Last week I was given a Toyota Prius as a rental car.
I was excited. I had never been in one, so I was anxious to see what it was like.
I didn't hate it.
I didn't love it.
That's pretty much my reaction to most rental cars... with the exception of the PT Cruiser and HHR. I hate those cars.
I don't want to write a review about rental cars, but driving this car for several days brought up a few questions for me regarding Hybrid-Electric Vehicles.
What is the actual mileage while the IC Engine is running?
The engine started and stopped a lot on my commute each day. The starting and stopping, especially at traffic lights invoked memories of being a new driver with a very old, poorly maintained, manual transmission car.
If the rated mileage is 50mpg, I should have paid 40-50% less in gas. I paid only 20% less.
There is the possibility that the car wasn't full when I picked it up, but that is always true. My rental car company does not have a good process for ensuring the cars are full prior to pick up.
What are the emissions when the IC Engine is running?
We hear a lot about HEVs having terrific gas mileage, but we don't hear much about the emissions. If I remember correctly, the IC Engine creates most of it's emissions when first starting up.
So if the engine starts and stops 10 times on each commute, does it create more air emissions than a similar engine that is only started once?
What happens to the batteries when the car has reached it's useful life?
I know batteries have come a long way since I researched HEVs in the early 1990's. Do they get recycled?
What about maintenance?
Is there an availability of non-dealer mechanics that are affordable and skilled? Are parts reasonably priced?
While the Prius is not in the pool of cars we would consider when the time comes to replace the ones we have now. It doesn't mean an HEV or EV wouldn't work for us. I would just want to have acceptable answers to my questions and be able to fit Hubba's racing chair in the car without having to take the wheels off.