March 17, 2013

Toyota Prius (FAQ)

I’ve owned the Prius for close to 7 months now. Been getting a lot of questions about it from people around me. From the questions that I’ve been getting, I can deduce that most people have set a similar negative reservation about the hybrid car in general, which I suspect they learned from their empirically knowledgeable family mechanic, or perhaps an old person in the family – which mostly aren’t true. Here are the most commonly perceived myth about the car (all are real questions/doubts I’ve gotten before), and my answers to the doubts.

A hybrid car / Prius is an underpowered piece of junk.
If you’re comparing to performance cars with twin turbos under the hood, yeah it’s underpowered. Otherwise, it is as normal as any 1.8 cars you can lay your hands on. Prius has 3 driving modes to choose from, depending on your needs. With a push of a button, the modes will change the accelerator’s sensitivity accordingly. Eg. if you need to go somewhere pronto and need the car to be as fast as possible, you can select the ‘Power’ mode. It’ll blow your mind away (at least it has blown mine). If you need to save some cash and pissing people by driving slowly isn’t an issue, select the ‘ECO’ mode. It’ll blow your mind away too, with the amazing fuel consumption (haven’t tried it before though, this mode). Otherwise, get a mix of both worlds by not selecting anything (the normal mode).

Air-conditioning also stops working when the car stops.
On a Prius, the air-conditioning would still work when the car stops. That’s because the air-conditioning system uses an electric compressor, just like your household fridge. So when the engine goes start-stop mode, the compressor would still be functioning. Well, unless your car’s air-conditioner is fucked up. Get it repaired. However, I can’t comment on Honda Insight though, as I do not own one. It uses a belt driven compressor like a conventional car, so I guess in a certain mode, the air-conditioning will turn off if the engine stops.

The battery needs to be replaced every now and then, and it costs a bomb to have it replaced.
EVERYTHING needs to be replaced every now and then in a car. And it does cost a bomb to have them replaced. But I think having saved on the low fuel consumption and the lack of need to replace belts – it’s a reasonable trade off. (it costs about 9 – 11k to replace the battery I heard. Cheaper than a gearbox.).

The car gets better fuel consumption in traffic and by braking, than driving in the highway.
That’s a fucked up notion propagated by guys who suck their own dicks. No car in this world saves more fuel/energy by being in traffic, and by braking a lot. Regenerative braking is a way to salvage the lost energy when you try to slow the car down. The best way to get optimum fuel consumption, is by braking less (or not brake at all), and to drive every drop of your fuel at about 80 – 90kph (city driving speed). If you get traffic, your fuel consumption is going to spike up no matter how hard you fucking brake.

The electronics in a hybrid car are annoying and mostly redundant.
Quite contrary, I think it makes the car fun to drive. Apart from the auto headlights, auto wipers, track charts, and shitloads of other screens, there’s this particular ‘summary screen’ after each drive, that gets to me every time. It’s like a scoring system for your journey. It makes you feel compelled to plan your route, and study the physics behind the drive (uphill, downhill, acceleration, traffic, et al) to get a better score in your next drive. So much so, that it turned into a fetish – in other words, it makes you plan to be more efficient, without you realizing it. I think it’s a good thing (that’s at least better than you switching off your lights to save the Earth or some stupid shit like that).

It’s inconvenient for me to charge the fucking car because I live in an apartment
A hybrid car does not require to be charged from your 3 pin plug socket you numb nut. It charges itself automatically when the petrol engine turns on, or when you brake. That’s why it is called a hybrid.

Prius is too quiet that it endangers the pedestrian.
Fuck the pedestrians, but it is not a quiet car. It does get eerily silent when it goes into full electric mode, yes, but it still emits some strange buzzing noise. But then, it escapes me why would anyone get concerned about this. Just honk at the motherfucker, he/she will know you’re coming.

The low fuel consumption isn’t good enough to justify the cost of the car.
Get a fucking bicycle. It’s cheap and it doesn’t use fuel. (nothing justifies the cost of a car in Malaysia).

A diesel car has a better fuel consumption without needing a battery.
Well, what can I say, it’s true. Get a diesel car then. But have you considered a bicycle? It doesn’t need a battery either, and it’s ZERO fuel consumption. How about that?
(Prius gets about 4.8 liter/100km, that’s about 21 km/liter, just by driving normally. If you use techniques, it can get as low as 3.8 liter/100km or 26 km/liter. My previous ride? Best I ever got was 10 liter/100km, or 10km/liter.)

Toyota service sucks and even suckier to service a complex Prius.
If any of you think Toyota service sucks, you suck. You obviously have not experienced what really is ‘suck’. Try to get a Chevrolet, a Proton or a Naza car. You’ll learn what ‘suck’ means. I personally think Toyota service is good as it is and they’re definitely good enough to service a Prius (which, by the way, is serviced like any conventional petrol powered car).

Email me if you need to know anything more about my Prius.

michaelooi  | automobiles  | 

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