Mouse-proofing and transportation-wrestling

Mouseproofed gas line Well, my big accomplishment this weekend was mouse-proofing our kitchen.  Can you believe they were squeezing in next to the gas line to our oven?  I didn’t know they were so flexible but judging by the amount of mouse poop present, that was their primary hangout.

I found a nice guide to rodent-proofing from the Orange County Vector Control District in California (thank you, Google!) and spent a little time peering in all my cabinets and behind appliances to see if there were any other potential openings but I think this was it.  I stuffed some steel wool in a couple of other holes just for good measure.  And then I spent a very long time cleaning up a mess I had been in denial about for, oh, awhile.

It gave me an excuse to try out Thieves’ Household Cleaner, a product given to me by a friend who sells essential oils.  I’m still a little torn on how much faith to put into herbal concoctions but I thought it worked reasonably well.  Allegedly, these are herbs that were used by gravediggers back in the day so they could rob corpses without fear of contracting disease.  I think it’s a fabulous legend, whether or not it’s true and whether or not the oils are really effective.  I’m sure they help some and I must say, I’d rather have my house smell like cloves and rosemary than bleach and fake pine.  And most anything is better than mouse poop.

Hopefully that will be the end of our rodent guests although we seem to have a fresh batch of ants coming to visit.  Ah, wildlife.  Can’t you just stay outside?  I guess it’s that winter weather, driving everyone to warmer refuges.  I am anxious to do some weatherproofing before it gets too cold but this weekend was rather rainy and it just didn’t seem like the right time to be out with a caulk gun.  Perhaps next weekend although I hope to get in some camping this fall.   Mmmm, cuddling up on cool nights with a warm bonfire!  This is the season where I feel most motivated to get outdoors and I want to take advantage of it.

Today I got outside and biked for three miles.  I’m proud of myself although I did run out of energy halfway up a big hill and ended up walking to the top.  Both my lungs and my legs need to become reacquainted with the bicycle.  My new office is only about a mile away from home (and it’s flat!) so that’s going to be my new commute once we move in next week.

We’re still wrestling with the no-car dilemma.  Even without one of Will’s super special spreadsheets it looks like we’re going to break down and be traditional Americans and buy a new (to us) car.  Neither of Will’s business partners have cars and they’re planning a bunch of client meetings this fall so it would really be buying one car for four people.

Well, maybe that’s just my thin excuse for being a car addict.  Cars are so darn convenient!  And I like to do so many different things in different places!  What I really need is to develop superhero biking abilities so I’d feel comfortable biking anywhere in Bloomington.  I just don’t think it’s going to happen fast enough and it still won’t help Will take clients out to lunch unless they enjoy riding on the handlebars…

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Autumn Calamities

Chewed Up Apple TreeIt might not be clear in this photograph but this is (was) an heirloom “Freedom” apple tree I planted early this spring from Trees of Antiquity.  I had it nicely fenced in and it had grown about four feet tall with a nice healthy crop of leaves.  Then a deer came by (I think), ripped down the fence, and devoured almost the whole tree.   *sigh*  I’ve  mostly resigned myself to living in a yard of fences and barriers but it’s really frustrating when I think I have it all under control and then the tiny tree that  I’m counting on to produce apples in five years gets destroyed overnight.  (Actually, it has produced a couple of tiny leaves so I think there might be hope yet; Nature is amazingly resilient.)  I’m debating what to do to protect our latest additions – three gooseberries, two black currants, two red currants, and four pawpaws from Brambleberry Farm.  Maybe I should electrify the whole yard…

We also had a very small calamity this month involving our Earth Machine composter.  The dog somehow managed to wrap her rope around it and popped it right off the pile.  This revealed an exciting new food source, much to our disgust.  (She’s on a diet right now and her standards have dropped pretty low even for a dog.)  The composter kit came with screws originally so I guess I need to break down and screw the darn thing into the ground.  It’s a pretty nice composter although I must confess I’ve been shirking my compost stirring duties so I think it will be awhile before we actually harvest any black gold (you know, the garden kind).

Our major disaster this month is that our beloved Mazda Protege has kicked the bucket.  Will bought the car in 2003, hoping it would last him through two years of graduate school.  It lasted over six years but this weekend all the coolant drained out of the engine, causing major damage.  We could spend $3000 to get the engine rebuilt but that’s how much Will paid for the car six years ago.  So we’re now weighing our options.  Is this a sign that we should go car-free?  Could we get by with a scooter, our bicycles, and the bus line? Look for a future post with spreadsheets and complicated formulas and columns of pros and cons (we love making decisions).

