I found this article and thought it was interesting from another owner.
Thought you all might enjoy it as well.
6/21/2006 6:51:00 AM Email this article • Print this article
Larry Brackney bought his used Toyota Prius hybrid in 2004 and averages more than 44 miles per gallon. Even after the novelty factor wore off, Brackney has been pleased with its fuel economy and performance.
Hybrids... Do they live up to the hype?
By Brenda Showalter
Larry Brackney keeps meticulous records on his gas-electric hybrid vehicle, a 2001 Toyota Prius.
Charts and graphs record when he purchased gas, how much he spent, how many gallons he bought, outdoor temperature and miles per gallon from his last tank.
In 2004 and 2005, he averaged almost 44 miles per gallon. A tank of gas carries him nearly 500 miles.
“I watch someone fill up a Hummer, and I think I could run for three or four months on that,” said Brackney, who bought his used Prius in 2004 for $14,000.
A new 2006 Prius costs between $22,000 and $27,000, depending on the options.
Other hybrid vehicles, which include ones made by Toyota, Honda and Ford, typically cost $2,000 to $5,000 more than a non-hybrid model.
Despite the higher cost, car dealerships report they cannot keep the cars in stock, with some people waiting up to six months for a new hybrid.
Brackney, who retired as director of technology for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. eight years ago, has been pleased with his Prius but knows it is not for everyone.
He is concerned, however, that too many people are not thinking more about the environment and continue to drive gas-guzzling, high-emissions vehicles.
Brackney enjoys the fuel economy of his car but also likes that it is more environmentally friendly.
Brackney’s son, Larry, also has a Prius, with its green appeal one of his primary motivators for buying.
Prius and other hybrids have a gasoline engine and electric motor that work together, taking turns powering the car depending on driving conditions.
Stop-and-go city traffic, highway driving, climbing hills and braking all affect how the car operates and whether the car uses its gas engine or electric motor.
A large battery pack, placed between the trunk and back seat, is replenished during deceleration and braking, with the electric motor converting momentum into electricity.
The cars never need to be recharged by plugging them into an electric outlet, a common misconception.
Merlyn Bartlett has driven a Honda Civic hybrid for two years and likes the technology and fuel economy.
“I love the technology that when you come to a traffic stop, the gas engine shuts off,” Bartlett said.
He also likes the variable-speed transmission and the smooth, gradual acceleration.
“It rides extremely smoothly,” said Bartlett, who lives in Columbus and works as patient representative at Columbus Regional Hospital.
Bartlett said he can smile when he sees weekly spikes in gas prices, knowing he has to fill up his tank only once every three weeks.
Bartlett understands that some have been leery of hybrids’ reliability and performance and might not have liked the hybrids’ outward design.
However, he has seen improvements in hybrid technology and its availability in larger cars, including Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and some sport utility vehicles.
Brackney said fuel economy of hybrid vehicles is only one of their draws.
Other consumers like the technology, lower emissions and helping the country become less dependent on foreign oil.
Tony Eichholz, Toyota sales manager at Wiese car dealership in Columbus, said most hybrid buyers know exactly what they want.
Those who choose a hybrid for its environmental friendliness don’t mind the extra cost, Eichholz said.
Those who purchase them for the fuel savings believe the higher cost will pay for itself over the life of the car.
Federal tax credits are available for those who purchase new hybrid vehicles, but those are expected to decrease this year.
Wiese had three hybrid Toyotas on its lot early this week, but they typically are sold within the week, Eichholz said.
Used hybrids also are becoming hard to find.
“We’re seeing more people hold on to them,” Eichholz said.
Eichholz said those who are skeptical of the hybrid technology have little to worry given the cars’ quality and warranty.
Toyota has an eight-year, 100,000 warranty on hybrid components.
Brackney had problems with his Prius on a trip to Florida that left him stranded in Gainsville. He had to rent a car to get back to Indiana.
Toyota paid for Brackney and his wife Marilyn’s hotel room, meals and rental car and had his repaired Prius towed to Indiana.
Lisa Hurley, owner of Renner Ford Honda in Columbus, said Honda offers an eight-year, 80,000-mile warranty on its hybrids.
Renner receives an allotment of hybrids from its suppliers, but they don’t stay on the lot long.
“We sell them as quick as we can get them,” Hurley said.
Bruce Townsend of O’Brien Toyota in Indianapolis said the Shadeland Avenue dealership has no hybrids in stock but has models to test drive.
Twenty-five people are on a waiting list for a Prius and can expect their new cars within three months.
Those who want a hybrid Camry have a six-month wait.
One of the complaints about hybrid vehicles is that the gas mileage does not match what is posted on the new cars.
Car dealers admit the actual mileage usually is lower, because the posted numbers are from government agencies that do testing in laboratories.
Real-life factors, such as oil level, tire pressure, weather conditions, use of air conditioners and driving styles affect gas mileage.
Townsend said Prius is listed as getting 60 miles per gallon in the city.
In reality, the figure is 45 to 52 miles per gallon, he said.
Eichholz used to commute 100 miles a day in a Prius and said he got 50 miles per gallon.
Even though some non-hybrid fuel-efficient cars might get up to 40 miles per gallon, Brackney is convinced a hybrid is worth the purchase price.
“If gas keeps going up like it is, your return on your investment is going to be really quick,” Brackney said.