Reasons why to drive a hybrid car - my experience with my new Toyota Prius V wagon.
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 and very heavy 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.
For the same reason I stayed away from only battery powered car. I did not want to take the risk of driving after one year an outdated car and suffer a big loss on its value.
Excessive warranty claims for failing batteries can kill a company.
Toyota has already demonstrated a long battery life by using a proven loading cycle of it. The only purpose of the battery in a normal Prius or other hybrids is to store electrical power won by converting kinetic energy when slowing down the vehicle and in addition electrical power generated by the combustion engine as long as this works in the most fuel efficient range. This stored electrical power is being used ion add when it is needed to support the combustion engine and very often and at lower speed.
I admit that there are many good conventional cars and hybrids from competitors on the market which will suit your needs.
To prepare an assessment analysis can be helpful and even fun. Just read the following!
How to prepare your personal "Car Assessment Analysis" to find the car suitable for you:
I used such a matrix when I was still working for big companies to support decision making for the upper management in cases such as selecting a supplier for a complex system. This proofed to be very helpful.
The following list is only a suggestion how to create such a matrix for your own purpose.
Naturally, you should do your homework before you create your personalized matrix. Visit a dealer, ask for a test drive and ask many questions. After that read tests and watch videos. You may learn additional things. I had fun doing that when seeing how incompetent and stupid some of these tests were before I decided to lease my Prius V. I got the feeling the competition gave them biased advise. A test should be test of the car, supported by test results and not include statements how a tester liked the tail lights or that he disapproves things only because he does not understand that weight saving is essential for improving the energy efficiency. They even spread the nonsense that weight does almost not matter. They do not understand the basic physics. Don't get brainwashed.
Other "testers" spend lots of time to describe how the car looks like. If you are not blind you can judge that by yourself without such a help. Be aware tat all fuel efficient cars are more or less optimized to reduce the aerodynamic drag.
Finally. you have to be the judge! It is your money. Insist on an extensive test drive on different roads at your dealer. I went to another dealership after I only got a short tour on their parking lot. This sales person did not even know the product, but he was able to drive it. Chimpanzees can be trained to drive a bike!
Don't forget to check the results of crash tests. Check trustful publications about reliability!
A brief guide how to prepare a matrix:
Include all criteria which are essential for you. See example below. Use points according to your own priority. I recommend to use assessment levels between 1 and 5.
1 = I am not impressed and do not like it
Some of the criteria which may be important for you:
Price, leasing rate
Please limit the assessment factor to four choices between 0 and 3. Select this factor according to your preference. The factor 0 means that no point are being gained in the respective category!
0 not acceptable
Total of points
multiply the number of points with the figure of the assessment points
Naturally, you will be aware how easy it is to get the final result which you want to see. Please stay honest - you do not want to cheat yourself!
Prius V wagon - enough room for our walkers...
...and additional storage space for little things....
Prius V wagon - the spare wheel
Prius V wagon - excellent aerodynamics for driving on highways
Prius V wagon - very good safety rating in cause of an accident
Prius V wagon - average fuel consumption on a trip of 230 km was 4.4 l/100km
Total km driven on June 27, 2016
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 operationMore 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
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 - don't listen to the people who tell you otherwise.
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!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