Last Chance To Talk Me Out Of It

February 2nd, 2010 by Potato

As I alluded to a few days ago, the accelerator pedal brou-ha-ha at Toyota may open the door for a good deal on a Prius (or, it may not, since it’s one of the few cars they can still sell). I’m going to email a few dealers for quotes tonight, so we’ll see what they say.

The Prius is a very strange and polarizing car: a lot of people have a very visceral and inexplicable dislike of the car. I’ve been surprised at the number of people who’ve said bad things about it at the merest mention that I may, at some point in the future, buy one. Pretty much all of them are myths (many of which have been debunked right here), or incomplete ideas about cost and payback (or apples-to-oranges comparisons). There are of course some valid criticisms, such as that the acceleration is not sports-car-like (it’s fast enough for a highway merge, which is all that matters to me), or that there are cheaper options if I’m focused purely on the financial aspect (I’m not — it’s one I talk about a lot, but the car has a lot of other merits). In particular, a used car would be cheaper (the hybrids keep their value too well, so it doesn’t make sense to me to get a used Prius). One of the best criticisms came from my friend Ryan who said “The thing about the Prius is this: it’s fuel efficient. It doesn’t use gas. And I make gas, so that’s bad.” [He’s a petrochemical engineer]

Nonetheless, people seem to want to criticize this car choice. I’ve made every attempt to look at it from all angles. I’ve updated my payback/savings spreadsheet with current gas prices and used a Matrix XR with automatic as my comparison car. You can download the 2010 version here if you like (or go to the Them’s Fighting Words post, which explains many of the factors that come into this kind of decision. Since gas prices have come down I’ve become more conservative with my gas price assumption, but even if gas prices stay at 95 cents/L for the next decade, the Prius will still save me several thousand dollars over a Matrix (even though the Prius is more than $5k more expensive up front!). That should handily pay for a battery replacement in the unlikely event one becomes necessary.

So we’ll see what the Toyota dealer says, but assuming they offer me a good deal, this may be your last chance to talk me out of it!

3 Responses to “Last Chance To Talk Me Out Of It”

  1. Michael James Says:

    Have you checked what the Lemon-Aid books have to say about the Prius? It’s crazy to buy any car (new or used) in Canada without taking a look. If you haven’t heard of these books, their web site will give you an idea:

    Every library I’ve checked has had them (but don’t allow you to take out this year’s edition).

  2. Potato Says:

    I did a year or two ago, but not for 2010. The author (Phil Edmonston) has a big anti-hybrid bias, so I didn’t see much value to the review. I also went looking through them (and another car review type book) to try to find an estimate for the resale value of my ’97 Accord.

    “We don’t recommend electric and gasoline engine hybrids because their fuel economy can be 40 percent worse than the automakers report, their long-term reliability is unknown, battery replacement cost is estimated to run as high as $8,000 (U.S.).”

    Hybrids are the future. Don’t bet on it; fuel economy is over-stated by half and they can fry you in an accident.

    Puh-lease. Every car can be 40% worse than the EPA test cycle reports — metropolitan stop and go commuting is not part of the test cycle. The battery replacement cost is known to be less than half his figure (if it happens at all), and while long-term reliability is unknown, it’s been good so far and is predicted (by Consumer Reports) to be good going into the future (fewer moving parts, less stress on the engine, etc). As to the outright fear-mongering of the last claim? It hasn’t happened yet, and with all the safety systems, I highly doubt it will ever happen in an accident. The only danger the high-voltage battery poses is to backyard tinkerers who aren’t careful.

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