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Old 08-12-2009, 10:18 AM   #41
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Good points Nords for the most part
An ICE is generally 15%-20% efficient. Most all utility plants are more efficient than that.
As for efficiency from a PV array, I am with you all the way
Unfortunately in my case I don't produce enough PV power to power the house entirely and the EV/PHEV yet. I am hoping to in the future. But since my utility's power is pretty efficient (coal, natural gas, nuclear and wind), and much more efficient than the ICE I am happy to power my PHEV that way.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:38 AM   #42
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As for efficiency from a PV array, I am with you all the way
Unfortunately in my case I don't produce enough PV power to power the house entirely and the EV/PHEV yet. I am hoping to in the future. But since my utility's power is pretty efficient (coal, natural gas, nuclear and wind), and much more efficient than the ICE I am happy to power my PHEV that way.
We're still consuming ~100 KWHr/month but I suspect that will drop dramatically when our kid starts college.

However I think a plug-in will still require more generation capacity. I haven't done the math between refueling at $2.95/gallon or 22 cents/KWHr, but I'm looking for a 5-7 KW inverter. When spouse finds the pergola of her dreams for the south side of the house then I have plans for the surface area on top...
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:49 AM   #43
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Awesome!
I may have to see if my wife would like to add a pergola as well
I have looked at the free standing tracking PV arrays as well, but they just wouldn't work very well for us
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:09 PM   #44
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Here's the way to state the mileage of this car:

The Volt gets 5 miles/KWH for the first 40 miles and 50 Miles/gallon for any miles past 40.

Of course, Joe Sixpack isn't going to be able to understand that.
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:28 PM   #45
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Yep, conversion losses suck. A plug-in car seems more "efficient" (more MPG) on battery because vehicle manufacturers don't have to care how the electricity got to the plug.
I've seen many sources on this that do include the entire well-to-wheel chain. Here's one:

Electro Automotive: FAQ on Electric Car Efficiency & Pollution

Bottom line, after accounting for generation, distribution, charging and vehicle eff, the EV is about 2x as stingy with the original barrel of oil as is an ICE. Tesla has some similar numbers on their site.

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No car manufacturer wants to have to list how much atmospheric carbon was generated to produce the electricity that's at the plug.
Actually they do - because it is in their favor they trot out the numbers:

Tesla Motors - well-to-wheel
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Here‘s what we found: the Tesla Roadster offers double the efficiency of popular hybrid cars, while generating one-third of the carbon dioxide.
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Jackrabbit starts would be bad on plug-ins. The plug-in goal would be to never run the ICE because its fuel costs more than the battery's receptacle plug.
Just so people understand - the VOLT is not going to kick in the ICE during a jack-rabbit start. It kicks in the ICE when the battery hits a specific discharge level. Jack-rabbit starts probably are less efficient, even in an EV, so they will decrease how far you go before the ICE kicks in. So it might kick in after 38 miles of hard driving versus 40 miles of easy driving, or something like that.

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Old 08-12-2009, 12:50 PM   #46
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Here's the way to state the mileage of this car:

The Volt gets 5 miles/KWH for the first 40 miles and 50 Miles/gallon for any miles past 40.

Of course, Joe Sixpack isn't going to be able to understand that.
Looks good to me. Maybe Joe Sixpack won't get it, but it is as simple as you can get without assuming certain KWHr and $/G prices and miles between charges. Attempting to make it any simpler just adds to the confusion. But they could boil it down to "typical" driving patterns for reference/comparison.

But, couple that with typical prices, and it's not bad at all. Let's say $3/G and $0.10/KWHr, we can translate:

Assuming we start out fully charged -

The Volt gets 5 miles/KWH for the first 40 miles and 50 Miles/gallon for any miles past 40.

to

The Volt will use 80 cents of electricity to travel the first 40 miles and $2.40 of gasoline to travel the next 40 miles.


Additionally, it will continue using gasoline at that rate until it is charged again. That is 6 cents per mile on gasoline, versus 2 cents per mile on electricity, for the first 40 miles after charging. For comparison, a 25 mpg conventional car would cost 12 cents per mile.

Any dual fuel vehicle is going to be more complex to analyze than a single fuel vehicle. But I think the average Joe/Joan can "get it" with a little help. 230 mpg does not help.

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Old 08-12-2009, 04:37 PM   #47
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Samclem's comments on energy conversions takes me way back...

It was the mid-1970's, the auto industry was still reeling from the arab oil embargo. All over the country, intrepid individuals and many universities were creating experimental electric cars by gutting subcompacts, and installing DC motors, stuffing lead-acid batteries wherever they could, and wrestling with crude controllers (the microprocessor was in it's infancy, and power electronics as far as the high DC currents were concerned, meant big relays).

