Reasons why to drive a hybrid car - my experience with my new Toyota Prius V wagon.

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136 West Main Street | Welland Ontario Canada L3C 5A2
Phone. 905-788-3577
I have severe hearing problems - please contact me by e-mail

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I am overt 80 years old and a retired engineer with extensive experience in the German automotive and aerospace industry. My job brought me to Ontario and I felt in love with Canada and became a Canadian after retirement.
Most of the time I lived and worked in Germany and I was a fanatic biker and with no or little speed limitations in the early days I enjoyed driving fast- especially with motor bikes. Always in full and heavy leather! Driving in Canada was a completely new experience for me, but to change my old habits was relatively easy and so far I only got one speeding ticket when I still was trying to adopt myself to a more relaxed driving style.
Now I have severe hearing problems, but I still listen to what is going on. In addition I have problems walking but my driving skills are still good. I was a motor cycle fan and did extensive tours mainly in Europe but also in Canada.
I am promoting now tourism and green industry without being a "Tree hugger". I see a future for creating well paid jobs in this green industry, but it must be avoided that this happens only as an extended work bench of established international companies.
Cooperating and transfer of knowledge and responsibilities by proper training after a specified time must be part of any agreement. Canadian content in the manufacturing process must be achieved unless prove can be provided that poor productivity or quality do not allow that. Sorry that statement is based on my personal experience and it is true!

Why I choose to lease a Prius V wagon from Toyota:

I immediately learned - to drive the Prius V wagon is exciting and enjoyable, but not boring and it is also easy.
The principle of converting kinetic energy back to electricity has been used for a long time. When I grew up as a child in Nürnberg, Germany I enjoyed rides in the street cars. My dad who was an electrical engineer taught me always many things and he told me that when the tram slowed down the motor was working as a generator to do that. I wanted to become a street car driver at this time in the thirties.
My dad also explained me that many delivery cars of the German post used battery operated cars to deliver parcels.
Later I became aware that battery powered vehicles could be found almost everywhere. Wheelchairs, fork lifts, toys and today scooters and even a few cars.
Presently I do not consider a purely electrical powered car as a realistic alternative to one with a combustion engine. The missing infrastructure and the still unacceptable time to charge the batteries are the main reason as well as the costs to replace the batteries after an unknown time are the main reasons. Even if a government would subsidize the lease or purchase of such a vehicle I would not go for it. Those vehicles can have a certain market later, but the future will be the fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electrical power. To fill up a real gas tank will not take longer than to fill up a conventional car and no line ups of waiting cars to recharge their batteries will occur. A main reason however is that excessive electricity created by environmental friendly sources can converted to hydrogen and stored.
Canada has already companies which are internationally well known in this business.
Tax payers money should be only invested to create jobs in our country by supporting research and development of respective technologies. Making more debts just to stay in power and punishing our young people by doing that is not the way in a good future. Please no carbon tax - spend money wisely instead!
The big oil companies and new established enterprises should be encouraged by our governments to built up the mandatory infrastructure. That would create new local jobs and if properly done without spending excessive tax payers money! For oil companies it is mandatory to survive and it is also an opportunity for new enterprises. Naturally, this will be a process which takes years.
There are already an increasing number of countries which will ban the sales of conventional cars in the near future. Just check the Internet!
I will not live long enough to experience that, but I am sure that I will see the gasoline prices going up again. The carbon tax will be only a part of it without saving the world.
For the reason I choose to lease the PriusV a top of the line hybrid car with front wheel drive. Toyota had gained a very good reputation with the hybrids including battery life. The performance and handling meet all my expectations. I liked the wagon because of the additional space which it offers knowing that the mileage will not be as good as that of the hatchback. A higher weight, and a higher aerodynamic drag are the reason, but I am still surprised and very pleased about the low fuel consumption.
I like the interior and the materials used as well as the ergonomics - but I leave the final decision up to you.
You can always argue about taste and I did not want to pay for real exotic wood or real leather. The installed safety measures and the good rating in case of a crash are much more important to me. For that reason I also keep the recommended distance between steering wheel with the air bag and my chest at the recommended 25cm or 10".
I did not consider a so called "Plug-in-Hybrid" as suitable alternative for me and my driving pattern. The range in the pure electrical mode is too small - even in summer. Furthermore the time to charge the battery is for me not acceptable and not having a garage is also a good reason to stay away from a plug-in hybrid.
So far I am more than happy about my decision. Already knowing how to drive such a car without becoming a moving road block I even used less gas in April than advertised. This will naturally change depending of the season.

