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January 20, 2005

The Little Engine That Could?

Over the last two days, a question has circulated around our office, asked by green architect and NEW friend Rob Harrison.  His quandary:  which car should he buy to replace an automobile that was totalled?

He's narrowed his choices to 4 -- a super-efficient Toyota Prius, a VW or Subaru station wagon, or a 1992 Honda Accord -- and is weighing factors including price, reliability, safety, utility, and environmental performance.

I can't claim any special expertise on the subject, but I can say this much (and I'm preparing to duck when people start throwing blunt objects at me):  for most city dwellers, buying a new Prius is a fairly expensive way of reducing your environmental impacts.

Here's what I mean. A new Prius starts at about $20,295. To keep comparisons simple, I Iooked at similar Toyotas--they're likely to have similar safety, performance and reliability to the Prius.  The closest match--a new Toyota Corolla, which has similar interior room to a Prius--starts at $6,600 less. (A Toyota Echo, a little smaller than the Prius and with better mileage than the Corolla, starts at about $10,000 less than the hybrid.)

Of course, a Prius' operating costs are lower than the Corolla's: both have solid reputations for reliability, but the Prius sips gasoline. Over the course of 10 years, the Prius might save as much as $2,100 in gasoline costs alone, depending on how much you drive it and how expensive you think gas is going to be. (I've assumed that gas will cost $1.80/gallon in real terms, a future discount rate of 5 percent, and that the car will be driven 12,000 miles a year.) Buying a Prius may also make you eligible for a federal tax credit, though that benefit is being phased out.  But excluding any tax credit, the Prius is about $4,500 more expensive than a comparable Corolla, after factoring in its lower fuel costs. 

But saving gasoline also has the side benefit of preventing global warming emissions -- roughly 15 tons of CO2 over a decade, plus lots of particulates and smog-forming compounds. Those benefits aren't included in the market price of the vehicles -- but if they were, they'd make the Prius an even better buy.

Or, maybe not.

In reality, the cost of offsetting a ton of CO2 emissions isn't all that high.  Today's L.A. Times reports on a company that's selling what it calls a TerraPass: "essentially, a pricey bumper sticker that identifies the driver as a volunteer in the fight against global warming."  When you buy a TerraPass, the parent company buys up CO2 credits in the newly established Chicago Climate Exchange, whose member corporations have committed to reducing greenhouse emissions.  The rub:  a TerraPass that offsets 10 metric tons of CO2 emissions costs just $79.95.  If the program really works as advertised (a big if, obviously) $120 would be more than enough to offset the increase in emissions from buying a Corolla vs. a Prius.  If you were willing to commit just one-tenth of the cost difference between the Prius and the Corolla, you could make your driving climate neutral for 10 full years. For one-fifth the savings vs. a Prius, you could offset both your emissions, plus a neighbor's.  And so on.

Closer to home, Bonneville Environmental Foundation's Green Tags program lets you buy credits to support new wind and solar power projects. More renewable power means less coal and natural gas burned in power plants -- and consequently fewer particulates, smog-forming chemicals, mercury, and the like.  Buying enough green tags to cover the 10-year difference in CO2 emissions between the Prius and the Corolla costs about $420.

Or if you're into tree planting, Reuters reported today that, according to a new Pew Charitable trust study, large forest-based carbon sequestration projects could remove CO2 from the atmosphere for somewhere between $25 and $75 per ton. And the list of cost-effective carbon-sequestering projects (including contributing to organizations working for legislative and policy changes) goes on and on.

Now, before you start getting all mad that I'm not being fair to the Prius, I do want to point out two other things to consider. First, driving a Prius--which qualifies as a "super ultra low emissions vehicle" under California rules--prevents pollution where you live. For CO2, that's irrelevant. But for other pollutants, it might matter: driving a Prius is a surefire way of reducing your contribution to local air pollution. The other options -- Green Tags and the like -- still prevent pollution, but possibly not in your neighborhood.

Second, in the abstract I still love the Prius, and wish it (and its hybrid successors) well. I want gas-sipping hybrids to be so successful that they completely transform the automotive marketplace. They're already starting to -- and by buying a hybrid, you're helping speed that transformation along. But that doesn't mean that there aren't other, more cost-effective ways of achieving the benefits that the Prius brings.

