2002 Prius: Our first hybrid
When our daughter was in college, we decided to give her my car since she was spending a lot of time taking buses to her part-time job.
Meanwhile, we had ordered a 2002 Prius—at that time, a six-month wait!
We had that car about eight years and 100,000 miles. We really enjoyed driving it, and it was pretty much trouble-free all that time, except for the air-conditioner. We spent a few thousand supposedly fixing it, but the A/C never worked well after that. When we were going to spend a week in the summer in Washington, D.C., we decided it would be wise to turn it in for a car with a working air conditioner. We've always somewhat regretted that decision, since the Prius was our favorite car ever, but I've always been reluctant to keep a car so long that maintenance becomes an issue.
Our new 2012 Prius
This was at the time when Toyotas were having an accelerator problem, so we decided to get a Honda hybrid. We got a used Honda Civic hybrid since we expect to get some sort of plug-in hybrid when they become available and have proven themselves for a year.
Unfortunately, when the Prius plug-in hybrid became available, it just was out of our price range, and we couldn't justify the extra expense. Instead, (after briefly considering the larger Prius V) we bought the regular Prius, which gets pretty good gas mileage. And since we don't drive very much, I guess that will have to do for now.
Why did we get a new car at all? There was nothing wrong with our Honda Civic hybrid, but we found that we needed a little more useable space, which the Prius hatchback gave us.
Becoming a one-car family as our son drives away
After buying the used Honda Civic, we gave our son our 12-year-old Sienna van, which had only 80,000 miles on it. (I have to admit that I get nervous driving an older car regardless of the miles.)
Now we were in the market for a second car. We explored all the available larger hybrids, since we've always had a smaller car for most trips, and a larger car for carrying larger things.
But one evening we had an epiphany. Did we really need a second car at all? Most of the time both of our cars sat in the driveway. We decided to again give one car a try.
We have found that there has been only one or two occasions where we've had to ask someone for a ride to a meeting over the course of the year! We go through our schedules each week and plan out any meetings or other commitments around each other's schedule as best we can. It hasn't been difficult.
Meanwhile, we've saved a LOT of money:
- The cost of the car itself (in the $25-$30K range)
- The cost of insuring another new car
- The cost of maintenance
We've saved our own time and energy:
- The time involved in maintaining a car
- The time getting it registered, inspected, insured etc.
We've benefited the environment:
- The embedded energy and materials involved in creating yet another vehicle
- The extra fossil fuel and other oils etc. involved in a larger car, even if it's a hybrid
All in all, we've been happy we made the decision to have just one car rather than unthinkingly assuming that each person has to have their own personal vehicle.
But I think one of our main contributions is that we don't drive all over the place. Our 12-year-old van had 80,000 miles, and our Prius would have had fewer miles except that our children often took it on trips.