No power steering, no power brakes, no A/C, no heater, no computer-controlled automatic transmissions. The DC motor drove a manual transmission, the trans that came in the car originally.

But they worked, after a fashion, till the batteries discharged, which wasn't too far away!

But then there was the birth of the Series Hybrid, mainly in literature. Many claims made... engine running at a constant efficient speed, only when needed to charge the batteries, etc. The addition of an ICE as a genset added many complications, with the technology of the day. However, the number of energy conversions used when a Series Hybrid has exhausted it's battery charge are still with us today:

Chemical (gasoline) to Mechanical (output of ICE/input of generator) to Electrical (output of generator/input of motor) to Mechanical (output of motor to drive). The batteries tag on to the electrical level, when allowed.

The few experimental Series Hybrids that made it onto the road went reasonably well, till the battery charge dropped, and then the ICE, through all the conversion losses, was not able to power the car at roadworthy speeds. They reached an equilibrium speed - Where power generated by ICE/generator just matched the power required by the motor. Speed down a hill, creep up a hill. Required driver to pull off the road to let the ICE charge the battery more. The whole idea pretty much died there.
Few of these had regenerative braking then, but then regenerative braking doesn't add much charge cruising along a highway.

But now to the present, batteries are much better than lead-acid were, but expensive. Power electronics has come a long way, as has the whole microprocessor revolution. AC motors. Regenerative braking a proven reality. But cars are heavier, need/want power steering, brakes, ABS, A/C, heater, automatic transmissions, etc.

So now to the VOLT - I'll bet there is a fantastic amount of software to be written and experimented with for proper operation of this animal.
GM is putting in a large ICE (by historical standards) into this car. It would be interesting to know their approach for operation of the ICE and power distribution when it's running.
Probably many modes, the highest output would be battery discharged, high driver demand, where I would expect that the whole output of the ICE/gererator goes to series power the motor, and not charge the battery at that time. Then as driver demand slackens (hopefully!), crank back the ICE throttle opening to a more efficient level. And if that still meets driver demand, start sending a little bit of power towards the battery.

With a 100 HP ICE, I wonder what the VOLT's equilibrium speed will be?

If they can get 50 MPG on the EPA highway cycle test in a Series Hybrid, with the battery depleted, I will readily admit that is a real accomplishment.
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Old 08-12-2009, 05:31 PM   #48
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All of these posts are very interesting reading and I'm taken aback with all the "engineering" knowledge out there on this forum. One thing I keep reading is about a 100 HP ICE to recharge the battery pack on the Volt. I'm not sure that has been disclosed by GM. I would have thought it would have been a much smaller ICE as it won't be used at all to directly power the car, just to charge the battery pack. It could be a small as a lawn mower engine. I don't know how much power it would take to recharge the pack. Is it 100 HP for sure or are those just WAG's?

Nords, I think you had the longest post on the subject of the Toyota Prius. Being a GM retiree, I am torn between getting a Pruis or waiting for the Volt. What I really want is a Cadillac CTS. As gas mileage doesn't mean a lot to me (not many miles driven in a year) why should I even consider a Prius or a Volt? Give me your honest opinion. If money is not the object, initial cost or mileage be damned, would you buy another Prius?
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:47 PM   #49
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One thing I keep reading is about a 100 HP ICE to recharge the battery pack on the Volt. I'm not sure that has been disclosed by GM. I would have thought it would have been a much smaller ICE as it won't be used at all to directly power the car, just to charge the battery pack. It could be a small as a lawn mower engine. I don't know how much power it would take to recharge the pack. Is it 100 HP for sure or are those just WAG's?
Chevrolet Volt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Quote:
Engine(s) 111 kW (150 hp) electric motor[2]
1.4 L 4-cylinder for powering 53 kW generator[3]

Theoretically, a much smaller engine could be used, but I don't think that would maximize the amount of electricity versus gasoline you consumed.

IIRC, a car only needs about 10~20 hp on average. Let's see, Tesla has a 55KWhr pack, goes ~ 200 miles. At 50mph that would be 4 hours, so 55/4 ~ 14KWatts average draw. 14Kw/746 ~ 18 HP (with 600 HP bursts for fun). Did I get that right?

So theoretically, an 18 HP (plus some for losses) would do it - but it would run ALL the time, as soon as you start it. That would result in an always charged battery, no need/advantage to plug it in. You would basically be using the battery like a big flywheel to provide burst versus average power. No 40 miles on electric only. For the VOLT, once you deplete the battery after 40 miles, now the engine needs to recharge some and simultaneously power the car so that a period of peak driving doesn't keep depleting the battery.