Of course, your mileage may vary. The Subaru Outback's a gas guzzler in comparison with the Corolla, which makes the potential cost savings of choosing a Prius a little higher. Nevertheless it seems like a sound environmental choice would be to buy a safe, inexpensive car, and contribute some or all of your long-term savings to a program that's working to reduce CO2 emissions (either directly, or through changes in policy).

Bonus: Just because it seemed like it might be helpful, I'll include a handy guide to gasoline costs and CO2 emissions from your car.  Notice the diminishing returns: trading an SUV that gets 15 mpg to a midsized car that gets 30 mpg is twice as beneficial as switching from 30 mpg car to a hybrid that gets 60 mpg.

Estimated tons of CO2 emissions, and present cost of gasoline, for a car driven 12,000 miles per year for 10 years (guesstimating that gas will cost $1.80 per gallon in constant dollars):

Actual MPG Tons CO2 Cost of Gasoline
15 88 $11,552
20 66 $8,664
25 53 $6,931
30 44 $5,776
35 38 $4,951
40 33 $4,332
45 29 $3,851
50 26 $3,466
55 24 $3,151
60 22 $3,888
65 20 $2,666

Update: I changed a few of the dollar figures in the table above, based on a slightly different discount rate.  And see a later post about why automobile efficiency has diminishing returns.

Posted by ClarkWD | Permalink


Comparing the Prius to a Corolla is not comparing similar cars-the Prius is a mid-sized car like the Camry, Passat or the Taurus. Keep the comparisons of equal value and the Prius comes out very well.

Posted by: Phil | Jan 20, 2005 4:33:38 PM

Clark, this is one of the reasons I love NEW--coming at issues from unexpected but logically indisputable directions. Rem Koolhaas calls his similar tack the Paranoid Rational Method. (But that's another discussion.)

To the above, I'd add something else Alan and I have talked about: the ecological cost of every dollar spent. Let's say a used 2001 Prius retails for $14,000, and the 1992 Accord could be had from a private party for $3,000. If we buy the Accord, that's $11,000 that _doesn't_ ripple out into the economy creating environmental impact as it goes.

Then again, if we were ever in an accident (say with a 6,000 pound 11 mpg SUV) and a newer, safer, more expensive car better prevented injury to me, my wife or our young son, the $11,000 difference in initial capital cost and its associated ripple environmental impact could be easily offset by savings in our medical costs. (Not even considering the obvious emotional issues here.)

Still torn.

Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Jan 20, 2005 4:59:44 PM

Phil: that's quite possibly right. Overall, the Corolla is a bit smaller than the Prius, the Camry a bit larger (more than a foot longer, for example).

Probably the bigger reason to compare the Camry, though is that it has more bonus features standard, much like the Prius. "Loading" a Corolla probably narrows the price difference. Of course, those weren't things that Rob was really considering...

Posted by: Clark Williams-Derry | Jan 20, 2005 5:09:45 PM

Here's something else to consider: a 92 mpg Honda diesel.


Diesel will get even cleaner next year with the phase in of ultra low sulfur diesel. Haven't compared the emissions, but it should stack up pretty well. Only thing better might be a diesel hybrid depending on driving habits.

Posted by: Rick Gresham | Jan 20, 2005 8:46:40 PM

The answer is, "None of The Above". Why buy a new car when you can share one with your neighbor? Mr. Harrison has a unique opportunity here to actually make the leap to being a human being, in this crazy car culture country, who does not OWN a vehicle. What? Huh? How?

Flexcar started in Seattle 5 years ago and now has over 130 vehicles in the Greater Seattle area. As a business owner, Mr. Harrison could also start up a business account like many of the other 100plus Seattle companies who have signed up with us for their urban mobility needs.

Lastly, your CO2 discussion was interesting. For your information, Flexcar has a partnership with the American Forests conservation group to ensure that enough trees are planted every year to offset greenhouse gases in the exhaust from its fleet of cars. For more information, follow this link:


Lastly, any and all other specific information about Flexcar can be found at our website. If not, please feel free to contact me directly.

"Shift Your Thinking" people! Don't buy a new car, share a new car!!


Posted by: Toby Weymiller | Jan 21, 2005 10:56:00 AM

But - owning a car leads to "sunk-cost" thinking about car use. You pay a lot up front to own and insure a car, but very little to use it, and so it becomes a perversely skewed incentive. Consider all your options -- and consider the totalling of the car a golden opportunity to examine your various choices and assumptions.