Prius V
Prius V wagon - enough room for our walkers...

Prius V
...and additional storage space for little things....

Prius V
Prius V wagon - the spare wheel

Prius V
Prius V wagon - excellent aerodynamics for driving on highways

Prius V
Prius V wagon - very good safety rating in cause of an accident

Prius V
Prius V wagon - average fuel consumption on a trip of 230 km was 4.4 l/100km

Prius V
Total km driven on June 27, 2016

Prius V
Average total fuel consumption 4.7 l/100 km

How to drive the Prius V or any other hybrid car:

When you purchase or lease a hybrid car you normally do it to save fuel and help to reduce the green house effect. I experienced driving in a way to save fuel is a challenge and can even be fun.
However, you must understand the principle and you should not cause others following you to become crazy and you also must still accept road rage of drivers who do not want to see another car in front of them. It is certainly better having an idiot in front of you instead of tailgating you!
I prepared a YouTube video which shows you how I drive a Prius. It is not breathtaking, but it demonstrates that the car is not a lame duck. When somebody passed me he only exceeded in many cases the speed limit what you can also do with any hybrid. To come faster to the maximal allowable speed is certainly nice but coming fast to this climax is not enough to satisfy me when driving. Other things such as comfort, quietness, safety and saving energy are more enjoyable and have a higher priority for me.
The video presentation includes the following:
• a brief familiarization with the most essential controls for operation

• backing up and driving in the city - all in the "ECO" mode(speed limit 50 km/h), acceleration in the city, braking as little as possible to recover energy

• driving on regional roads in "ECO" mode (speed limit 80 km/h), acceleration in "ECO" mode, braking as little as possible to recover energy

• driving on a highway in "ECO" mode cruise control "On" (speed limit 100 km/h)

• driving on a highway in "Power" mode with about 80 km/h and accelerating to about 100 km/h
More information can be found in the manual which you even can read online. Do this before you go to a dealership - unfortunately not every sales person knows the product. I am still trying to find out everything - even when I will not use all the audio features because of my poor hearing.
So far I did not find too much what I do not like on my new car. I have it now since April 2016 and have already over 12 000 km on it (September 2016). I am not like some "professional" testers who compare a hybrid with a muscle car or a pure electric car which can accelerate to 100 km/h in an incredible time, but runs very fast out of power by doing that. I was aware what to expect and had the basic driving skills to use the benefits of this technology.
The PriusV is not a lame duck and is not boring at all - go for an extensive test drive and judge yourself and do not rely with your final decision on the statements of some "professional" testers. Ask for a real test drive - not only a few meters on the dealer's lot. A good dealership must not use an already sold car as an excuse for not offering that. They should have a demonstrator. It is a large investment for you and you should be convinced that a hybrid will not disappoint you.

Built in features of the Prius V which help to save fuel:

Many fuel saving features are part of the design of the new PriusV. They are:
• a well proven battery with an improved management system between the combustion engine and the electric motor / generator

• a high efficiency 4-cylinder gas engine optimized for fuel efficiency, but not so much for power

• a fuel efficient automatic transmission

• good tires with low rolling drag, but still good on wet roads (mine has Michelin tires)

• optimized aerodynamic which is especially helpful at a higher speed

• weight saving measures by using materials which do not increase the costs excessively

• a display which provides actual information about the energy management - you can see the status of the battery and wether it is charged or delivers power to the electric motor. This is very helpful to learn how to drive a hybrid! Please be aware that a standard 12 V battery is used in addition for all the other electric features of the car, but engine power is also needed to keep this battery charged - nothing is for free!

