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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I assumed that the responses to the MANY e-mails I received would auto matically appear here. Not true - so I am including the responses here. Some of this might repeat.

I would like to thank all for their direct correspondence:
Well - I am not trying to persuade or disuade anyone - just giving information.

Maybe raising pressure on the tires would have helped in another way. We put on a set of tires at about 14000 miles and the tries were bald when we terminated our use of the car.

On this service we have used 92-93-94 chev cavaliers. We generally get about 30000 miles on a set or tires (a lot of stop-start) and about 18 mpg.

We really thought that this type of useage would maximize Prius mileage - stop-start and MOSTLY "city", with about 18 "highway" miles in the total 100 miles per day I just think 37 MPG is low for such a highly touted and expensive (if the full price were charged) product.

I also drove the car up to the Penn State/Miami football game (1 Sept 2001). Bumped into some folks from the local Toyota dealership who wanted to check out the car because they had NEVER seen one. They told me that Toyota was NOT selling the car up in the PA mountain area "because it would not get good fuel mileage".

My guess - back to the drawing boards
So did I, and I am probably much older than you.

My son works in a semi-rural area - so - his afternoon route is called a home delivery motor-route. Some of the areas could be covered on foot (or bike), but then you have to get over to the next subdivision. His delivery pattern looks like a USPS mail route except every customer gets a paper every day.

He also has a morning USA ToDay - Wall Street Journal - New York Times - Washington Times route which is stores, racks and motels. This looks like UPS route. Sunday is the killer. Have you ever seen the Sunday New York Times - basically 4" thick. (If you are in NJ you have !)

When hybrids or electric vehicles really work UPS, the USPS and Fed Ex will be the first to convert. After all, these guys are fairly innovative and will consider any way to reduce expenses. I haven't heard much about the Ford USPS electric vehicle except Ford will stop producing this year. There's gotta be a good reason - probably battery life. Toyota was renting pure electric RAV's at LAX, and we asked to get one but - - -

What I really don't understand is why someone has not gone to my version of a hybrid. Basically, electric battery powered (which the Prius is NOT) with a constant speed finely tuned gas-powered charger set up to guarantee ~125 miles before rundown. Daily operation would be supplemented with an overnight booster charge taking not more then 4-5 hours 110V AC. In other words the GM EV-1 with an onboard small constant speed gas-powered charger to increase range above the 40-50 miles. It does, however, make for a very complex propulsion system, and engine idling shut-down and partial power shut off, which Ford will do next year, may be the interim answer.

We'll see. Thanx for your response.
Well - i'll admit - as an Environmental Engineer I was attracted to the clean air and gas mileags claims. We lived directly on the Cheasapeake Bay.
When we purchased, we were upfront with the salesmen and told them (exhaustively) about the intended useage. Ih fact, they took the car up to the newspaper office hoping to get a story like "newspaper delivery person purchases a Prius" which would have played well in the Annapolis area. They were talking about 60 MPG with our useage pattern. This was mid-2000, so I guess it is fair to say that no one really knew the true mileage picture.

Anyways - the experiment was a failure in that the additional projected cost of use (with a new battery at ????? miles) did not balance out gas mileage savings, and the tires - UUGH !! We just couldn't figure out what to do because replacements in this size are limited. Yes - we ran the A/C and accessories and, you are correct, this does trigger the gas engine.

Remember "just drive it like any other car".

Since our episode, I have spoken to many Prius salesmen, and they all tell me that orders are not to discuss fuel mileage but to stress "clean" emssions. This is probably a smart tatic. I also note very little advertising by Toyota for this vehicle. (I have just moved to a new location and probably should go by the local Toyota dealership to see if they even have any.)

I still like the Hybrid concept even thought it might be pricey with special batteries. At one time I was tempted to go to Arizona, purchase/lease an EV-1 and put it in service with a small (lawnmower size) gas-engine-generator in the trunk to see if reasonable range could be attained. We, and most commuter folks, need 100-125 miles. Then the overnight charge would supplement.

Thanx for your response.
Yes - we know that a conventional car (we have used 4-5-6 '90-'95 Chev Cavaliers - we have 3 of 'em now) would get about 15-17 MPG, and 25000 miles on a set of tires. You also have re-line break pads and rotors every 2 months and this has to be do-it-yourself cost effective. This service approximates a USPS route, except you deliver a paper to every stop every day. We usually buy these automobiles used for approx $6000 with 50000+ miles and drive them 150000 miles before junking. This is the economics of the paper route business.