In Seattle you have many choices to get things done....Doing work, shopping, and other engagements locally and in efficient multi-purpose trips. Using telephone, computer, walking, bicycling, bussing, training, occasional cabbing, and carsharing (www.Flexcar.com) when you go somewhere you need car to get to. Carsharing puts the price entirely on use, with no purchase or carrying costs. I sold my car after a year of Flexcar - it fills the gap in an environmentally committed, but realistic and busy person's spectrum of transportation choices.

Posted by: Emily Allen | Jan 21, 2005 11:11:43 AM

Interesting link Rick! If only they'd bring the diesel Accord to the US.... We looked at biodiesel. My friend and mentor David Rousseau brews his own from waste vegetable oil. I think biodiesel will become a really good option for us in three or four years. Right now, the closest sources are in West Seattle and Ballard. We could start our own co-op , but as somewhat harried parents of a lovely nineteen-month-old boy, that project will have to wait until we catch our breath. I'm seeing this next vehicle purchase as a bridge.

Thanks Toby and Emily. Flexcar is a great option for many people in the urban village neighborhoods of Seattle, especially for those who don't have small children. We live in Mt. Baker. The nearest Flexcar station is 1.5 miles away, at 23rd & S. Jackson. In 2008 or so, when Light Rail service and its associated development comes to MacClellan and Rainier, there will (hopefully) be more good options for shopping within walking distance. Now, PCC is a 6 mile round trip, as is Madison Market.

Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Jan 21, 2005 12:43:27 PM

PS. Toby tells me Flexcar doesn't have carseats for babies or toddlers in their vehicles, which pretty much nixes that option for us, even if there were a closer station. If we needed this car for me, for work, it would be a great way to go, but this vehicle is going to be driven 95% of the time by my wife, carrying our son.

Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Jan 21, 2005 12:51:52 PM

Given the growth in the number of Chinese citizens who want cars and Indian citizens who want cars, as well as the possibility that the "peak oil" period will hit soon, I think the $1.80 constant-dollar cost for gasoline over the next 10 years is an underestimate. How would the scenario look if you assumed gas prices would rise? Say $.05/gallon per year for the "moderate" scenario, $.10/gallon per year for the "uh oh" scenario.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio | Jan 21, 2005 2:11:42 PM

Jamais -- Some people would say that 10 cents per gallon is the *optimistic* scenario -- which does improve the Prius's relative value over other cars still further. Personally, I think the chances of near-term oil price spikes are troublingly high. But professionally I'm neutral -- future prices are notoriously hard to predict, so it's something that we at NEW just plain try not to do. (After all, futures traders haven't been any good at predicting oil prices for the past few years, and that's their job. I don't think I could do any better.)

But it's a great question to ask, just to see how the numbers fall out.

Assuming that gas prices rise 6 percent per year for 10 years in real terms -- or about 11 cents per year in the first year, and more thereafter -- a 51 highway/60 city mpg-average Prius driven 12K miles per year saves a little over $2,700 in gas costs over 10 years vs. a 32/40 mpg Corolla. (Again, I'm discounting future years' expenses by 5% per year.)

A couple obvious points -- these all just ballpark estimates of actual costs; I'm ignoring potential repair costs, including potential battery replacements after a Prius warranty wears out. I'm ignoring depreciation; the old Prius depreciated quickly, newer ones seem to be about average for cars. If you plan on holding onto your car for 15 years, or until it runs into the ground, the cost advantage of the Prius grows some. If you drive a lot -- say, you operate a taxi, where gas comprises a significant percentage of operating costs -- the Prius looks better still.

But in terms of your *personal* impact, if you're deciding between, say, running an old, relatively clean Accord that still gets >30 miles per gallon, and a new (or new-ish) Prius: provided that you're willing to contribute a good chuck of the cost difference to offset your carbon and other pollution emissions, the Accord could be a pretty good deal.

(That doesn't mean that I wouldn't still want the Prius, though. Mmmm, Prius....)

Posted by: Clark Williams-Derry | Jan 21, 2005 4:09:19 PM

You're right: predicting these things is notoriously difficult. That's why it's useful to do different scenarios -- your baseline gas price remains $1.80 (constant $), a more radical 6% per year, then maybe something like "growth rate starts at 3%, doubles every other year" to reflect a sharp curve scenario. It could get *really* complex if we wanted to get fancy, too.

