Lately, I've been on a quest to convince people if they really care about the environment, it might be better to quit buying so much stuff. If you really do have to buy something, watch out for the environmentalist hype surrounding what you are buying. And please think about what you are going to do with it when you are done.
I can't get over how many people are buying the Toyota Prius. Once a niche vehicle for environmentalists, now it seems everybody feels a need to get one. There's nothing like skyrocketing gas prices to make a person want to "save the environment". Or, if saving the environment doesn't suit your political agenda, you can always call it "reducing our dependence on foreign oil". Besides, there are lots of celebrities driving the Prius. Who wouldn't want to be as funny as Will Farrell or Bill Maher? I know that I have personally wanted to be more like Cameron Diaz many times in my life - here's my chance! According to Ariana Huffington, even Jesus would drive one.
One fact that's not too well known about the Prius is that you don't get that promised 48 mpg on the highway - that's just for city driving. Real life Prius drivers get less than 48 mpg, on average. However, I regularly beat every Prius owner on the planet with my fuel economy. I'll let you in on a little secret....I get 70 mpg, on average, every day. My carbon footprint is nearly half of any Prius driver's, including Brad Pitt. How do I do it?
It's not very glamorous. Here's how I make it happen. I carpool to work in a 2008 Ford Focus. It gets 35 mpg, per the EPA, but my carpool partner and I get 38 mpg on average. By the way, we know this as a fact because we take data. We're engineers, we can't help ourselves - we live to take data. "Trust, then verify" is our mantra. I can't tell you how many Prius drivers tell me they think that they "regularly get over 50 mpg" because they look at their vehicle's in dash monitor on occasion and see a number that they like to see and they pat themselves on the back. I challenge you to write down that number every day for 2 weeks and see what you "regularly get". I won't even make you calculate the standard deviation....but I promise you that if you look at your MPG every day, you might be surprised at what your personal average is. Try it and tell me about it, even if you don't drive a Prius.
Even if you are driving alone, a Focus makes more financial sense than a Prius. Per the EPA, the typical annual fuel cost for a 2008 Ford Focus is $2196 and a 2008 Prius is $1335. The cost of a base 2008 Ford Focus is about $15K and the 2008 Prius about $23K, so it take 10 years to break even in fuel savings. So, if you still want to buy the Prius, have you considered what you're going to do with it's batteries when you are done? Don't tell Ariana, but I don't think Jesus would drive a Prius unless he had a plan for the batteries. I'm thinking that instead, he's driving a secondhand van and using that extra cash to feed the hungry and he is carpooling with Will Farrell, Bill Maher and some of the apostles and I sure hope there's still a seat for me. I definitely think Jesus would carpool. Is the seat next to Brad Pitt still available?