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Prius, It Totally Rules!



June 17, 2008 – Comments (12) | RELATED TICKERS: TM

Two of the comments on my last blog article mentioned the Prius, so I thought I would talk about it.

It is a green 2003 that I bought new just a bit over 5 years ago. The only teething pain was a rear seatbelt that jammed in the first week or two and was replaced at no cost to me. I bought it when my pick up truck died (after 15 years and a buncha miles) and I could see that cheap gas was not going to last forever. (But I did not carry this insight over to investing, so I missed most of the energy stocks run up.) I bought it with the extended warranty, figuring this was new tech and anything could happen.

Since then the car has performed admirably. It is very comfortable to drive and the heating and air conditioner work very well. It is not a sports car, but the battery boost lets you accelerate quickly when you need to get onto a highway or the like. (The zero to 65 distance is much shorter than the pickup truck, even though that had a V8 and got 15 to the gallon.) When I was driving the car pool, I could get me, 4 kids and their backpacks and school projects in quite comfortably. Other than routine maintenance, it has not needed any work. (I did have to replace a rear windshield, but that was due to a golf ball that some $&(#&(&$ golfer sliced 50 yards off the fairway center line. I hope all his drives go in the water.) 

On the mileage front, I get about 45 to the gallon in my daily commute. It is a bit better in summer and a bit worse in winter when we get gas with ethanol in it for air pollution control. (ETOH has a lower energy density than gasoline due to that big heavy oxygen in the OH ligand.) Trips do better, but mileage drops off at 75, so I often take secondary highways rather than the interstates. (Which usually have better scenery anyways.) On the just concluded trip, we did 2899 miles at an average mileage of 49.1.

The only real problem with it was that the original tires were not very grippy on snow or ice and got chewed up pretty fast. I fixed that by buying some aftermarket Michelins that not only grip much better (on the trip I was one of two cars that made it up a snowy hill outside of Browning Montana) but last much much longer. The drop in mileage has been small and well worth it.

So today after 5 years and 72,000 miles I am a huge Prius fan. I know a bunch of other Prius owners in the area and we all love the car. (I have never met an owner who hated the car.) I in fact liked it so much that I bought some Toyota Motors stock and will add more if it looks like it is cheap.

Chris - long TM and very long the Prius 

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 17, 2008 at 10:41 AM, HatchingPlans (55.52) wrote:

Toyota in general is quite a company... The cars are bullet-proof mechanically and electrically, and they put all sorts of little ideas that make you go "i never woulda thought of that!"... Like you said, basically all you need for the first 10-15 years of operation is routine brakes, tires, oil changes, and the rest of that kinda stuff that every car needs.

They have been expanding their horizons to fit more targets, and instead of just focusing on reliability at the cost of all else, they have started really focusing on making each model better at what it should be good at... Cutting costs for family cars, getting better gas mileage and technology in hybrids, and getting more balls into their pickup trucks.

However, I still find them to be inept at their sports cars and general "cool" appeal and development. I've only seen one good sports car that they released, and they stopped making it almost 15 years ago... The MR2 back in the '91 - '94 design. The 2000 MR-S is an awful re-design of this car, and they had to discontinue it since understandably nobody bought them.

Scion is even worse... Trying to make a label for a cool line of cars, then filling it in with a line of flat out uncool cars... The tC is decent, but that doesn't warrant an entirely new brand name... They could have made it a toyota model and it would have sold better. The xA and xB are abysmal. After test driving both, I've decided that they drive, feel, and look entirely uncool. No speed, awful handling, cramped, and the gauges look like they belong on a tonka toy, not a car.

Toyota is the biggest car maker in the world, but they're by no means perfect. I own a '91 Toyota MR2 and I'm pretty happy with it, but I probably won't buy a new toyota any time soon now that they are shifting away from anything remotely sporty. When this one finally bites the dust I'll probably go out and get a '93 or '94. Those are the best years they made them in America.

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#2) On June 17, 2008 at 10:57 AM, Atleus (< 20) wrote:

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#3) On June 17, 2008 at 11:14 AM, FleaBagger (29.37) wrote:

My Hyundai Accent hatchback, allegedly 29 cty, 37 hwy actually gets 28 in my suburban Sterling-Reston VA commute. There are a lot of traffic lights, and I occasionally drive aggressively, but that is ridiculous.

I think we will all be driving hybrids when gas is $5/gal unless zinc runs up even more. Speaking of zinc, the article Atleus links to ridiculously says that "almost without exception, scientists and policy makers agree that hybrid vehicles are good for the planet" - but they aren't. The ones saying that they are are the ignorant ones, like the global warming thing in general. The ones saying that global warming is caused by human behavior are either ignorant or paid by the government to study the problem. If they came clean (pun intended), they would have no more money, because there would be no more problem.