Of course, none of that detracts from the point that buying a hybrid is as much a social/philosophical decision as it is an environmental or economic one.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio | Jan 21, 2005 5:40:09 PM

Clark, your logic makes sense to me. Not all of us enviros are affluent enough to buy a new hybrid without thinking through the math very carefully.

Recently I was faced with the unfortunate task of buying a car, and so I settled on a 1989 Honda Civic. I got lucky; the car cost $2,200 but had only 104,000 (real) miles, and gets 35+ mpg. I expect to drive this baby into the ground (or until I'm willing to take a risk on a used hybrid).

It may be useful to note the reason why I felt compelled to buy a car after avoiding one for a number of years: I wanted to buy a house in the Olympia area (where I work) before interest rates and home prices soared out of reach, but could only afford a place well beyond bike-riding distance from my job.

This was greatly disappointing to me, because I had genuinely enjoyed staying out of a car. In theory, I could have spent an extra $30,000-$50,000 on a house in Olympia proper, but in practice my salary is such that I couldn't afford the extra mortgage costs even after subtracting the "full" costs of car ownership over the life of the mortgage. (Please don't apply the cost of a new car to my situation; I've never bought one, and will never will until I pay off my Lexus-priced student loans.)

Unfortunately, land-use policies and mortgage-lending practices to some degree "drive" transportation choices.

Posted by: Steve Salmi | Jan 25, 2005 8:39:21 PM

My personal choice would be the hybrid with a terrapass. You do make some compromises on new manufacturing dollars, but the tradeoff in emissions reduction is worth it, not to mention showing other auto companies the customer of the future (vote with your dollars)

To be absolutely climate neutral, you should offset with a TerraPass or other carbon reduction mechanism. Our Hybrid product is $29.95/year



Posted by: Tom Arnold | Jan 29, 2005 8:06:07 AM

Tom: Just had a look at the TerraPass website. Interesting idea, if it works. A banner says "TerraPass members have reduced CO2 emissions by 2,684,000 lbs." How is that number calculated? Are you multiplying the values given for CO2 offset with each of the passes (6,000 lbs for a $29.95 hybrid pass, for example) by the number of passes sold, or do you have a reporting system of some sort that tracks the results of your investments in industrial projects? If the former, your CO2 reduction figure is unfortunately meaningless, if not outright deceptive. If the latter, I'm impressed, and I will sign up immediately!

Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Feb 2, 2005 12:11:00 PM

Absent from the discussion here is any mention of the embodied energy involved in the production of a new vehicle, or of the nonrenewable resources consumed and waste products generated in the process. The more we can extend the lifespans of the cars we drive, the more we can reduce our overall environmental impact.

This isn't just a matter of direct greenhouse gas emissions. It includes all of the energy required to produce, assemble and transport the components (much of which comes from fossil-fuel sources, often coal-fired generating plants,) as well as the entire range of waste products and impacts involved in mining and smelting steel and aluminum, and creating the many synthetic materials that give a car "that new-car smell."

If you're looking for a quantitative analysis of costs and benefits, trying to include such considerations can introduce a whole new level of uncertainty into the calculations; I, for one, don't have relevant data at my fingertips. Nonetheless, it's valuable to pause and think about the way the consequences of our choices ripple through the web of consumption and production. In general, the less "stuff" we stimulate our economy to produce, the smaller our collective footprint on the planet becomes.

My own car isn't the most fuel-efficient I could afford to own, but it's 20 years old and has a lot of miles left in it. For now, and for some years into the future, I'm helping to short-circuit our culture's consumption mania, and in the meantime I offset my driving impacts with green tags.

Posted by: Terry Grytness | Feb 5, 2005 12:38:47 PM

Interesting point Terry. However, if the embodied energy in a car is anything like the embodied energy in a building (which is all I really know about), it pales as a factor compared to operating energy: Embodied energy in a building represents somwhere around 3% of total energy consumed over the life of a building. So, in designing a building it makes sense to first reduce energy consumption, then, once you've gone as far as you can go with that, start working on reducing embodied energy. Look at it like this--if embodied energy is 3% of lifetime energy use in a builidng, reducing embodied energy by 75% (!) would only reduce the energy the building used over its lifetime by 3/4 of 1%.

Although the lifespan of a car is of course much shorter than a building, I suspect that the ratio of embodied energy to lifetime energy use for cars is even more dramatically skewed toward operating energy, especially since so much (by weight) of a car can be recycled at the end of its useful life. (If we're talking cradle-to-cradle here.) I bet someone like Clark with a better handle on numbers like these can enlighten us....

Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Feb 5, 2005 11:05:42 PM

Sorry, way too late to be crunching numbers in my head. Reducing embodied energy in a building by 75% would reduce lifetime energy by 2.25% for a building in which embodied energy represented 3% of lifetime energy. Or thereabouts.

You get the idea.

The '92 Civic VX (50 mpg!) which was stolen and totaled and thus started this whole discussion was the newest car I've ever owned. So I'm right there with you Terry.

Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Feb 5, 2005 11:16:03 PM

The last time I checked into embodied energy in vehicles was in the early 1990s. At that time, it was something like

three years worth of driving energy = production energy for a new car and all its ingredients

I have a feeling that I saw something more recently and that the value was different. But I can't remember more specifics.

Posted by: Alan Durning | Feb 7, 2005 2:28:45 PM

Here's a summary of a pretty credible-seeming analysis of the lifecycle impacts of owning vs. operating a car:


The conclusion: most of the toxic emissions occur during mining and manufacture; but over a vehicle's lifetime, driving your car uses 8 times as much energy as building it.

So Rob's right, using a car is a bigger deal than owning it; though that's less the case for cars than for buildings, probably because cars don't last as long.

Note that this is for a 1990 Ford Taurus, 21.8 mpg, with an estimated lifetime of 14 years; I don't know how many miles per year it assumes, but probably the national average.

I have no idea how a Prius compares with a Taurus in terms of energy consumed during manufacture -- the Prius's batteries may have an impact there. But assuming that manufacturing energy is similar between the two, the Prius uses about half the energy over its lifecycle as the Taurus, including the energy costs of service and insurance.

Posted by: Clark Williams-Derry | Feb 7, 2005 8:26:08 PM

Thanks for the lifecycle energy info and especially for the link to the ILEA site; it gave valuable data and stimulated some useful thinking. According to the research reviewed by ILEA, manufacturing accounts for about 10% of automotive lifecycle energy use. If the hybrid reduces total energy use by half, as you suggest, then manufacture rises to a much more significant 20% of the total. Nonetheless, use still overwhelms manufacture as a source of energy consumption by four to one.
On the other hand, another and more recent report reviewed by ILEA (http://ilea.org/lcas/taharaetal2001.html) gives total CO2 output comparisons for gas, hybrid and electric cars. The data there indicate a savings of only about 10 metric tons of CO2 over the car’s lifetime, much less than the 15 tons mentioned in your initial posting. Of course, the ILEA review doesn’t mention what the Japanese authors’ fuel economy, lifespan and other assumptions were. This highlights the danger of taking too literally “facts” and figures that commonly vary from study to study. What matters most, in my opinion, is the process of informed and thoughtful decision-making that Rob Harrison has clearly used in making his choice. NEW is an important part of raising public awareness of many environmental issues, thereby contributing greatly to that process, something you have every right to be proud of.
As a congenital analyzer and compulsive examiner of multiple facets, however, I’m leery of focusing too much on single aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions. In this regard, a couple of things come to mind. First, the ILEA review you cited points out that “the emissions of substances that are toxic to humans don't correlate very well to energy. Emissions of toxics tend to correlate more closely to direct human health impacts, rather than environmental impacts.” Those health impacts deserve our consideration, too, and the review concludes with the observation that “if you are a person who considers toxic releases more important than energy use, then it is wiser to hold on to your existing car, in order to avoid promoting the manufacture of a new one.” Using their figures, cutting lifetime fuel consumption in half has the effect of making manufacture responsible for over 70% of total toxic emissions, one more reason to build and buy fewer new cars.
Second, I’d like to note a comment made yesterday at a conference on “Climate Change, Energy and the Future of Washington State,” hosted by the graduate program in environmental studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia and co-sponsored by Climate Solutions. The speaker was Dr. Eban Goodstein, professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College in Portland. He pointed out that Toyota has joined the automakers’ lawsuit against the state of California’s effort to impose stricter vehicle standards, and said, “So if you’re thinking of buying a hybrid, you might want to buy a Honda and let Toyota know that they need to withdraw their support of that suit.” Having said all that, I still intend that my own next car purchase, several years away at least, will be a (used) hybrid, if I haven’t learned to live car-free by that time.