What you can do to save fuel:

The hybrid system alone will not do a good job to save fuel. It is important that you adapt your driving habits accordingly what is easy to do. The following are the most effective measures:
• don't accelerate more than required. The required power to do that is lost and cannot be recovered

• when you see a red traffic light or a stop sign take you foot from the accelerator and the generator will charge the battery for future gas savings. I practise that when nobody is behind me and use the brake only as required. Please be aware that moderate braking charges also the battery - so don't be shy to brake. The monitoring system gives you many helpful inputs

• use the air condition only when needed and keep the windows closed when using air condition. Normally, you do the same thing at home.

• do not carry heavy and not necessary things in your car - weight costs fuel!

• use a roof rack only when required - it worsens the aerodynamics!

• don't get mad when a car passes you and slows down again just to be in front of you - I still have a tough time with that - but it is better to have an idiot in front of you than tailgating you

• browse the Internet to get more tips - YouTube is a good resource!

• use the B mode offered by the shift lever only when you need the additional braking power of the gas engine. I recommend this when driving down a long steep road especially in the mountains. This prevents overheating and excessive wear of the brakes. The disadvantage is that you recover in this mode less kinetic energy and the battery is not charged as well as in the D mode which means higher fuel consumption.

• select on the main monitor"APPS" and "ECO" and you can see how your driving affects the fuel consumption. Please do the first trials on an empty road or a large parking lot - you certainly do not want to end in an accident. I learned by doing so that using cruise control will help to save fuel - the electronics are much more sensitive than a human foot.
Prius V
Watch the column l/100km

The intended use of my new Prius:

After retirement my Canadian wife and I established our own small import and export business and used Internet very early. We also started to promote tourism between certain Canadian provinces and certain German states by creating Internet travel guides. Elizabeth, my wife helped me by writing notes and taking pictures, because of my bad knees and also my worsening hearing problems. Now Elizabeth is fighting cancer and we can only travel within Ontario because of the high costs for health insurance for both of us.
To do that we needed a safe and comfortable car with low operating costs. So I leased the new PriusV. I hope that we both can explore together the northern part of our province which is certainly very attractive especially for visitors from Europe. We were surprised about the response to our German Internet travel guide for Newfoundland and Labrador.
In order to add more flavor to our travel guide I purchased a dash cam what took me a longer time than to lease the PriusV. I was very disappointed about my favorite camera shop in St. Catharines were we purchased many cameras and accessories. The nice lady was not allowed to open a box and did not get the training to answer my questions. I even contacted the head office and also the manufacturer and never got any response, so I went to the Spy Shop in Virgil and got with the help from Toyota the name of a camera installer who did a wonderful job and i do not have any lose cables in front of my face. Unfortunately, I still have problems with thew audio quality of the dash cam and my videos cannot be used to judge the quietness of the Prius

Nobody and nothing is perfect:

Since many years Toyota uses in Germany the slogan; "Nichts ist unmöglich" what means "Nothing is impossible". Naturally that is not true and even Toyota provides not everything which is possible in every car. So far I have the following complains:
• the blind spot when using the left mirror. To avoid this should become a mandatory standard part to get a new car certified!

• at bright sunshine the indicators for the actual driving mode and for cruise control become almost invisible - especially when you wear glasses which darken automatically
Please do no rely blindly on everything which you find in the Internet on reviews and tests. You pay for a lease or a purchase and you decide wether you like a hybrid or not. We have speed limits everywhere and you must define your priorities for your next car. I have my wild years already behind me and driving is not any longer a big challenge for me - except on HWY 401. I saw cars getting airborne, because they passed others on the right lane to go after that in the left lane or were tailgating.
For that reason I am happy about all the built in safety features of my Prius which is not even top of the line. I also had so far never a problem passing a slower car with my Prius.
For me it is a new fun to drive a hybrid and knowing that I can drive over 800 km with a full tank of gasoline and can fill it up everywhere in Canada - even in Labrador. Just check our Internet travel guide about our trips to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Prius V, my experience, meine Erfahrungen

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