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#4) On June 17, 2008 at 11:25 AM, EverydayInvestor (< 20) wrote:

Heh. So I guess you're a chemist, Chris? Nobody else talks about ligands these days ... what a shame. I almost bought a Honda Civic Hybrid back in 2003. Instead I got a Mazda Protege. I average about 26 mpg, but now that I work from home and my wife walks to work it is not a big deal. Plus I saved a bunch of money on that car.

In seven years or so when this car dies I definitely replace it with something 'greener' and that gets better mpg. Interesting factoid most people don't understand: increasing mpg from 15 to 20 saves a lot more gas than increasing from 45 to 50. Improvement from 15mpg to 20mpg would save you 2.5 gallons when driving 150 miles, but going from 45mpg to 50mpg would save you only 1/3 gallon. The best way to improve nationwide or worldwide fuel efficiency (and reduce emissions, oil use, etc.) is not to introduce super-efficient cars but to eliminate the most inefficient cars.

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#5) On June 17, 2008 at 11:29 AM, HatchingPlans (55.52) wrote:

Global warming exists... but we counteract it with our own means. Jet streams cool down the planet by blocking the sun's rays which are amplified from greenhouse gasses. I watched it on NOVA... Kinda cool actually. Heating and cooling effects butting heads with each other, causing a general equilibrium which most people won't notice in day to day lives.

Funny how people are all pissed about gas being $5/gal here when it's been like $4-5/gal in europe for a bunch of years... now over there it's like $12... makes me wanna buy a bike to get around town and invest the money i save from gas into the stock market.

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#6) On June 17, 2008 at 5:47 PM, rudolphsteiner (< 20) wrote:

"The ones saying that global warming is caused by human behavior are either ignorant or paid by the government to study the problem."

Fleabagger, you're confusing Exxon with the government, and actually they pay people to say what you just said. In fact, the US government threatened to fire its scientists for saying human induced global warming exists, but they still said it, because there is a massive scientific consensus on this point.

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#7) On June 18, 2008 at 12:45 AM, chk999 (99.98) wrote:

EverydayInvestor - I was a chem major in college before I went over to the dark side. (Software) One of the reasons I like the extractives industries is that they do really neato chemical things. The way that hydrogen is hoarded and cycled between thingies that produce hydrogen and thingies that consume hydrogen in a high complexity level refinery is a thing of beauty.

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#8) On June 18, 2008 at 12:48 AM, chk999 (99.98) wrote:

HatchingPlans - the extra cost of gasoline in Europe is taxes. They have the same cost for RBOB at the refinery as everybody else, since they buy crude on the spot market (or with futures contracts) like everybody else.

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#9) On June 18, 2008 at 11:19 AM, HatchingPlans (55.52) wrote:

yeah, i understand... but people in the US are more worried about the cost than the reason that gas is so expensive. so i'm using it more as an example... cuz we might have to start doing things they've been doing for years...

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#10) On June 19, 2008 at 2:08 PM, darroj (33.26) wrote:

HatchingPlans - Unfortunately, its too late to start doing things the way Europe has been doing it for years.  Cheap gas became a part of our infrastructure.  I live near LA... traffic sucks. I know people that commute 40-60 miles each way every day to work.  They did that because that's where housing was affordable and they could afford gas. Now, 120 miles a day isn't so affordable. I know LA in particular just sucks, but look at the roads in Europe. Look at the cities... It's been designed that way.  If the government started taxing gas up to $10/$12 a gal, well, I don't really know what would happen... but whoever did that, wouldn't get re-elected (which is also why we'll never get rid of that drain on the economy known as social security...)


/end rant 


ps - why do most prius drivers think they need to go 5-10 mph under the speed limit all the time? Makes me bonkers... Plus if any of you read wired magazine, making the battery produces the same emissions as burning 1000 gallons of gasoline or something crazy like that.

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#11) On June 20, 2008 at 7:48 PM, atmx411 (54.72) wrote:

Times like these the prius is an ecenomical choice. fear not tho, on the down side its not a race car nor a ford mustang.  neither are a good choice with fuel prices so high.  plus i'd add a side note that the gremlins seem to be preinstalled in some ford vehicles haha. btw thanks for the comment on my blog

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#12) On June 21, 2008 at 7:05 PM, HatchingPlans (55.52) wrote:

yeah darroj... we didn't really do a very good job planning our cities... but you will notice that passenger train usage is up 20% this year, and people i know carpool to/from work to save money. other people i know take their bike around town to stay in shape and save money... i agree that the prius is a great idea for long distances, but ideally we should be looking for destinations and jobs that are closer to home...

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