Like samclem said, you want it to perform the same in all cases, so they need to build in a fair amount of overkill in the engine. Like climb a hill right when the battery hits the low trigger. 150 HP does seem like a lot though, considering the torque curve of motors (really don't need the same HP as an ICE).

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Old 08-12-2009, 06:59 PM   #50
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ERD50, I stand corrected on the stated HP for the ICE. Your points are well put. For sure, GM couldn't put something on the road that would be underpowered in any way. That would certainly kill the concept of the Volt. That's all you would need is for a lawsuit because someone got killed due to no power when you needed it. Has to perform the same all the time under charge. No way could it work like a golf cart.

Speaking of the Tesla, isn't it supposed to market in the $125k range?
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Old 08-12-2009, 07:42 PM   #51
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All of these posts are very interesting reading and I'm taken aback with all the "engineering" knowledge out there on this forum. One thing I keep reading is about a 100 HP ICE to recharge the battery pack on the Volt. I'm not sure that has been disclosed by GM. I would have thought it would have been a much smaller ICE as it won't be used at all to directly power the car, just to charge the battery pack. It could be a small as a lawn mower engine. I don't know how much power it would take to recharge the pack. Is it 100 HP for sure or are those just WAG's?
I don't know about the actual engineering knowledge, but we have no shortage of opinions.

My impression of the car-design process is that the engineers conduct an exhaustive study of the vehicle's proposed parameters, its operating needs, and highway design & driver habits. Next they spend months building prototypes for extensive testing and keep on iterating until they arrive at the optimal combination of performance and price.

Then the marketing department says "I don't care, it needs to be bigger than Toyota's."

Toyota Prius - 2010 Performance & Specifications

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Nords, I think you had the longest post on the subject of the Toyota Prius. Being a GM retiree, I am torn between getting a Pruis or waiting for the Volt. What I really want is a Cadillac CTS. As gas mileage doesn't mean a lot to me (not many miles driven in a year) why should I even consider a Prius or a Volt? Give me your honest opinion. If money is not the object, initial cost or mileage be damned, would you buy another Prius?
I'm a bit confused by the criteria here. If you want a Cadillac then I'm not sure how a Prius or a Volt would make you happy. And would you rather have my dishonest opinion? How would you tell the difference?

"But seriously, folks!": Money no object? I'd buy another Prius in a heartbeat. It's a wonderful car for a new driver, both for its simple dashboard design & safety features as well as its ability to endure negligent ignorance & abuse. (Regenerative braking systems should be mandatory for all teen drivers.) It's led to many enjoyable conversations with a next-generation budding engineer. I love the technology, especially the microprocessor drive-by-wire and the transmission. As a submariner I was all about driving without brakes while optimizing fuel efficiency, so this car is an engineering geek's dream. The electronics systems lend themselves to extensive hacking, admittedly not for the faint of heart, and the various displays provide endless hours of driving entertainment. I love pulling away from a stop and accelerating to highway speeds, feeling the MG & ICE shift among all their operating modes at exactly the speeds that they're supposed to. I love hearing the braking system make the appropriate noises when I put my foot on the brake pedal, even though there aren't any actual brake shoes involved until the car is nearly stopped. I love being able to set the cruise control at exactly 49 MPH as I go north over Kam Hwy's Roosevelt Bridge, watching the electronics maintain it precisely at that speed up the various hill slopes while slightly altering engine RPM and battery charge/discharge rates as the torque demand changes. I love turning off the CC at the guardrail just before the right turn onto Lanikuhana, coasting uphill on the car's slight regenerative braking as I get into the offramp and go around the right-turn corner at exactly 23 MPH without having to touch the brakes. A slight touch of the accelerator keeps the car at that speed on battery as I make my way to the next turn home. I know that I can drive the subsequent 1.1 miles downhill to the driveway completely on gravity & battery, ending up with just as much charge at the driveway as I started with at the top. When I get to our street, I love being able to chat with the neighbors out the window without the engine running in the background of our conversation or wasting gas. When I shut down the car, I love hearing all the noises & watching the processes it goes through. It's all the fun of operating an engineering plant & propulsion system without midwatches, logs, or drills.

Toyota had me from my first oil change. When you crawl under the car, the oil filter is right there in front of your eyeballs. It's even oriented upright instead of at some maximum-oil-spill angle. Ironically it's so much fun to change the oil that my daughter won't "let" me do it. But all Toyotas may be built like that.

The Prius holds at least 80% of our 1994 Ford Taurus Wagon yet has triple the gas mileage. The fact that it holds a 10'0" longboard and will still shut the hatchback: unexpected bonus.

