between 48 to 51 MPG consistently. No electronic fuel injection, no really great ignition system, no variable cam timing, and all the other great stuff available on today's Honda's and I'm sure other manufacturers have great designs as well, but where are the 50 MPG cars!!! Or Duh, Huh... as we ignorant Southerner's say... 🙂

  • All the major mass car manufacturers that sell a product in the Uk and the rest of Europe Ford, GM, Honda,Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Renault etc etc provide at least 1 diesel engined vehicle and usually it will be one per model i.e Ford's Fiesta, Focus, Mondeo and the other variants i.e C-max are available with a diesel engine. Diesel is probably the most popular fuel on the Continent.

  • What I'm going to be interested in reading about, Steve, is your report about ten months from now after you've gone through a full winter in your Prius.  My wife lives in Cloudcroft, NM (8600') and works at 9200'.  We have good winters up there, but they're not as big as Denver.  I want to know how well a Prius does in the snow!  When I moved to Cloudcroft, we traded in my 2WD Rodeo for a new 4WD Toyota Matrix.  It's been an excellent car and I've gotten 29MPG over its life.  It's now 18 months old and has 42,000 miles on it.

    The only complaint that I have about it in the snow is I'd like another inch or two of ground clearance.  The traction is fine with the 4WD and good tires, but sometimes the snow pileup in the middle of the dirt street going to our house lifts the car off the ground and greatly reduces traction.

    I'll be very interested in reading your report (puts reminder into Palm Pilot to watch for it next April...)

    [font="Arial"]Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson[/font]

  • Well, until Tesla Motors builds a more affordable vehicle (and comes to my backyard in Albuquerque), I'll stick with my '06 VW Jetta TDI Diesel.  I drive 50 mi. a day to work and back, and average 42 mpg city.  Highway mileage is 52 mpg - way cool. 

    I think the only issue with the Prius is highway driving - try going on an 800 mile trip in a heavy car, with baggage and passengers and 1) get anywhere fast or 2) get decent mileage.  Prius was made for city driving, from what I can tell.  

    BTW - the VW dealer in Albuquerque just brought in 20 brand new '06 Jetta TDIs - that should keep folks happy until the '08s come across the  pond (with even better mileage!).  I actually bought mine off eBay and paid $6000 under book...!




  • If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, hybrids have a huge advantage because they can use regenerative braking to put some of the energy you've paid for back in the batteries.  I drive 45 miles to work each day on limited-access highway and rarely touch my brake pedal, and I doubt that a hybrid makes it very far up a two- or three-mile hill before the battery is done and you're limited to a puny engine.  I'd rather have a diesel.

    There are ecological penalties to hybrids that are rarely discussed, mainly the mining, smelting, and disposal of huge amounts of heavy-metal battery components.  I'm not against hybrids, I'd have a Prius myself if it fit the driving I do, but anyone who has any smug self-satisfaction that they're doing great things for the environment by owning one needs to go tour a cadmium mine.

  • Since I actually have a Prius I'll comment on some of the comments about them. I've had mine for almost a year and a half so I've driven it during the winter, albeit I live in the South and we had exactly one day of snow this year.

    The battery recharges not just from regenerative braking but primarily from the gasoline. I haven't studied this too in-depth but part of the gasoline that would normally be wasted goes to recharging the battery. I've actually run completely out of gas in my Prius once and used the batteries to get myself to a gas station and after I filled up the battery recharged as I drove. Regenerative braking is just one way the car recaptures energy that might be lost. Another way it does this is from coasting. If you're going downhill, or just have enough momentum to not need any additional energy from the engine, the car will use the rotation of the wheels to operate the motor in reverse, sending energy to the batteries. Some sites say that you can drive completely off the batteries until you hit 42 mph, and this is generally true, but there are times when I'm driving really fast on a straightaway and notice no energy coming from the engine, only the batteries. BTW, a Prius is just as good on a highway as in stop-and-go city traffic. You won't be recapturing energy from your brakes, but you'll still have high mileages.

    Since we literally only had one day of snow down here, and I didn't drive in it, I can't comment on snow driving too much. But I doubt it would be drastically different from my last car. The only thing different about a Prius is that it has a big battery; otherwise it's still a car. Mine has traction control and anti-lock brakes. If snow is an issue where you live I'd imagine you put snow chains on your tires or whatever people in snowy environments do.

  • I looked at a Hybrid a couple of years ago. They were completely sold out except for the showroom model, but I wondered about when the battery would need to be replaced? Can they recycle the battery? Would it have to be a new battery with new materials? How much would the battery replacement cost and would the demand cause a delay in getting it installed? So, I'm waiting for now.


