Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letter to "Prius Diary, First Anniversary Edition"

We submitted this honest assessment to the Times this morning.

When we bought our 2003 Prius (aqua blue--bring it back!), the improvement in our gas mileage would in no way pay for the increased cost. We did the math, but wanted to let our wallet speak for our support for the concept.

The hybrid technology is a significant improvement, and the ability to combine various power sources and re-use the kinetic energy from braking is something that will end up changing our world.

In the meantime, we would rate the car as a moderate success: it was not rugged enough for the bad roads here in Taos (particularly the skinny tires), and the gas mileage in town was only 35-40 mpg (the highway mileage was 55 or so, as advertised). We had one major problem in the first year, with the auxiliary battery (which starts the car and its computer systems, and is not rechargeable): after going through a gauntlet of check, re-charge, and re-check, Toyota did come through and gave us a new lithium-ion battery (value reputedly some $3000!) which fixed the problem.

We viewed our oldie hybrid as a collector's item, and one that would actually increase in value. How sad, then, when it was totalled recently in a one-car encounter with a utility pole at about 15 mph.

The federal government should renew for the Prius the credit given for other hybrids: Toyota should not be penalized for the popularity of this model.

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