Thursday, November 17, 2016

The replacement for my old Prius

Thought I'd blog about something a little less depressing.

This picture makes me look more green than I am - maybe I should show half of a Ford Fiesta instead. Regardless, as of a week ago my wife and I are down from two cars to one. She almost never drives for work, I only drive sporadically for work, and our off hours we usually either don't drive or drive together. We live three minutes' walk from a Caltrain station that we take to San Fracisco for work, and Bay Area BikeShare gets me to my office in 10 minutes.

I've got a monthly pass on Caltrain, and BikeShare unlimited rides for $90/year. My community, Belmont CA, is very walkable/bikeable if you live down by the train where we do instead of up in the hills. The main street in San Mateo County, El Camino, even has pretty good bus service every 15 minutes, although I don't use it enough.

It finally occurred to me that I could save about $1000 annually on insurance and $1k-plus in depreciation by not replacing my aging Prius, and then do an occasional Lyft or rental. We'll see if this will keep us out of cars even more, but being able to do this is an advantage that decent public transit and land use has given us.

The Prius was a great car though - 12 years, 187,000 miles, still getting 43 mpg at the end and still working when we donated it. No huge issues with it, some occasional work. I blew out the rear shocks by driving too fast on 50 miles of washboard road in Death Valley, but I may share some of the blame for that.

Two related points - Bay Area BikeShare is expanding from 700 to 7000 bikes starting next year. We're hardly pioneers with this idea, but I'm glad to see it take off here and help solve the Last Mile Problem. The bikes work pretty well - they're as durable (and heavy) as hell.

And a secret for those flying into San Francisco Airport that took me years to figure out - the city bus service is your friend. Anywhere from Palo Alto to San Francisco (depending on where specifically you're going in your city destination), bus service is likely faster than getting someone to come pick you up, maybe faster and definitely cheaper than BART, and not that much slower than Lyft or taxi, if the bus departure time is close to when you're ready. More info here.


Fernando Leanme said...

We drive a five speed diesel, fill the tank about 8-10 times a year. The problem you have in the USA is the urban sprawl and lack of public transport. But you have to get used to live in a small condo and buy a pet turtle. On the other hand it will make you get rid of a bunch of stuff, and it's really hard to misplace your lenses.

Phil Hays said...

I drive an EV, and never buy gasoline or diesel. Local grid is quite clean, mostly hydro.

Russell Seitz said...

Fernando, thank you for your thoughtful gift of a turtle driven condo lighting generator.
We were unable to find a small enough LED to try it out, but the soup was delicious.

EliRabett said...

The nice thing about pet turtles is you can put them in the refrigerator crisper for the winter.

Russell Seitz said...

If you want crisp turtle, I can recommend a restaurant in Suzhou

Brian Schmidt said...

I have a feeling that Eli isn't kidding about turtles in the fridge for winter. That's news to me.

Russell Seitz said...

The giant indopacific tortoises were almost done in by mariners who discovered they'd stay alive and edible for weeks if turned turtle in a cool hold

caerbannog said...

Got a Prius v last year (local Toyota dealers were overstocked with Prii due to the steep drop in gas prices and were discounting the bejeezus out of them -- couldn't pass up the opportunity). With dealer discounts + 2K Toyota rebate, we got the vehicle for about the price of a similarly sized and equipped non-hybrid vehicle.

Recently put it through its paces on a road trip from San Diego to Denver to the Bay Area and then back to San Diego.

Crossed the Rockies twice (with climbs to Vail Pass at 10,600 feet & Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,000 feet) and the Sierra once (Donner Summit). No problems keeping up with traffic on the long uphill grades (even passed a few pickemup trucks). Never had to floor the accelerator pedal and never depleted the hybrid battery.

Hit strong headwinds coming back to California through Utah and Nevada.

Overall MPG on the trip: between 44 & 45 (based on fill-ups, not the optimistic trip computer). And that was with lots of highway driving into gusty headwinds. From the Bay Area to San Diego (no headwinds), we got about 48 MPG (again, based on gas consumption, not the trip computer). Not bad for a wagon that's big enough to seat 4 adults comfortably and has a ton of cargo space (even with all the seats up).

As for battery-life issues -- in CARB-compliant states, the battery warranty is 10 years / 150K miles. Although battery replacement, if needed, is expensive, that's largely offset by the fact that the Prius essentially has no transmission to break/wear out. Rather than a complicated (and very expensive to repair) torque-converter automatic transmission, the Prius has a single planetary-gear assembly to manage power from both the electric motors and internal-combustion engine. It practically never breaks. (Just think about the potential rebuild/replacement cost for one of those new state-of-the-art 8-speed automatic transmissions in non-hybrid cars.)