I recently took a trip to Awaji Island to visit the earthquake museum there (see other blog post) among other things. It's a 200 km round trip by car from Itami City in Hyogo Prefecture (where I'm staying this week) and I decided to rent a Toyoto Prius.
The rental cost ¥10,500 for the day; the tolls were ¥7800; and (drumroll) the gasoline only cost ¥1350 for 10 liters. That works out to 20 km / liter or about 47 mpg! According to the car's computer, the average mileage was 23 km/liter or 53 mpg. I think the discrepancy is because the tank may have been a little less than full when I picked it up (and reset the odometer/drive computer). **
** The exchange rate is ¥113 to US$1 and plummeting.
In any case, let's take the average to be: 50 mpg.
This was for mixed city / highway / island / mountain driving with four passengers. Wow.
Everything I had heard about the Prius: poor acceleration, poor visibility, little luggace space, jerky braking, mileage not as high as advertised, etc. proved not to be true. The acceleration was great, visibility is fantastic (especially with the back view LCD monitor/camera), there was more space in the back than I thought, and I couldn't tell when the car was using ICE, electric motors, or regenerative braking -- it was that smooth.
I'm totally in love.
Sign me up for one when I get back.
What surprised me is that the Prius gets even better mileage than the little K-car (600 cc engine) that I use when I'm in Hokkaido. I got about 13 l/km on the K-car or about 30-35 mpg when driving around the island with 3 passengers.
Some backstory to my wanting a Prius is necessary. In grad school, I had a fantastic little Honda Civic hatchback which got about 40 mpg on the freeway (30 in the city). It lasted me 13 years before I sold it after moving back to Connecticut. Its replacement was a behemoth Nissan Pathfinder which got about 10 mpg. We bought it since we needed a larger car to move furniture and whatnot. Fed up with its bad mileage, we sold it right before we left for Japan in the summer.
In addition, there are the following benefits to getting a Prius (in Connecticut):
- Federal: For 2007, the Federal incentive is $787.50 but this expires in September and I'm not sure what will be the case for next year
- State: Prii are exempt from sales tax. This is quite big! Up to $2000 or so, I think depending on whether you buy new and / or loaded with options.
- Local: New Haven -- hybrids are exempt from street parking fees (need to double-check).
- Job: No benefits for hybrids from my workplace. Boo hoo.
I'll need to do some additional spreadsheeting to see if the Prius breaks even compared to a regular ICE car, but I think I can making a convincing case to my family's CFO that the car is a winner.