Any DopersDrive Electric Cars? Wghat's Your Experience?

I am asking because I just saw a new Honda hybrid electric/gas CIVIC. Seems like a nice car…I’m wondering what people’s experiences with electric cars have been. I’dlike to know:
-what sort of problems have you had
-are the cars difficult to maintain?
-areyou comfortable taking your car on a long trip?
-do you ever wish you had a regular gas car?
-AND, are you actually saving any money?
I’d like to hear from people who have HYBRID cars (like Toyota PRIUS, HINDA Insight); and also from people who have all-electric cars like the SOLECTRIA or even home-built jobs (I recall MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED had plans for quite a few electric cars.

I think obfusciatrist has a Prius.

We’re seriously thinking about it. If you don’t mind some info secondhand, my girlfriend just bought a Honda Civic hybrid and loves it. She has a manual, but the automatic transmission in this car apparently has a continual gear-ratio system, instead of set “gears.” Sorry for my lousy explanation; I don’t know the terminology.

Her only complaint about the car is that there isn’t a pass-through between the trunk and back seat (the feature is in Honda’s regular cars, and is great for transporting loooooong things like skis or what have you). The battery is behind the rear seats.

She took the car on a road trip recently; that was fine.

As part of a paper I was putting together for the new Mayor, I interviewed a woman with a Prius. She loved the thing. Said that it has plenty of power and lots of room. And of course the 50mpg in the city is a huge sell point. I think it’s too soon for stats on maintenance/repair frequency.

I have riden in a 2002 Prius and driven a 2003 Prius. And I hope to purchase a 2004 Prius when they come out this Fall. The 2004 is reported to have more power and is a hatchback design as opposed to the eariler models which are “trunk” models.

I was impressed with the power of both. Two big men on board and to “normal sized” women, and no problems with hills. The 2002 model had about 20K on it and he reported no problems. Toyota offes a 100K warrenty on the batteries and associated systems.

I sat in the Honda and just felt cramped. It was a two door and I didn’t care for it. I don’t think they make a four door (yet?).

I used to have a Honda Civic, and I Valet-ed the Hybridized Civic.

I could feel the difference in power when the electric motor kicked in (only about 15 hp, but its noticeable).

Also, when decelerate the electric motor acts like a brake, recapturing otherwise lost kinetic energy and returning it to the batteries.

Coasting to a stop, the gas motor shuts down altogether!

The owner gets 50+ mpg.

I can imagine how to build the ultimate economy car:

Three cylinder diesel with desmodromic valvetrain…or better yet, valves actuated by computer controled solenoids, and a turbo-alternator. Mate this to a CVT, and add the hybrid electric system, and you wil have a 100 mpg car.

I, too, have taken a trip in a 2002 Prius, and found the back seat quite comfortable on the ride from eastern WV to central PA. And the nav system is cooool…

Honda now has 2 hybrid cars: the CRX-looking Insight (2 door/2 seats) and the Civic Hybrid (4-door), which is mostly just like other Civics, but with the oooh-aaah fancy engine and such.

Also, Ford is coming out next year with a hybrid Escape SUV, which would solve the room problems.

Have you considered buying a diesel car (VW makes em) and running it on biodiesel? Biodiesel is totaly sweet: renewable (made from soybeans or used vegetable oil), low emissions (no sulphur, reduced CO & particulates), higher mpg – and it can be used in any diesel engine. I know some places around here that have started to carry 2-20% biodiesel at the pump.

Better buy them quick. The tax break on the hybrids runs out this year.

Since this is a sort of survey, I’ll move this thread to IMHO.

moderator GQ

As for any high performance car, you have to pay a lot of money for it.

High performance doesn’t mean high acceleration or top speed here, it means 50% more gas mileage. I’d rather have a fast car. :slight_smile:

I also heard somewhere that hybrids and other LEVs can go in the carpool lane with only one person inside. Is that true?


The 2004 Prius has rear seats that fold down, which the 2003 Prius and the Hybrid Civic do not have. This is almost a dealbeaker for me. (Even the fron seats fold flat!)

I don’t like the cebntarl display, I want an analog speedometer right in front of me. (I’d accept a HUD)

I’m in a no-rush look for a new car, I am seriously considering the 2004 Prius.


Own a 2002 Prius (pronounced Pre-us)

Never had any trouble at all. Average about 45 miles/gal That will give you about 450 miles/per tank. You can get 507 miles per tank, but you end up walking the last mile to the gas station. Trust me, I know, I did it last Sunday.

The car’s CVT is incredible. It jumps off from a start without a hitch.

It turns on a dime. I really mean this. When having this car for the first week, I kept wanting to drive over curbs.

Stops on a dime too. The electric motor and brake combo can put you through a window if you are not used to it.

Plus, you can get over 30 minutes of driving without using gas on the way back to Sacramento from Tahoe.

You get a 2000 fed tax deduction the year you buy one, and depending on where you live, you can get other bonuses like toll free driving, and tax right offs on gas.

If you are in the market, wait for the ’04 models. The look different, but as increased performance, you can’t beat them.

Now for the reality. If you think you will be saving money by getting one, don’t bother. The cost of the car offsets any money you save on gas. I think someone figured out that on one of the Prius boards, that to start saving money on less gas consumption, you would have to drive the car something like 280,000 miles. You buy it for the tech and the clean air, and the support for the tech, not to save money.

If money is what you want to save. Get an Echo. I hear they also get 45 miles per gallon and are a lot cheaper too boot. Smaller size though.

I rode in my brother’s Hybrid Civic once. Aside from the funky dashboard and the spooky dead silence at stop signs, I couldn’t tell it wasn’t a gas-powered automobile.

Doesn’t Toyota sell the hybrid minivan in the US? It’s been available in Japan for over a year. I’ve seen a few on the road.