Archives – June, 2009

The Best Prius

2010 Toyota Prius

The seemingly endless debate as to which Prius generation/package is the best resurrects as devout fans anxiously wait for their new and shiny 2010 models.

Upon the arrival of the base model Prius, celebrities and enthusiasts piled up on waiting lists, hoping that their new hybrid would arrive as soon as possible. The Toyota Prius flaunted a 48mpg record on city streets, and luxury add-ons such as leather trim seats, a navigation system, and Bluetooth access.

There was also a craze for the Prius Touring Edition, which features a sport suspension upgrade, 16” wheels, a larger spoiler, and HID headlights and fog lights. Sales for each model (as well as for their parts and accessories) continue to grow as more and more time elapses. Some green drivers prefer the base model, keeping things clean and simple, while some dare to drive green and sporty with the touring upgrade.

Now, however, Toyota brings yet another option to the table: the 2010 Toyota Prius, also known as the Third Generation Prius. Although the third generation looks extremely similar to the previous models, the internal changes are major. Boasting an improved 134 horsepower, 51mpg on city streets, a voice-activated navigation system, and a solar roof panel that powers interior fans, the 2010 model has hybrid enthusiasts aching with anxiousness. Searches for 2010 hybrid parts and accessories prove to be prominent during this stretch of time in the online market.
So, which of these models is best? While much debate on this matter continues to create disagreement among the Prius community, the base model proves to have had a lasting impact on green drivers. However, sales for the touring edition, as well as the 2010 model, are in a state of constant growth and demand amongst consumers.

Stay updated on the ever-changing popularity contest amongst the many faces of the Toyota Prius here, at our blog! And, to check out unique parts and accessories for your favorite of the models, click here to be brought to our site!

1 Comment June 30, 2009

Is there a GM-branded Prius in the Future?

Bloomberg reports that GM and Toyota may be talking about building a GM-brand car based on the Prius in a jointly owned plant in California that is currently producing the Pontiac Vibe.  GM has already announced it will stop building Vibes at the plant come August.  GM also announced it will divest itself of its share of the factory as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

Leave a Comment June 30, 2009

Toyota Prius installation of Curt rear hitch and rear bike rack.

Toyota Prius installation of rear hitch and rear bike rack.

Prius Receiver HitchHave you been thinking about getting a Toyota Prius but have wondered how will I be able to carry my bike around? There is an answer! Why not have the best of both worlds; great gas mileage and the ease of carrying two bikes around.

A rear hitch-mounted bike rack is one of the best option for Toyota Prius owners or shoppers looking into buying a Prius who are cyclists. Although the Toyota dealerships will install the trailer hitch it for you, installation is easy and something you can do on your own. You can install the hitch in about 30 minutes or less.

Things You Will Need That Are Necessary:

  • Trailer hitch Curt Model 11468
  • Socket wrench with a 14m and 17m socket
  • Hand socket wrench with a 10m socket
  • Flat head screw driver for releasing the plastic rivets holding the underbody fascia in place
  • Heavy scissors or tin snips to trim the plastic under-body fascia
  • Extra set of hands to help you lift the trailer hitch into place

Things That Are NOT Necessary But Helpful:

  • Mechanic’s Creeper
  • Drive-on Ramps

Step One

First, back the Toyota Prius on drive-on ramps if possible to make getting under the car easier (this step is not necessary for the install of the hitch). Then remove the two tow hooks under the rear of your Prius using a socket wrench, unbolt and remove the tow hooks from the under-body frame rails at the rear of the Prius on both the driver’s and passenger’s sides.

Step Two

Remove plastic under body fascia saving the plastic rivet hardware for the reinstall later.

Step Three

Lift the hitch into position under the Prius and secure with bolts and washers provided with the hitch. Tighten the bolts. This may require some help from someone. Holding the hitch in place and securing the bolts may be difficult to do alone but possible. A second set of hands is helpful for this step.

Step Four

Place the fascia up under the car so you can see where you will need to cut a slot in the facia so you can reinstall the fascia. Using heavy scissors or tin snips cut a slot in the fascia on the driver’s side. Extend the slot all the easy to the back edge of the facia and remove the small segment of fascia. Now the fascia will fit around the driver’s side of the newly installed hitch. There is no facia on the passenger side to worry about

Step Five

Reinstall the under body fascia with the existing hardware you set aside in Step 2. You are now ready to install your hitch-style bike rack.