We went with the prius (at $21000 and very poor tire mileage) because we were assured by sales staff (and Toyota advertising) that very good gas mileages could be attained with this type of stop-start driving. We kept extensive records and got exactly 37.0 mpg over a base of 27050 miles (10 months).

Is this OK - perhaps yes, if our expectations were not so high. Maybe we should start looking for used Hybrids. But - the battery situation is yet to be resolved and a BIG question mark. These cars are just 2 years old - probably no one has reached the 100000 mile threshold yet. I hear $7000 which would put another big dent in the economics.

I still feel that the mileage increase over - say - an Echo is not worth the extra cost, complexity and uncertainty. My suspicions are perhaps confirmed by a low acceptance in the "delivery business". Delivery folks are cost-concious. If this concept was a godsend it would be immediately accepted by this community. So far ZERO penetration.

Here's the math: 30000 miles /(37-17) gallons/mile * $1.25 $/gallon = $1875 $/year increased gasoline cost. We save on tires and break relines so lets say we spend $1275 per year more with the Chev's. Compare against acquision cost savings - and than there's that damn $7000 battery and power plant uncertainty.

Thanx for the letter.
In this case, I honestly think that the salespersons were as ignorant as anyone else. Toyota has since stopped "pushing" the gas mileage claims - in fact they seem to have stopped pushing the car. They DO NOT sell the vehicle in certain parts of the country, and that is a recognition (in my opinion) that this concept still needs work.

What is the status of the RAV-4 all-electric ??

Thanx for your response.
Another input.

We kept METICULOUS gas fillup records (METICULOUS EXHAUSTIVE). We started useage 23 Dec 2000 and ran the car the first 9 months of 2001.

We had winter (Maryland), spring, summer and some fall.

We noticed only a 1-2 mpg difference (max) between the seasons. We thought that mileage might be severly reduced during the summer. Does the air handler (defroster) also run the AC?

CORRECTION: we got 36.0 over a base of 27050 miles (just looked at records). I might have said 37 in several posts.

Because of the conntentious situation, we maintined the car EXACTLY as per the Toyota Manual. We did the free oil changes at 7500, 15000 and 22500 miles and inflated the tires as per the door jam. I assume the Toyota dealership put in the proper oil. I don't remember the tire inflation, but it was EXACTLY as specified (EXACTLY). We didn't want anyone coming back and saying "you did not maintain the car as specified".

I would say our driving, 100 miles per day, was approx 80% city stop-start and 20% highway at not more than 55mph (Maryland State police substation in this area).
If CU got 41 mpg, then that is probably about right. We got 36 mpg in severe stop-start (jackrabbit) driving. Go Figure:- 450+ stops in 3 hours and 50 miles - afternoon route.
Yes - EPA mileages are generally over-stated.

But there are 3-4 separate issues:

1. Over-statement of mileage - defense "everybody does it". 50% of 50 mpg is 25 mpg, and 50% of 25 mpg is 12.5 mpg. The're both 50% but I buy gas by the gallon and not by the percent.

2. Battery life and replacement costs. This is still unresolved. Toyota should guarantee something, or provide for the purchase of extended electrical system coverage. Like a GM new-car extended warranty, for which I gladly pay money and select the mileage and time frame.

3. Very poor tire mileage. The solution here might be a different tire inflated to 60 psi. 13000 miles is not good, and the unique size makes replacements a little pricey (no mass market).

Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Ken: I think it's time to knock-it-off! If you want to deliver newspapers the way you describe the job, then get a V-8 Ford or GMC Pick-up truck or Van, and quit blaming Toyota and printing 90% incorrect data! Go read all the government reports and statistical data on the Prius. The car has been manufactured (without any major changes) since the fall of 1997 and I am not aware of any re-calls. Furthermore, the Batteries are still under warranty because the 8 years is not up yet. The car is designed as a five passenger automobile and can go up to at least 600 miles on a tank of gas if driven properly. Check out the U.S. dept. of Energy report on the Prius which is available in pdf format. Also lots of pdf detail by the NREL.
Go get educated!


Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Front Cover of Dec 2001 issue of Reader's Digest - Go check it out at your local library!

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