A hybrid doesn't save us very much money-- today. Our teen is very fuel-inefficient, but not counting her driving we retiree parents only spend about $1000-$1400/year on gas. Most of our driving is under 50 miles per day. But if Oahu gas goes to $6-$10/gallon then we're going to save a lot more.

There are a number of hackers' rudimentary (or very expensive) plug-in modifications. The mods aren't quite there yet (let alone the issue of being able to take the car offline for a couple weeks) but Toyota is working on a production plug-in. When either one happens, an affordable mod or a factory plug-in, then I'll be able to recharge its batteries from our photovoltaic panels which have already nearly paid for themselves. It's the equivalent of free gas. That's when the real savings will kick in. At today's gas prices it'd be a 15-20 year payback, but I suspect gasoline will inflate at 3-5% annually and put the payback down around 10-12 years. That's about how long we usually keep our cars anyway.

We'll probably buy a second Prius 2-3 years after the plug-ins come out.

But like I said, renting one for a few days is worth all my words...
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:05 PM   #52
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Speaking of the Tesla, isn't it supposed to market in the $125k range?
Yep, I just read they are playing with the price/options etc, but somewhere in that neighberhood.

I think the Tesla is a fascinating study of some very clever people taking a liability (expensive batteries) and turning it into a feature that people will pay big bux for. It goes something like this:

1) If people want an EV to go 200 miles - that takes a LOT of expensive batteries.

2) Once you have enough batteries to take you 200 miles, you also have a LOT of burst power available.

3) Electric motors have a LOT of low-end torque, they can accelerate a car like a bat out of hell if you give 'em a big burst of juice.

4) Hmmm, on paper, a car with those batteries could accelerate in a class with the hottest sports cars that sell for well over $100,000.

5) It doesn't make economic sense to put a ~$15,000 battery pack in a $25,000 "everyman" vehicle, but with that kind of performance, we could make a $125,000 vehicle. You can make a case for a $15K battery in a $125K car with a limited market.

So they designed the Tesla on a Lotus Elise chassis. I'm really curious to see if they can pull of ACT II - a BMW style luxury car for $65K or whatever their target was.

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Old 08-13-2009, 09:31 AM   #53
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Speaking of the Tesla, isn't it supposed to market in the $125k range?
Something like that -- into six figures for sure. The difference is that the Tesla's target market is not terribly price-sensitive, whereas the Volt's target market undoubtedly will be. Thus the six-figure price tag of the Tesla may not be its undoing, but a $40,000 price tag on the Volt could be.
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Old 08-13-2009, 12:29 PM   #54
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I'd like to drive a hybrid to do what Nords does, try to maximize MPG. Sort of game the system, see how much performance I could eek out of the system. I would probably get bored of that eventually tho.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid looks nice, but expensive. I should go test drive a new Prius. But my current car gets 30mpg and I commute 70 miles a day, so expenses are not that high. 225HP, loaded, safe, and fun to drive.
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:35 PM   #55
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Toyota had me from my first oil change. When you crawl under the car, the oil filter is right there in front of your eyeballs. It's even oriented upright instead of at some maximum-oil-spill angle. Ironically it's so much fun to change the oil that my daughter won't "let" me do it. But all Toyotas may be built like that.
Not. It's as if the design is some twisted joke. It took me 20 minutes to find the filter on the Tacoma.
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Old 08-13-2009, 03:01 PM   #56
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I'd like to drive a hybrid to do what Nords does, try to maximize MPG. Sort of game the system, see how much performance I could eek out of the system. I would probably get bored of that eventually tho.
Search for "ScanGauge" on PriusChat.com's forum. It's a whole new level of geekdom.
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Old 08-13-2009, 03:15 PM   #57
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Nords, another great post on the Prius. Did you ever think about going into car sales? One last question. Well, maybe not the last, but anyway, give me your take on what happens after the warranty and what is the warranty ? I generally don't keep a car out of warranty, but a lot of people on the site do according to the posts. For those that keep a car for 6 to 7 years what's your feeling about cost to repair, replace batteries, etc. Surely you considered this and have some estimates from the dealer, or websites. There isn't a lot of history out there but you must have some numbers running around in your head. Your thoughts, please.
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Old 08-13-2009, 03:44 PM   #58
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The Tesla S is selling for $49,900. It's pretty fast and slick looking as well.

It'll still be a non-starter for those looking for a pay-back v. a gas car but, then, a lot of cars are chosen for reasons other than cost.
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:54 PM   #59
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Tesla Model S



2011 Chevy Volt


Est. price Tesla $48,000 Volt $40,000. Different markets, for sure, but it it is IMO going to be a long road for GM.
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:09 PM   #60
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Nords, another great post on the Prius.
Thanks!
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Did you ever think about going into car sales?
Eeeewwww. Um, no thanks!