Posted by: Terry Grytness | Feb 12, 2005 12:46:44 PM

I'd like to thank everyone for contributing to our thinking about replacing our stolen and totaled '92 Civic, and update you all on our conclusion.

We bought a 2003 Mini Cooper!

Clearly not, at first blush, the staid family car we envisioned when we started our research, but we're very happy with our choice. We test drove a number of used cars: a Prius, a VW Passat sedan, three Jetta wagons, a Golf, a Subaru Impreza wagon, a BMW 325xiT wagon and the Mini, as well as the '92 Accord loaned to us by friends. We transferred the baby seat (and our baby) in and out of all of them. I researched mileage, reliability, safety and pollution issues.

We will drive this car 5,000 or so miles per year, 65% city/35% highway. (Maybe one or two trips to PCC for groceries, one trip to the moms and babies group, one trip to toddler gym, a couple trips to visit friends per week, plus the occasional road trip to the mountains). It will be driven mainly by my wife Frith, carrying our son Rowan. I should say that our "other car" is my 50 mpg motorcycle, which I use year-round for transportation to job sites and such. But that's another discussion. :-) Here are the stats for the cars we seriously considered:

tons CO2 per year - miles per gallon city/highway

2001 Prius
1.3 tons - 52/45

2003 Mini Cooper
2.0 tons - 28/37

2003 Jetta 2.0
2.4 tons - 24/30

2001 Passat 1.8T
2.5 tons - 22/31

2001 Legacy/Outback 2.5
2.7 tons - 22/27

Ultimately, we decided we wanted a smaller car. The Passat, Outback, and BMW wagon were just too big. The Prius was not confidence-inspiring at highway speeds, and the first generation regenerative brakes were grabby. It came down to a choice between a Jetta wagon and the Mini.

The Jetta wagon would have been perfectly adequate. Realizing though that we could have 20 years of station wagon driving ahead of us tipped us toward the Mini. It works superbly for 95% of what we need a car for now, as a family of three. For the other 5% we can trade cars with friends, all of whom seem to have station wagons and are eager to drive the Mini....

We discovered (somewhat to our surprise) that it's actually easier to get our son in and out of a two-door car than a four-door. Two-door car doors are longer, and the front seats slide forward, leaving more room to maneuver. All of the smaller wagons and sedans we drove were much less comfortable for a person riding in the back, because the car seat goes in the middle seat, leaving not quite enough shoulder room on either side for an adult passenger in the rear. In a smaller car like the Golf or Mini, the seat must go full on the left or right, leaving a full-size seat in the rear. The outward position is less safe than the middle, but the Mini has side air bags, which mitigates that concern somewhat.

The Mini was most fuel-efficient car in its class in 2003, and gets only slightly worse city mileage than the Prius.

In the end though, it was the Mini Cooper haptics that sold us. The design and feel of the car perfectly fits my approach to green architecture. I.e., energy and resource efficiency can be beautiful! Compact is good! No hair shirts necessary! The Mini is a "not so big" car. It is a complete blast to drive. Why shouldn't an environmentally friendly vehicle also be fun? In the face of the SUV craze driving a car this small makes a statement different but I think complimentary to driving a hybrid. Less is more!

I'm looking in to green tags, to offset the carbon generated, but still haven't found a system I'm completely sold on.


Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Mar 4, 2005 5:25:25 PM

Correction: The Mini doesn't get anywhere near the city mileage the Prius does! 28 mpg for the Mini vs 52 mpg for the Prius. Ah well.


Posted by: Rob Harrison AIA | Mar 4, 2005 10:50:28 PM

Just bought a new Prius and I agree it is more a philosophical decision than a practical one. Even at the current gas prices - $2.63 (were they really $1.80 at any time?) the economics do not work in its favor. But... stay long enough at a traffic light with the traffic around belching fumes and you start to get a sense of appreciation for your hybrid sitting silently playing the music without the vibration of the engine. My point - it is the little micro things like that matter more than 10 year projections from a day to day existence perspective of an induhvidual

Posted by: dinesh katyal | Apr 21, 2005 4:17:25 PM

Good point, Dinesh. There are lots of great reasons to buy a Prius, in addition to its fuel efficiency. I like its styling. It's quiet. It doesn't pollute your own neighborhood. So by all means, enjoy it--after all, if you have to be stuck in traffic, you might as well like what you're riding in.

Posted by: Clark Williams-Derry | Apr 21, 2005 4:50:46 PM