  • I don't think supply is as much of a problem now as it used to be in the past. I looked in 2004 and the wait time was crazy, in January 2006 when I got mine the dealership had 4 just lying out. I saw a Prius commercial for the first time a few weeks ago and Toyota made a point of addressing the great demand for them in the past and their inability to meet it, but apparently they've now rectified that. It even said some option packages have savings! Nothing to shout about really, but the first time a Prius has had an incentive.

    The batteries in the Prius are nickel-metal hydride, just like most rechargeable batteries you buy in stores. Toyota expects the battery to last the life of the vehicle, or around 180,000 miles. Replacing the battery is rare, from what I've read, because of this. Either way since they're NiMH batteries recycling them isn't an issue. Apparently they'll even pay you to recycle them,

  • I had a minor accident in early December last year (hit a rock going to town: it took out the tranny to the tune of 45 days and $6200, thank goodness for insurance!) and walked over to shoot the bull with my salesman.  He had EIGHT Priuses (Priei?) on the lot.  Sales had slacked a bit and production had picked up.  He was in a bit of a state of shock.

    One thing that I have heard about the Prius is that you have instant full torque.  Makes it nice if you're having problems with snow.  Now if only they'd do a 4WD version of it!


    [font="Arial"]Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson[/font]

  • Any electric motor has instant full torque, this is not unique to the Prius.  But full torque is the worst possible way to try to start on snow or ice, kind of like revving the engine and dumping the clutch on your 60's muscle car.  If they didn't have traction control they would be miserable in northern winters.

  • I'm not sure about the snow. It will certainly be something to watch, but my wife's big 2500 diesel should get us out. Or my 40hp tractor

    I live in SE Denver, a fairly hilly area and I see the battery charge to green going to town, only to drop as I come home. It seems the algorithms Toyota uses are interesting. If the battery is low, the gas engine will run a bit more and charge the battery. If it's charged, tends not to run as much. Even on rolling hills, I'm getting 50mpg, which I consider to be great. I'd expect I'd do a bit better back in VA. It does seem to do well up to about 60mph. Above that seems like it spends more time in the 35-40mph range than the 50mph range.

    I tried to get one last July (06) and was told for $1000 deposit I could have one in Dec or Jan. I went in Mar and they had 5 left the last day of the tax break, but a few weeks before they had a couple dozen. I think this year Toyota has done a good job getting supply ramped up.

    It's not necessarily the best environmental choice, though I think it's slightly better than the average car over a lifetime. Haven't seen much on batteries being a problem from the 03-07 models. The early ones had some battery replacements, but supposedly there are plenty of people over 100,000 miles now that haven't had to replace batteries.

    I'll keep you updated.

  • Steve,

    You will enjoy the extra battery capacity of your Prius.

    In really cold weather and when you are stuck along side the road in heavy snow in your not going anywhere hybrid, your 4 way flasher will last longer and your cell phone will have more power to keep trying to reach beyond that "out of area message" you keep getting....

    Just kidding, I see them on the streets up here. Quite often under the front end of some 4X4 truck, but on the street none the less.

    Sorry. I think Hybrids are the way to go for in town commuting, not the open road. I don't think electric is the answer either. Just moves the pollution elsewhere (NIMBY). Natural gas is not it either, at least in all places. I have seen large trucks here converted to NG and in seasonably cold weather (0 - 10 F), the gas does not behave the same and the engine stalls or looses power. Saw this happen to large semi truck far from any help after dipping into a cold valley and then trying to climb a long grade out. He made it but that company did not convert any more trucks.

    I think our current problem is the fuel. Others here have noted that 90's era vehicles got better MPG. Remember the 1973 fuel crisis's? VW came out with a 50 MPG diesel Rabbit and could not make enough of them. Now its 32 years later and we digressed. Moore's law should have been forced onto the engine manufactures to really produce and develop better engines. We should be well over 100 mpg or more by now using clean burning fuel. And that's for 4X4 trucks!

    Maybe hydrogen or fuel cells are the future, but improving what we already know will go along way for now.



  • A battery/combustion hybrid car will show the best benefit where the driving is stop/start/short trip as versus long distance >= 60km/hr (30 mph).

    Since the car cannot run forever on batteries and most of them switch from battery to engine at a predetermined speed when you take one of these cars for a road tour they behave as a normal car.

    A taxi company here is switching to them and they are showing fuel economy benefits not as great as would be expected (a fair amount of highway distance travel around here)

    The other thing the company notes is that when a car is damaged in a collision it becomes a write-off (too expensive to fix)



    The systems fine with no users loggged in. Can we keep it that way ?br>

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