Speaking of future posts, our current plan is to write one treatise… er, post per week that analyzes a project or product or concept.  We want to be generating quality articles that will keep everyone interested and also be considered for publication in our local newspaper, the Herald Times.  Drop us a line if there are specific topics you’d like to hear about.  Next week we plan to post about weatherizing our house, which is our home improvement project for the weekend.  We’re also planning to tackle passive solar heating, rain barrels, an evaluation of our portable dishwasher, an experiment with shredding fall leaves for more effective mulch, and of course our discussion of what to do with our broken car.  Will is also still thinking about green investing and I am doing some fun gardening projects with my new job at Nature’s Crossroads.  What green topics are on your mind?

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Greasecar Questions from the Mail Room

I answered some greasecar questions recently over e-mail and thought other people might enjoy reading the answers…

How has it been working out for you?
Well, I ended up selling my greasecar last year so my husband and I could share one car.  He can’t drive a stickshift and my VW was expensive to maintain so we kept his Mazda.  Generally the car was good but I had trouble finding the time/motivation to collect and filter grease.  My car also had a lot of maintenance issues unrelated to the greasecar part that were expensive (brakes, shocks, etc.).  I also think greasecars really only make sense for long drives and I just don’t take very many long drives.  We decided it was cheapest to keep his car and since it has pretty good mileage and we don’t drive very much, the environmental impact seemed acceptable.

I’ve heard there is a fried food smell.  Does it just come out the tailpipe, or can you smell it inside the car?
The smell just comes out the tailpipe.  If you have the windows down and are stopping a lot you can smell it in the car but I actually kinda liked it.

Is it difficult to find all of the oil you need for free?
Depends a lot on where you are.  I think the tricky part is trying to find relatively high quality oil so if you have some connections in restaurants and can talk a staff member into collecting it for you, that’s the best.  You don’t really want to be getting it out of big greasetraps.  In Bloomington, there was a bit of competition for oil but it also meant I could bum oil from other greasecar folks who had a stockpile.  I also knew a couple people who put together drum systems that restaurants could have out back for collecting oil that made everyone happy – it was clean and easy and the system worked well.

About what percentage of diesel do you end up using?
I used a lot more diesel than oil because I was lazy about getting oil and I did a lot of short drives that weren’t good for oil.  However, I had a friend who biked for short distances and used her car with vegetable oil for long distances and she probably used only 5-10% diesel.

When you filter the used oil, does the remaining junk have to be properly disposed of?
Yes, although I would feel comfortable putting it out with my regular trash.  It’s very gross but not really dangerous beyond being slightly flammable.  I did learn that vegetable oil will eat through rubber and asphalt if left to sit there long enough.  And it also is attractive to raccoons but gives them terrible diarrhea.  Really, filtering was probably my biggest challenge and one I never quite mastered although I think if I had been willing to put either more time or more money into development, I could have had a nice system that was easy to use.

Did you loose trunkspace for the additional tank?
Yes, I basically gave up my trunk because my tank lid did not seal quite right at first and it sprayed the trunk with a fine coat of oil.  If that hadn’t been the case, I still would have lost about a third of the trunk to fit in the tank.  I’ve seen some different systems that used a lot less space and were a lot cleaner.

Would you do it again?

Yeah, I think I would.  Like I said, I think it makes the most sense for people who take long drives (more than 10 minutes) on a regular basis and who are committed to setting up a good oil filtration system.  I know in Louisville there’s a business that does greasecar installations and also that sells filtered used oil to folks; if I had that around, I’d be way more tempted to get back into the greasecar groove.  Right now I’m transitioning into a job where I can work from home or bike to the office and so I’m not that worried about what car I use on the few occasions when I drive.  But if I ever start driving regularly again, I’ll have to reconsider.

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When does it make sense to move?

When gas climbed to $4 a gallon, lots of people talked about getting rid of their cars. It takes a while to make that lifestyle change, so gas prices went back down before most people were able to figureit out.  But since gas prices can make up a pretty small portion of the price of owning a car, it still makes sense for a lot of people to get rid of them. Since these costs are better hidden than paying at the pump, it’s hard to take them into account.
A parking meter
At some point, those hidden costs are going to be more expensive that picking up and moving closer in to town. Obviously, that point is going to be different depending on your town, car, and driving habits, but is it ever feasible?