Recommended Bike Rack

  • Hollywood Racks – Commuter – this is a cool rack and the one I recommend. The Commuter two bike hitch rack fits both 1 1/4″ and 2″ hitches. Soft rubber cradles helps protect bike’s finish, “no wobble” hitch pin prevents rack sway and integrated tie-down straps secure bikes to rack. Tilts for easy cargo access, and arms fold when not in use.
  • Thule 912 – Thule is a 2-Bike Hitch Rack that sets the new standard for performance and ease of use. Fitting perfectly on your Toyota Prius, it has a two bicycle carrying capacity, and provides you with the perfect combination of security and convenience.

Leave a Comment June 29, 2009

Articles – How Hybrid Cars Work

There are several advantages developed in hybrid cars in comparison to conventional gasoline vehicles. A hybrid car includes a small fuel-efficient gasoline engine combined with an electric motor that assists the engine when accelerating. While some of these gas engines are four-cylinders, they include new technologies that give it a boost.

hybrid-cars-economical

Some of the new gas engines found in hybrid cars have the power of a V6 engine. The engine can do any combination of the following: charge a battery, charge a capacitor, directly power the electric motor. The main improvement in fuel consumption over a conventional vehicle with the same performance is possible.

The number one reason why consumers will not purchase a hybrid car is the battery. Some consumers fear that in two years, or three years, the battery will need replacing. The cost of replacing a battery could be anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the type and model.

However, some of these reasons not to buy a green car are myths. For example, a typical hybrid car battery will usually last around 150,000 to 200,000 miles or more. This is far longer than the typical car battery that operates the accessories and lights on a conventional automobile. Most of the original 1997 and 2004 Toyota Prius vehicles are still using their original hybrid batteries.

Hybrid cars are not really a new technology. The first hybrid actually dates back a few centuries as people looked to steam as a way to power a vehicle. A hybrid is the combination of two or more power sources aimed at achieving a particular goal.

For example, a hybrid train is a rail vehicle that uses an on-board rechargeable energy storage system, placed between a diesel engine and the traction transmission system connected to the wheels. Mopeds are also a form of hybrid as power is delivered by an internal combustion engine and the rider as they peddle.

There are several factors that come into play when deciding between a hybrid car or a conventional vehicle,. It certainly does not make the decision any easier. However, if you want to save on gas and maintenance, the hybrid electric is the best alternative.

No one really knows for sure when gas prices will spike like they did unexpectedly in 2008. The sudden surge to a near $5 per gallon was totally unexpected. The top foreign countries that sell oil agree that the price is still very low.

When gas prices soared in 2008, OPEC claimed that the price of oil was still too low. They claimed that they were trying to do a correction, and if successful, the price per gallon would be around $8. Could you imagine paying $8 per gallon for gas?

A neighbor of mine recently purchased a hybrid car. He uses it for quick trips to buzz around town and has not purchased gas in over a month. He still has three-quarters of tank left.

You might picture his car as a small golf cart, but it isn’t. It’s actually a 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid car. It seats five passengers, has good acceleration, and the car uses its battery on most trips, since he travels at speeds under 40 mpg.

Leave a Comment June 29, 2009

college chapter of special group – diesel-driving 30-year-old

Meet a non-traditionalist … That’s an apt description of Daniel Girard. He’s a diesel-driving 30-year-old who is on track to graduate from Appalachian State University next summer with a degree named Appropriate Technology. He’s busy outside the classroom, too. Girard is founding president of the only college affiliate of the over 60 chapters of the Electric Auto Association. The nonprofit EAA has been advocating electric vehicles since 1967. Girard is joined at the chapter by about 10 other undergrads in the Technology program, all of them eager to find work – and play a role – in how technology is used in the future. “We don’t pay dues but becoming a part of EAA and gaining support from the chapter for the Triad gives us a way to involve ourselves in more “hands on” work and take on more do-it-yourself projects,” Girard said. His chapter’s non-profit status is also appealing to potential donors willing to support student efforts with financial contributions and by donating vehicles that can be converted to electric power. Girard is confident about the future. “Renewable energy is now a problem of finances, not technology and knowledge. Plenty of that is available already,” Girard said.

