Driving A Prius In The Wild West

My job in transportation options has taken me, in a new Prius, to the high desert town of Bend, Oregon (recently named by American Cowboy magazine in its Top Ten list of wild-west towns). The Prius, mud-splattered from the Santiam Pass, is now dusted with snow as well, so it reminds me of an Appaloosa pony.

Appaloosa mare running
photo by emokidsdontcryx3

Oh, don’t I wish. Horses are cool.

So my Prius (actually my employer’s, not mine) informs me it is getting 46 miles per gallon on this trip. Excellent mileage compared to SUV’s, and of course with every gallon of gas we burn creating 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, I’m saving a few hundred pounds of emissions over driving an average car. Also, this hybrid handles and performs beautifully, front-wheel drive and all. The Prius is so popular in our motor-pool that I couldn’t extend my use of it to a third day.

The downside of not just the Prius, other hybrids and actually all gas and energy conservation measures is that if we don’t stay conscious of the reality of peak oil, we can easily offset our conservation measures to some degree by then driving or consuming more carelessly. The irony of our nation’s overconsumption is that it does not make us happier. Juliet Schor, the Harvard economist, shows this clearly in her body of research.

Bearing that in mind, I am parking my Appaloosa-colored Prius this afternoon and taking a vanpool with about ten colleagues over to Redmond, saving a few hundred more pounds of emissions. Kind of like taking a stagecoach in the days of the old West. I wish.


5 Responses to “Driving A Prius In The Wild West”

  1. 1 Colleen April 23, 2008 at 7:25 am

    I agree. Just because one has the ability to drive doesn’t mean one SHOULD drive with abandon, even with a highly efficient car. That said, sometimes driving is what needs to happen in a given situation. I’m all about balance when it comes to driving and not driving … and our car gets 35 miles to the gallon. Even so, I’m working on driving less. One solution for us, given we enjoy “road trips” to the mountains or beaches with our four big dogs (can’t really take them all on trains or on buses, darn) is that our work-week lives are extremely un-focused on driving. We intentionally bought a house in a walk-able neighborhood where we are near almost everything we need (grocery and pet and drug stores are just blocks away, coffee and restaurants are within blocks, and even our doctors are just a few miles away!), we telecommute most days and I ride the bus and/or bike. I think our intentional work-life choices that de-emphasize driving help keep our drive-miles “in check,” when we choose to get in the car to go somewhere.

  2. 2 driving courses April 23, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Alison
    We’re looking at adding a Prius or two to our fleet of cars used for learner drivers; do you think a Prius is a suitable car to learn to drive in?
    And the Appaloosa in the photo looks so beautiful.

  3. 3 alison13 April 23, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Interesting question. I find the Prius’s starting system and gear-shift so different from ‘mainstream’ cars that I’d think a person shouldn’t learn to drive ONLY in a Prius. On the other hand, I think that hybrids are the only cars with a chance of evolving into the future. So logically, any new driver’s education should include learning to drive a Prius or other hybrid. The constant feedback-loop the driver sees on its dashboard, i.e. 46 miles per gallon, sets a good expectation of fuel efficiency in the new driver’s mind.
    Thanks for the question. I hope you add the Prius to your fleet.

  4. 4 driving courses April 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Hi Alison
    Thank you. The starting system is one of the differences to other cars that’s delaying the decision.
    We’re trying to balance the for and against argument:
    For – more people will drive hybrids so it’s better to get used to them.
    Against – a Prius would make learning to drive more complex than it is already.
    I think the next stage is to ask our students if they think it’s a good idea. With petrol costing almost $10 a gallon a Prius will make quite a difference to how much it costs people to learn to drive.
    We’ll keep you informed and thank you again for taking the time to answer.

  5. 5 alison13 April 28, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Hi again,
    My pleasure. I hadn’t realized you’re not in the U.S., but rather, in the U.K., it appears? The $10/gallon price for petrol or gas encourages careful consumption. Amazing how much people are complaining here in the U.S. about the price approaching $4/gallon. My post today (April 27-28) addresses how much people save by carpooling. https://alison97215.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/carpooling-is-cool/
    Besides the money, it saves emissions and builds friendships and community . . . . all a part of the Diamond-Cut Life.

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