Friday, February 5, 2016

Four Year 37,000 Miles Prius Update

It just occurred to me that the 2011 Toyota Prius I purchased new in February of 2012 is now four years old. I have to honestly say that the car has been even better than what I had hoped for. Besides having no problems with it, the acceleration is better than I expected and it goes through snow well. The average fuel mileage has varied and this past summer the average was only around 48 mpg. On a routine service appointment it was found the car was out of alignment and I am wondering if that could have reduced the mileage slightly, the summer before I had reached an average of 53.5 mpg.

Drives Through Snow Well 

With fuel prices so low the past year the savings in monetary terms really are not a big deal. On the last fill up I only spent $12.93 when gas was much more expensive $30 was the most I ever spent. My primary reason for purchasing a hybrid car was I am fascinated by the technology. I am the type of person that likes efficiency and doesn’t like waste.  The idea that energy can be captured while coasting or braking instead of creating wasted heat just seems so cool.  When you first drive a hybrid car and the engine turns off at a stop light it is a weird feeling but you soon adjust to it and you are happy the engine isn’t running for no good reason.

Tire Pressure Warning

Many other less obvious factors contribute to the overall fuel efficiency. Like many non-hybrid cars it has a tire pressure monitoring system that warns when the tire pressure is down below a certain minimum pressure. The shape of the car reduces the drag more than many vehicles.  One of the biggest factors might be that the engine design is more thermally efficient than the normal gasoline engine. The “Atkinson cycle” engine in the car wastes less of the heat energy, there is a tradeoff in that acceleration would be poor except that the electric assist portion of the car makes up for this. The transmission is an efficient design also. I was somewhat surprised how good the fuel mileage was on the highway which can average over 60 mpg if the speed is kept to 55 mph.

Room for Model Sailplanes
Until pure electric technology is a little more practical in a northern climate I am happy with a hybrid car. To get rid on the internal combustion engine altogether would be nice. With advances in batteries and hydrogen-fuel cell technology this should be possible.

Bill Kuhl

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