Let’s take my friend Ian. He doesn’t drive much, so his gas costs are minimal, even when gas prices are high. Apart from driving to Ohio to visit his parents twice a year, Ian just drives downtown a couple of times a week and to the mall once or twice a month.

First, the old expenses. In addition to regular maintenance (of about $100 a year), Ian spent almost $2000 last year in repairs. Hopefully, that won’t happen again, but the car is only getting older so it will eventually break down entirely. For now, let’s estimate it at $1000 of repairs a year. Excluding gas costs for his longer trips, Ian spends about $10 a week for gas, or $520 a year. Insurance is about $350 a year. Ian owns the car outright, so he doesn’t have any loan payments, but assuming his car only lasts another three years, he’ll want to set aside at least $1000 a year to buy a new one then. If he took out a loan payment on a $13,000 car then, he’d be paying about $2400 a year at that point.

Maintenance Repairs Gas Insurance Loan / Savings
$100 $1000 $520 $375 $1000

Without a car, Ian wouldn’t have to pay for any of that, saving him about $3000 a year. If he had a new car, he’d be spending less on repairs but more on his loan (or amortized savings) and insurance, so I’m guessing this would be similar for others in the area.

On the other hand, Ian would have some additional expenses. He could pay piecemeal to ride the bus, but at $1 a ride it adds up. A semi-annual pass here is $150, which basically gives him a free month. That makes bus costs $300 a year. Ian also makes those two long drives a year to visit his family. Ignoring gas costs (which would be about the same if he drove his own car), he’ll just have to pay for a car rental (or change his lifestyle and fly or bus, but let’s try and keep things as simple as possible). To rent a car for a week costs $215 including all fees and taxes. Or, for a longer trip, Ian could rent a car and drop it off in a nearby city the next day for $100 (and another $100 on the way back). Two trips like that a year will cost Ian about $430.

Getting rid of his car will save Ian $3000 and cost him $730, a net savings of $2270 or $190 a month. If you ignore saving up for a new car, Ian will save a little over $100 a month ($1270 over 12 months).

In order to maintain his current lifestyle, though, Ian is going to need to move. The biggest problem with taking the bus from his current location is that he has to spend 30 minutes getting to the bus station and then another 15-30 minutes getting where he needs to go. If he moved to an apartment close enough to the station, the wait would only be 15-30 minutes total, about what it takes in a car from his current place. He’d also be close enough to downtown that he’d only have to take the bus when going to the mall twice a month.

Therefore, it makes sense for Ian to move if he can do so for less than an extra $190 a month. The place he lives now, south of town, costs $330 a month (his costs with a roommate), so if he can find a place within walking distance of the bus station, which is downtown, for less than $520 a month, he’s saving money.

Obviously, these numbers are different for everyone. It’s not too hard to run the numbers on your own situation and see how much of a rent increase you can cover. Then, you can decide if the kind of place you can get in a better location is worth the increase in costs. In Bloomington, a good one-person apartment downtown would run about $600 a month, which is more than Ian wants to spend. If he’s willing to continue splitting costs with a roommate, though, they could get something comparable to where they are now for $900 a month (so $450 a month in Ian’s costs). That works out pretty well.

Even though I tried to keep Ian’s lifestyle the same, there would certainly still be differences which might make it more expensive in either direction. For example, if Ian occasionally has to drive long distances for work, he’d have to add additional rental costs. Or the lost convenience of being able to quickly get to the grocery store (or hospital or soccer practice or whatever) might not be worth the savings to him.

From a purely economical standpoint, though, the price increase in Bloomington in moving downtown from the outskirts is more than made up by the ability to get rid of a car.

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Annoying Nathan about cars

A sketch of a Model T on cardboardIt’s hard to stop thinking about cars. The current situation in the US is obviously not working long-term and probably not even medium-term but it’s hard to switch away. With gas prices the way they are it’s becoming easier, but you still have to change your thinking about transportation before it starts making sense (sort of like switching from Blockbuster to Netflix). Part of the problem is that most of us already have cars, so that’s a sunk cost.

