Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Car Update – Electric plug in survey and algae hybrids

The Prius is having a few issues. I’ve had a slow leak in a tire that required two trips to the tire guy to get fixed. It wasn’t so bad since I had to get an oil change as well. I combined a few trips and things worked out well.

I ran into this survey that said half of US citizens would buy a plug-in electric hybrid, or consider one. That’s interesting to me as a hybrid owner. It’s worked out well for me, but it was more an economic decision for us living in the country, with relatively good weather. We drive a lot, and the 50mpg has helped us.

My last tank of gas, with the kids watching, got us to 482mi, with about 9.3 gallons of has. It averaged out at almost 52mph (51.8), which is pretty cool. Especially as we crossed 50,000 miles this month on the Prius. That’s 50,000 in 25 months, quite a lot of driving! A lot of commuting from the country to kids’ schools and even ski trips. I bet half my trips to the mountains last year were in the Prius. Saving fuel, money, and enjoying myself.


The survey above also surveyed people why they weren’t interested. Almost half (45%) listed that they weren’t sure about the technology. I think that’s interesting because the Prius has been around since 2001. While it has matured, a lot of people don’t trust it. I have a friend, who works for the city of Denver. He heard from a friend that all the Prius’ purchased by the city were being sold because of maintenance. He said that in 3 years they needed to have their batteries replaced as a recommendation from the manufacturer.

Hogwash. I can’t convince him it’s not true, even with my owner’s manual. I think his friend (and likely him) have a thing against the idea for some reason. I have a 2nd gen Prius, 2004-2007 age, and my manual doesn’t say anything like that. I’ve seen lots of people putting 200k miles (reportedly ) on their cars before replacing the hybrid batteries.

There’s also a lot of stink about the batteries being polluting and worse for the environment than a Hummer. I can’t believe it. It seems that some people are just upset for no good reason. Maybe they just want big cars, or more power. The batteries are mostly recyclable, as is most of the car. I know these are figures from Toyota, and might be cooked, An argument from Bad Templeton, and an interesting rebuttal as well in the first comment is worth reading.

I’m not sold that hybrids are the answer for the long term, or that they work for everyone, but they’re not horrible cars that break down all the time either.

There’s a cross country tour, using a hybrid that runs on a renewable fuel made from algae underway now. They’re driving from San Francisco to New York in 10 days, stopping in various cities. They go to Salt Lake City, and Cheyenne, but skip Denver. I would have gone to see it, so I’m a little disappointed.

The idea of using a renewable fuel made from algae is great, but I’m a little skeptical that they aren’t saying how much energy is needed to produce the fuel. Ethanol seems OK, but it isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to produce fuel.

However it’s another area of research, which is good to see. The more things we try, the more likely we are to find a good, renewable alternative.

(cross posted to SQL Musings)

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