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... give me your take on what happens after the warranty and what is the warranty? I generally don't keep a car out of warranty, but a lot of people on the site do according to the posts. For those that keep a car for 6 to 7 years what's your feeling about cost to repair, replace batteries, etc. Surely you considered this and have some estimates from the dealer, or websites. There isn't a lot of history out there but you must have some numbers running around in your head. Your thoughts, please.
We bought a 2006 in 2008 for a whole year of its bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage, something we haven't enjoyed since buying a new car in 1981. Nothing happened, so we didn't need any warranty coverage.

The car has now hit 35K in 36 months, and as far as I can tell it's doing fine. It drives smoothly, it makes all the good noises when it's supposed to, and it doesn't make any bad noises.

Here's a summary of our warranty manual: The "hybrid system" (battery & inverter) is warranted for 8 years/100K. The power train (MGs/ICE/transaxle/front-wheel drive), restraint systems, and corrosion protection are for 5 years/60K. The emissions system seems to be warranted for 8 years/80K. California warrants the battery for 10 years/150K.

The reality is that not much breaks. Brake shoes are expected to last 100K because most of the braking is done by the motor generator. Coolant lasts 100K. The batteries exceed their warranty by a long shot. Although the 1st & 2nd generation Priuses had rare battery problems (about as rare as blowing the engine on a GM car) I haven't heard of any battery problems with the 2004 & later models. Battery concerns are overhyped.

Don't have to worry about a starter motor or an alternator. Radiator coolant is tricky because the system has a lot of piping legs & voids to vent, so I'm going to let the pros do that job at 100K. The 12v battery lasts 4-5 years and can be expensive ($150) but that info is all over PriusChat.com and the job can be handled by anyone who's replaced a conventional car's battery. The car's weak points may be shocks/struts (especially with our pothole-oblivious teen driver) and air conditioning-- but not so far. We had the tires rotated & balanced last month (1st time in at least 11 months) but can't tell any difference. The odometer snivels about an oil change at 5000 miles with a red "Maintenance required" light. We change the oil at 3000 miles or six months, and it's usually six months. Some owners complain about excessive tire wear, but we don't drive enough to know.

People get into trouble when jump-starting the 12v battery. Toyota doesn't make it idiot-proof, and reversing the jumper cables will fry the $5000 inverter. Plenty of warnings on the Prius enthusiast websites. People also get into trouble if the car is towed on its front wheels, but tow-truck drivers are now well aware of that issue.

Biggest problem is smart key fobs. People turn the car over to another driver (like a valet or a spouse) and absent-mindedly walk away with the smart-key fob in their pockets. A few minutes/miles later the car gets very upset and, in a more-or-less safe manner, stops running. We have a baseline Prius model without the smart key, so we have to put our fob in the dashboard.

2nd-biggest problem is filling the gas tank. It's a rubber bladder that, if the owner isn't paying attention, can be overfilled like blowing up a balloon. When the gas pump's nozzle is pulled out of the tank the rubber bladder contracts and pukes a gallon of gas. But owners know to stop filling when the pump shuts off and not to try to cram in another gallon or two. No need to be greedy at 50-60 MPG.

3rd-biggest problem is the temptation to watch the dashboard LCD monitor screen instead of the road. Rumor is that it accepts a TV signal or a laptop feed, although extensive hacking is required.

4th-biggest problem is backing out of parking spaces with people in the cars next to me. I have to roll down the windows, make eye contact, and tell them I'm backing out. They still don't pay attention because they're expecting to hear an engine running. Then I tell them that the car's on battery and won't make any noise, so please watch out and be careful. They still forget and walk behind the bumper as I'm backing.

The few who still don't pay attention? I just run them over. I blast the horn, which in Hawaii is considered the pinnacle of rudeness. That gets their attention. It gets the attention of the entire parking lot, too.

For some reason, opening the car's door when it's in motion really freaks out the dashboard display. It lights up with all sorts of nonsense warnings & alarms until you slam the door shut. It's scary enough that you never do it again. I don't know why Toyota did this.

We'll probably keep this car for at least 10 years. Any conversion to a plug-in would void Toyota's warranty, but I doubt we need their warranty. Instead of taking the car to the dealer for servicing I'll use an independent Toyota-certified Prius mechanic. Of course he's much more of an electronics tech than a wrench-turning grease monkey. My biggest concern is that he'll retire in the next five years before I need his services, and I'll have to find another mechanic...
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