My friend Nathan just found out that his car has transmission trouble that’ll cost as much as his car is worth. Obviously, he can’t sell the car for much (maybe a couple hundred bucks to a junk dealer) and a new car would cost more cash on hand than he’s willing to put up. So Nathan is looking into other solutions. For now, he’s biking to aikido and using our car for other errands. Once we’re back in town and using it ourselves, that’ll be less useful. That got me wondering how much it’d cost to go entirely car free for those of us like Nathan, who go a couple of places around town but also take long car trips several times a year. I keep telling him that he should try it out, but I haven’t had any hard numbers to back myself up

We already have bikes, so that’s a sunk cost too. Maintenance costs will increase with increased usage, but I’d guess not by much. Maybe $50 a year to keep everything in working order. For longer trips or trips in bad weather, we’ll want a bus pass. The buses around here have spots on front for a bike, so combining the two is possible as well. A month’s pass costs $30 or $25 if you buy 6 months at a time. That covers in-town transportation and isn’t really much less convenient than driving since you no longer have to find a place to park or buy gas.

Occasionally, it’s nice to be able to haul stuff around too, like when we got our new mattress. That cost us about $30 but would have been more like $50 if the Sam’s Club had been further away. With bike maintenance and a bus pass, that adds up to $400 a year, about what I pay in gas and car insurance.

I’d always assumed that long-distance travel would be the sticking point. Maggie and I go to North Carolina several times a year and Nathan visits his family in Goshen even more often. According to Avis, we can rent a car for the trip from Bloomington to Raleigh for $80. Bloomington to Goshen is only $30! Since we have to pay for gas whether or not we own the car, that makes the marginal cost $160 per trip ($60 for Nathan, lucky guy).

We can assume that Maggie and I visit Raleigh about twice a year, which would make our travel costs $320 a year. That’s a lot, but not too much more than we spend on maintenance (it’s less than Maggie spent on maintenance but more than I have). I’m going to guess that Nathan goes up to Goshen five times a year, since it’s a lot closer. That makes his annual cost $300.

Renting a car certainly isn’t as convenient as owning but it looks like the costs are comparable, at least in our area. I’m not sure if that’ll work for Maggie, since she makes a lot of medium-range trips, but if it were just me I’d probably get rid of my car. I didn’t have one in college and it worked pretty well, especially since I was able to borrow when necessary. I feel like I have enough of a support network in Bloomington now that I think that’s true again.

Now all I have to do is convince Nathan that he can do it too!

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The Real Cost of Owning A Car Continued

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what it would take to go car-free and how the finances would really work out. My friend in D.C. is living car-free but says she was disappointed in the local carshare program because of its expense – $15/hour plus a membership fee (if my memory is correct). Andy, a car-free commenter, looked around and saw that rates are generally cheaper in other areas ($5-$12/hour plus mileage, membership). He also pointed out that living without a car and using a carshare money ends up cheaper in the long run because

1. you’re not paying those fixed costs of car ownership that no one thinks about

2. you learn to make your trips much more efficient when you are paying a price that feels expensive

In my Friday post I talked about the fixed costs of car ownership and figured that I spend about $2,000 a year before I even drive it anywhere. When I add in fuel costs, I spend about $2,800 a year or $233 a month. (I originally posted a miscalculated number of $3,600 a year; sorry.) I tried breaking my costs down on a per mile basis but concluded those numbers are misleading because the more you drive, the cheaper the “per mile” cost becomes. This became especially obvious when I compared notes with Will. He only spends about $900 a year on his car but he only drives about 3000 miles so his “per mile” cost is higher than mine.  (Viewed another way, once you own a car there is very little economic incentive to drive efficiently since most of your costs are the same regardless of how much you drive – gas being the major exception.)

I’m still not sure how to objectively compare the cost of car ownership to other alternatives except to say that if I took the $233 I currently spend every month on transportation and applied it to living a car-free lifestyle, I would have a lot of flexibility to cover bus costs and rent a car when needed. Plus I’d get the fringe benefits of extra exercise and time spent outdoors from walking and biking. Andy says his main motivation to go car-free was reading a statistic that the average American spends 95% of their time indoors and watches 4 hours of TV a day. He decided he’d rather use those 4 hours for walking or biking and let go of the need for instant convenience and superquick transportation time.

