terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Turn your car into a hybrid April 14, 2008

Filed under: cars, electric car, energy — terra @ 7:00 am

A friend of mine is looking to buy a new car, and in his search, he test-drove a Toyota Prius. He was surprised that it “drove like a normal car.” But, he’s turned off by the sticker price of a new hybrid – at least $26,000. You can’t blame him there! (I got mine used for $10,000 and it drives the same as a new one, and is still covered by the warranty.) Anyway after owning a hybrid, here’s my suggestion:

Get a small car with good gas mileage. (The Honda Fit is awesome, as are any of the old favorites – Corolla, Civic, etc.) Then, turn it off when you’re stopped in traffic for more than 30 seconds! That will basically achieve the benefits of a hybrid without the high sticker price and the mandatory automatic transmission of hybrids. The only real benefit I’ve seen to my car is that it turns off when I stop. You can do that yourself in any car and save $10,000 for the hybrid technology. (Source: Consumer Energy Center)

So, pick a car you like with responsible mileage and turn it off when you’re at a stoplight. You’ll save a ton of money and gas!

I have 3 other suggestions: 1) drive your car until it dies – you still have to fix new cars, plus having a monthly payment. 2) buy a used car. 3) wait for the VW Diesel-Hybrid and run it on vegetable oil from your favorite fast food joint – that’s free fuel! Read Biodiesel Myths Dispelled

One more… get the Smart Car!! I saw one driving in Akron on Saturday night.


11 Responses to “Turn your car into a hybrid”

  1. Matt Says:

    I’ve heard that starting up your engine actually spits out a lot of emissions such that if you are ever waiting just idling in your car it’s actually more environmentally friendly to let your motor run for 2 or 3 minutes as opposed to turning it off.

    Also – I’d be hesitant to shut my motor off in case you need to move your car for any reason. I believe a Prius switches to its electric engine at a stop sign – so you are actually still able to move.

  2. terra Says:

    The Consumer Energy Center says to turn it off if you’re going to be stopped more than 10 seconds. Every 2 minutes you idle is the same amount of gas it would take to drive 1 mile. 10 seconds of idling uses more gas than turning it off and back on again.

    The Prius is better than my Civic. The Civic’s “autostop” (that’s the shut off), is pretty good, but if it doesn’t work and I know I’ll be at a light for a long time, I shift into Neutral and turn it off. The key is remembering to turn it back on! Like anything, it’s a habit. If you do it enough, it’ll become second nature, and you’ll save money.

  3. Char Says:

    Electric cars are starting to become popular again. ZENN motors actually has a dealership about an hour away. Their communityZENN (Zero Emmissions, No Noise) can only go about 25 miles per hour (can be rigged to go 35) and can only travel about 35 miles before needing to be charged. While you would still need another car to drive long distances or on the highway, it is a good idea if you travel short distances to work. Recharging the battery is equal to 50 cents in electricity.

    Also, ZENN recently announced that they are in the works to create a CityZENN to be available in Fall 2009. The car would travel 80 miles per hour and could travel 250 miles before needing charged. It only takes about 5 minutes to be recharged. The company is promising that the cost would be similar to a regular car.

    What’s more . . . it actually looks like a real car.


  4. terra Says:

    Thanks! I thought about this post this morning… I totally forgot to mention electric cars! Thanks for the reminder. Certainly my preference would be an electric car. It’s the future!

    It makes sense to have an electric car for your daily commutes, and a stink-box (gasoline car) for your longer distances. (at least until something better comes along for the distances)

  5. Matt Says:

    If the place I am getting to is within 5 miles I just hop on my bike. Use your panniers to carry your groceries or whatever. I also live in Davis, CA which is the bike friendly capital of the world. Akron just isn’t set up for riding bikes, is it?

  6. terra Says:

    That’s a great idea! When I was in Philadelphia, everyone was on a bike. It was fantastic. Akron is a little too hilly for me. Some people ride a bike downtown, and I give them all the credit because those aren’t easy hills. I hope the next place I live in is bike-friendlier.

  7. ada Says:

    we had a 1993 honda civic cx that got around 45mpg on the freeway, and around 40 in the city. the civic vx of that time did even better. both were non-hybrid. we had that car until 2006 and it still got in that range (i worked hard at upkeep of the engine).
    so i am not so impressed with hybrids, 15 years later, that get in the upper 40’s or low 50’s. it’s still better than gas burning cars, but i wonder why it’s not that much better than our 15 year old car was.
    electric cars that you have to plug in require electricity, so unless it’s solar or wind or the like, then it isn’t really “zero emission” if the electricity comes from fossil fuels…the point of emission is just moved. granted, it may be less.

    i think the only thing that will make ppl work at using less gas is more expensive gas. my humble opinion.

  8. terra Says:

    I agree! the old cars were so much better. To be honest, I’m not too impressed with my hybrid. As I said, the only notable feature I’ve noticed is that it shuts off at lights instead of idling. Idling wastes so much gas. Get the word out!

    Electric cars do use electricity, which is usually from coal. But, the amount of coal it takes to create the energy for an electric car is minuscule compared to the process of extracting and processing fossil fuels into gas. In my opinion, might be a worthwhile tradeoff while other technologies are being developed. Or, until more people have solar power. In any case, it’s another choice for people, and that is always better.

  9. ada Says:

    here’s something one of my best friends has mentioned in the past. he wondered if the average person who buy hybrids actually drive more than they otherwise would because they are getting better mpg, thus negating the gas savings.
    i thought it was an interesting question.

    another thing that i don’t hear mentioned too often is the disposal of all those batteries in the hybrids come time to do so. is the impact, in the end, worth the gas savings while in use? i don’t know since i haven’t seen studies on it.

    and why isn’t there a commuter rail between akron and cleveland? a nice one. one that ppl might actually consider using.
    there was a study done on linking ne ohio cities up with a commuter rail some years ago. what happened to that? was it discovered that for the amount of ppl that would use it, it wouldn’t be cost effective?

    and how i would LOVE to take the train to columbus and back, instead of driving down i71.

  10. terra Says:

    Those are good questions. I know I don’t drive more. I don’t like driving anymore, and I can’t afford anything when I get there because everything is so expensive! Also, I liked driving a manual car, now that I have an automatic, I don’t. If we have to go shopping, we combine our trips and go on the weekend. I don’t know how others are though. Maybe in a good economy, frivolous driving would be easier.

    The batteries last well over 10 years. I’ll try to find a source for what happens to them and if they’re any more corrosive than other batteries. Supposedly, the hybrid technology makes the entire engine more efficient, so the car should last longer, reducing the amount of waste. That is, if people would drive their cars until they die, which most don’t.

    I will check on that train!! It would be such a great idea to have a train linking our major cities. To take the bus costs $8 round trip. No way am I going to spend $8 just to take the bus to Cleveland, and then have to figure out their bus routes. If I wanted to bring my husband, it would cost us $16 just to get there. I could drive there 4 times for that price. A train would be ideal! We could definitely travel a lot more if we had a train system like they do in Europe, and we wouldn’t need to have 2 cars per family!

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