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Car shopping

So we test-drove a Prius yesterday. It was nifty. We're definitely going to try for one of these. One unexpected advantage above and beyond the environmental benefits is how quiet it is. I've been having more and more difficulty hearing in the car, especially if I'm driving. In one of these, I might actually still be able to carry on a conversation!

Get this, though: because demand for these fuckers is so high, a 1 or 2 year old used Prius is up to $5k MORE expensive than a brand new one, which can take 3-6 months to get your hands on.

What's more, the economic decision by Toyota to keep underproducing the Prius makes a twisted sort of sense. They believe demand for hybrids is only going to increase. By making new ones scarce, they can 'recycle' the used ones faster and at a higher price point, while keeping up the image of the Prius as this luxury, hard-to-get status symbol.

Compare this to your 'normal' car, whose only advantage over the masses of similar vehicles out there is that it's new and shiny and right there in the lot this minute (if you take us up on our today-only, special just-for-you financing package...) - it doesn't make sense there to try to pump up demand for used ones, because people will just turn around and buy a slightly cheaper car from a different dealership.

With the Prius, there's no competition. Sure, there are a couple other hybrids out there, but the Honda Civic is the only one that targets a similar market, and its mileage and CO2 production are significantly worse, for about the same price.


In the meantime, though, our free car rental from the insurance runs out in a week. Our plan is to find a used 2005 Prius, with enough options to include the fog lamps (a near-necessity in this little river valley of Snohomish, we're discovering). For all that the salesman at the Kirkland dealer tried to convince us that we'd never find another one if we waited till next week, autotrader.com shows half a dozen within 25 miles, so I'm not expecting to have any trouble.

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
wishingwell111
Dec. 9th, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
The biggest problem with the Hybrids is the battery.. very expensive to replace. My dad has a Prius and loved it at first.. now he hates it.
jnanacandra
Dec. 9th, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I researched that. The battery has an 8-year warranty, though, and the price of replacing it has been dropping. It was something like $4k a couple years ago, now it's $2k - still not great, but in 6-8 years I think there's a decent chance of it being manageable.

Not to mention they don't make cars to last 20-30 years anymore. Unless I turn into a DIY mechanic (not gonna happen) we may be in the market for a new car by the time the battery needs to be replaced. And hybrid/electric technology will have advanced still further.

Are there other reasons than the battery that your dad hates the Prius now?
makropulos
Dec. 9th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC)
A friend of mine has one of these and loves it (as well as inventing ever ruder names for it, but then something beginning Pri...and ending ...us does rather invite that).

I went for a ride in it and yes, it was easier for my deaf ears to hear more than they usually do in cars. But I should pass on a great tip (thanks to my friend barakta): I have a lip-reading mirror in the car. Since I can't drive, it's on the passenger side, just in the corner where it doesn't get in anybody's way, but giving a very nice view of driver's face. Not so good at night, of course, but it makes the whole travelling-in-cars experience a bit more sociable than it would otherwise be.
dr4b
Dec. 9th, 2005 08:34 pm (UTC)
Why not just look into a Honda Civic Hybrid? I've been driving one for almost two years and I love it. Infact, my car hunt went something like this:

- test drive a few random cars
- go to Toyota, ask if I can test-drive a Prius, they say "in about 2 months"
- ask when I can buy a Prius, they say "in about 7 months if you're on the waiting list now"
- test drive a Corolla, which sucks
- go to Honda, test drive a normal Civic
- test drive a Civic Hybrid
- think, "Dude, that wasn't so different, and it gets 20 miles more to the gallon? Wow."
- find out that a Civic Hybrid, which comes with all the luxury stuff, costs approximately $1-2k more than a normal Civic with all the luxury stuff like power windows and doors and steering and mirrors and...
- ask when I can buy a Civic Hybrid, get told "You want to drive this one home?" reply "No, but I'll certainly think about it."
- come back 2 weeks later, buy Civic Hybrid.
- live happily ever after.
dr4b
Dec. 9th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)
And I don't think it's the same price as a Prius. Mine was about $6-7k cheaper, at the time, at least.
cortneyofeden
Dec. 9th, 2005 10:32 pm (UTC)
Hrm. We still love our Civic Hybrid to death. I've not heard about the emmissions being worse than the Prius - where's this info coming from? On another aside, I could have sworn that the Prius was a good bit more expensive than the HCH. Has the price gone up on them significantly?

They're not quite as showy with the geek gadgetry as the Prius, but I know of many others besides us who are really happy with the Civic - might be worth at least test driving one. ::shrug:: My biggest problem with them at this point is that apparently they stopped making them with a manual option. Pisses me off. Grrrr!
usumcasane
Dec. 10th, 2005 12:24 am (UTC)
But the Honda Insight actually gets BETTER MPG than the Prius.

It doesn't have as much horsepower as the Prius (but the torque is just slightly lower and available at a lower RPM).

And don't discount the fabulous New Beetle/Golf/Jetta/Passat TDI. Diesel rocks and leads to bio-diesel. And Washington hasn't adopted California standards just yet.

Here is a comparison between an Insight, Prius, and New Beetle TDI: comparison.
jnanacandra
Dec. 10th, 2005 04:47 pm (UTC)
But they don't make the Insight anymore; plus we actually do need a 4-door vehicle.

Are diesel engines compatible or easily modifiable to run with bio-diesel? I haven't looked much into that technology.
usumcasane
Dec. 10th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC)
My step-father said the same thing about the Insight, but it is right there on Honda's website, with a 2006 model and all that.

But if you need 4-doors, then you want to look at the Golf, the Passat, or the Jetta (Passat also comes in station wagon flavor) -- all of which have diesel engines.

Diesel engines are bio-diesel ready "out of the box". In addition to bio-diesel there is also a concoction of vegetable oil that DOES require additional modification. But biodiesel is factory ready.

A quick look tells me you have at least 9 bio-diesel retailers in your general area, too (far more than we have in Austin).

Here are three good links on bio-diesel in your area, bio-diesel in general, and TDI engines.
queenofhalves
Dec. 10th, 2005 05:19 pm (UTC)
i hope the next car we get is a prius. i drool.
frater_x
Dec. 14th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC)
93

i heard you make priest crowns. Is this true? I need one.

x
jnanacandra
Dec. 14th, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC)
Why yes, yes I do :)

Email me (hfreeman at fireseastudios dot com) and we can talk more.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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Heather Keith Freeman
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