So I’m trying to figure out an option that will put me really close to car-free but still allow me to go on environmental field trips out in the boonies. For starters, Will and I are planning to become a one-car household. It should be cheaper for each of us and allow us to allot some of our transportation budget towards bicycle upgrades or an electric scooter or maybe a vacation fund. So the question is, which car do we sell? At this point, I think we will sell my car for two main reasons

1. His car seems to need much less maintenance (as in $120 versus $800+)

2. If we keep “his” car, I will be able to psychologically convince myself that I should really minimize driving since it’s “his” car. (I’m sure I could totally accept it as “my” car but I want to discourage myself a little from driving when it’s not necessary.) Will is already very good at not driving unnecessarily.

I’m sad to let go of the greasecar dream but my particular greasecar has needed a LOT of maintenance pretty consistently over the last three years. I also feel that greasecars really only make sense for commutes and long drives, which is something I’d like to avoid. Hopefully I can sell my greasecar to someone in town who will let me borrow/rent it for road trips. And maybe I’ll try again in the future with a newer diesel that (hopefully) will require less maintenance. For now, I’m looking forward to living a car-minima life.

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The Real Cost of Owning a Car

I feel like we’ve posted a lot about transportation the last few weeks but that’s where my mind has been. There were some great comments in response to my post last week about visiting a friend who lives car-free in D.C. and it got me thinking about alternative transportation. It also got me thinking about how much money I spend on my car.

I read a book about going car-free awhile back that claimed people could save $10,000+ per year by going car-free and my immediate thought was “Sure, if you have a new car and are making payments.” Of course, in the back of my mind was a little voice saying “Geez, I don’t want to know how much I spend on my car!” So I put off the calculations for awhile but I finally sat down this week and cranked through it. The numbers are a little rough because I didn’t track down all my expenses for the last two years. I also sincerely hope that I won’t spend as much money on car repairs as I did last year ($1,800) even though I am probably just deluding myself.

I paid cash for my car but lets spread that cost over 5 years and assume that I’ll get about $1,000 for it when I finally give up and sell it. I spent about $4,000 on the car in 2005 which included the grease conversion and a new set of tires. So that would be $3,000 over 5 years or $600/year.

car purchase = $600/year
insurance = $350/year
plates = $80/year ($35 for “environmental” plates)
oil changes = $200/year
maintenance = $800/year

So the grand total is $2,030 per year in base costs. Since I bought the car 3.5 years ago, I have driven 46,646 miles which is about 13,327 miles per year. That’s probably a little high considering I drove the car to Oregon and back in 2005 so lets say with my new lifestyle I drive more like 10,000 miles per year. (Yes, I like nice round numbers).

More rounding gives us $2,000 divided by 10,000 miles or 20 cents per mile in base costs. Ouch!

I figure a tank of diesel costs me about $50 and takes me about 500 miles, which gives me a nice round figure of 10 cents/mile.

So driving my car on (free) veggie oil costs about 20 cents per mile while driving my car on diesel costs about 30 cents per mile. On an annual basis, if I drive 80% of the time on diesel, I’m spending a total amount of roughly $3,600 on transportation, or $300/month$2,800 or $233/month (sorry, had a bad math moment there). This makes the bus ($1.25/trip) and carshare programs ($15/hour) seem much more affordable. If I were to sell my car and set aside $150/month for transportation costs, I could use that money for five hours of carshare time ($15×5= $75) plus 28 bus trips ($1.25×28 = $35) and still have $40 left to buy fancy accessories for my bicycle or save up for a plane ticket.

Alas, with my current job situation I need access to a car pretty continuously during field trip season so I probably can’t go totally car-free just yet. We also don’t have a carshare program here so that’s not an option. I’m thinking perhaps the solution is for Will and I to share one car but the next question is – which one? Tune in next week for another stimulating session of applied mathematics!

Your weekend homework: How much does YOUR car cost?

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The End of the Eco-Challenge

Extrme Eco Challenge - Crunchy ChickenMay is officially over so we have finished our Extreme Eco-Challenge. Our original goal of eliminating plastic was completely abandoned and our goal of generating no trash for a month was replaced with the goal of minimizing trash generation. Will and I both agree that we did pretty well keeping our trash to a minimum – until we went on vacation. We could have done a lot better during our travels but it would have required a lot more preparation, especially in terms of meal planning. I had forgotten how much trash is generated from eating fast food on the road.