Leave a Comment June 26, 2009

nissan and tennessee

Tennessee gets ready … When Nissan rolls out an electric-powered five-passenger compact vehicle to the U.S. market a year from now, interested groups throughout the state of Tennessee plan to be ready. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working with Nissan, state government and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to establish electric car charging stations for the new plug-in from Nissan as well as from Chevrolet and other companies. In 2010, corporate and government fleets will be the first to take delivery of the lithium-ion battery powered Nissans. Sales to the public are planned starting in 2012. TVA officials expect smart grid technology to help avoid system overloads due to battery recharging. Vehicle plug-ins at night – when electric demand is at non-peak – may become a consumer favorite. But eventually, power companies may be faced with  extending more power lines along rural stretches of highway and opening recharging stations at grocery stores, malls, on downtown streets and in parking garages to handle day-time recharging. Billing consumers for recharging costs is another issue. According to Nissan, home car recharging will require 220 volts – the same as a typical air conditioner, hot tub or clothes dryer. Nissan is working on a quick-charge system capable of refueling a vehicle in less than 30 minutes.

1 Comment June 26, 2009

high voltage competition

electric race carHigh voltage competition — Helmet secured, Mike Willmon tightens his grip on the wheel and prepares for another run in Crazy Horse, his electric-powered ’78 Ford Pinto drag racer. His car can go from zero to 60 mph in 3 ½ seconds (360 volt pack; 1,500 amps, 400 hp to the wheels). Alaska resident Willmon is president of the National Electric Drag Racing Association. Of NEDRA’s 150 or so members, 75 percent are devoted drag racers like Willmon. NEDRA events are planned at established drag sites through the summer. Cars and cycles compete in 1/8- and ¼-mile events in categories based on available voltage. Last fall, Scotty Pollacheck aboard the 375-volt bike called the Killa-Cycle hit 174 mph in a quarter-mile run at a Colorado strip – considered the fastest any electric vehicle has covered the distance. The 175 mph barrier should fall this year. Willmon said electric racing is speed on the cheap: one run for a gas car can cost $20 in fuel. An electric car can get a day of racing – 10 runs in all — for $20 including costs of running a tow-along 16K recharging generator.

Leave a Comment June 19, 2009

Demand for New Prius Very High

The New York Times reports that the demand for the new Toyota Prius is leading to overtime in factories to try to meet the demand. Toyota had received advance orders of 80,000 cars and sold more than 110,000 in Japan in May.

The new Prius was released as an instant hit in Japan and is making its way to American showrooms now.  American dealers have waiting lists of eager customers, ready to buy.

Leave a Comment June 15, 2009

How green are trains and public transportation? It depends.

electric vehiclesMost of us assume that some things are givens when it comes to environment-friendly transportation choices. Among those assumptions: Taking the subway is better than driving an SUV, riding a train tops hopping on a plane, and a hybrid car is much preferred over a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle.

But that’s not always true.

Environmental engineers Mikhail Chester and Arpad Horvath of the University of California found that instead of taking a train into the city from suburbia, there are times when  “people would be better off traveling through town in a gas-guzzling, high emission SUV. Ouch!

But it gets even worse: Taking the commuter train across Boston results in higher greenhouse gas emissions than traveling the same distance in a jumbo jet, says New Scientist.

How could that possibly be?

Part of it comes down to how the power that fuels the transportation is generated. Boston’s electric commuter trains use electricity that comes mostly from burning fossil fuels.

“Including these additional sources of pollution more than doubles the greenhouse gas emissions of train travel. The emissions generated by car travel increase by nearly one third when manufacturing and infrastructure are taken into account. In comparison to cars on roads and trains on tracks, air travel requires little infrastructure. As a result, full life-cycle emissions are between 10 and 20 per cent higher than ‘tailpipe’ emissions.

Occupancy also matters when it comes to measuring greenness – almost-empty buses at off-peak hours were less efficient than even SUVs and pickup trucks.

This way of measuring the environmental impact of transportation should be taken into account when planning new  initiatives, say the researchers.

Of course, none of this is to deny the long list of benefits of buying a hybrid vehicle (or even taking the train or bus). But it does point out the complexity of many environmental issues.

1 Comment June 11, 2009

Bells and whistles be damned!

Bottom-line Bobs and Barbs The nearly 20,000 responses to the latest J.D. Power & Associates Web-based survey on newfangled car technologies and enhancements reinforces conventional wisdom about how some households react to a souring economy. Bells and whistles be damned!  The Power study reveals that average Bobs and Barbs think more about bottom-line costs than appealing new features.

hybrid-car-hyperFuel-saving hybrid electric technology ranked fifth among the 19 available features – earning “definitely interested” status from 15 percent  of respondents. But that 15 percent dropped to 4.2 percent when Power said the upgrade to hybrid technology would boost the price of a car by $5,000. For hybrid marketers, the challenge continues: to motivate consumers to look beyond the bottom line and consider more than price in their purchases.

Leave a Comment June 11, 2009

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