Frankly, I found the eco-challenge pretty frustrating. It was an unhappy reminder of how much of an impact I have on the planet by doing normal every day things like eating. Yes, it is possible to eat without generating trash but it requires a drastic change in lifestyle that I don’t quite feel ready for. I wish there was an easy alternative that would allow me to live trash-free. Can’t we get all our food from reusable/recyclable containers made with basic materials so I never have to search for the little number on the bottom again? Would it be so hard to use regular paper for junk mail, package inserts, receipts, and other pseudo-paper debris that accumulates on my desk and challenges me to guess whether or not it’s recyclable? Could the world stop making weird little plastic knick-knacks?

Still, we have identified a few areas where we can reduce our trash generation. I feel slightly more motivated to experiment with making crackers and chips after collecting empty snack bags for three weeks. I’m also rededicating myself to the use of handkerchiefs and cloth menstrual pads. And I’m sure we’ll continue to be aware of our trash generation and be more conscious about keeping it to a minimum where we can.

June is a fresh new month and I’ve decided to embrace a new challenge… bicycling. I have biked a little already this spring, just enough to rediscover some muscles I have been ignoring for years. Now that it has warmed up, I’m ready to get my body in shape and reduce my carbon footprint. The big challenge is that I’m really lazy and it’s soooo easy just to drive everywhere. Luckily, I’m also cheap so I’ve devised a motivational strategy that involves money. Every time I drive somewhere I could have taken my bike, I will put $5 in the incentive jar. (I’m allowing myself to drive to places that are beyond my normal bicycle range, which right now is about 5 miles.)

Hmmmm. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the money at the end of the month. Will says he just finished reading about a website called StickK that helps people create contracts motivating them to reach their goals and they suggested giving the money to a charity that is contrary to your personal beliefs. However, I’m not quite ready to pledge money to the Hummer Association of America or anything. Maybe I’ll pick a lucky reader to receive my incentive funds. Well, lets assume there won’t be any incentive funds.

Hilly Hundred, here I come!

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Comparing Hybrid Oranges to Hybrid Apples

My friend Lisa recently got herself a new car and wanted to get a hybrid.  She test drove a Toyota Prius (which is what Will and I drove all day yesterday) but didn’t like the crazy space-age dashboard interface and the fact that it’s hard to see out the back window.  So she hopped on down to the local Honda dealership and got herself a Hybrid Civic.  She was super excited and decided to go one step further and change her driving style in order to maximize her gas efficiency.  I confess I don’t know much about hypermiling but the techniques she tried were similar to what I’ve heard about – accelerate slowly, try to maintain a constant speed with minimal acceleration and deceleration, allow your car to speed up a bit going downhill and slow down a bit going uphill, and forget about being a speed demon aggressive driver.  Hybrids also have little gauges so you can see what your efficiency is in real-time and adjust accordingly.

Alas, she was working hard to drive like an old lady and was getting unimpressive mileage results, especially in town.  She kept trying and ignoring the honks from the lead-footed drivers around her.  She took the car to the dealership and asked why she wasn’t getting the 50mpg mileage they touted but they told her the car was performing just fine. 

Finally, one week she got distracted and went back to her normal driving habits.  Her mileage improved although it still seemed better on the highway than in the city.  So she has returned to her old driving habits and is feeling a little better about the car but still disappointed.

I mentioned this story to my dad and he said that what most people don’t realize is that there’s a big difference between the Toyota hybrid system and the Honda hybrid system – the Toyota is a full hybrid system while the Honda is a power assist hybrid.  Both have an electric motor and a gas motor.  In the Toyota (the Prius), the electric motor operates the car at start-up and at slow speeds so it is very efficient for puttering around town in stop-and-go traffic.  In the Honda (the Civic), the electric motor operates as as a booster for the gas motor so it accelerates more efficiently and cruises at high speeds on the highway more efficiently.  So, with the Prius it makes a big difference if you accelerate slowly because you can run on the electric motor for a long time.  However, with the Civic you’re always using the gas motor so the in-city mileage is never going to be as good no matter how you drive.

That’s my understanding, anyway.  I did a very small amount of research using Wikipedia and JDPower but I’m afraid my engineering brain has been called upon too many times already today as we prepare for Rob and Angel’s weddin – fixing pumps, arranging landscapes, scaling up recipes…  So let me know if I’m off.

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