Hanshaw impressed with efficient car

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Thinking about how to improve your gas mileage and help the environment?

You might want to follow the lead of David Hanshaw, pastor of the Green Forest United Methodist Church, who chose a hybrid car over a gas-guzzling alternative.

Hanshaw says he gets great gas mileage and all the power he needs in his hybrid, a 2003 Toyota Prius that he purchased a year ago.

Hanshaw said his sister in California purchased a Prius and bragged about its performance and fuel efficiency.

"There, gas is higher and she has an hour commute in the morning. She said it was really good on gas," Hanshaw recalled. "A week later, I went to Landers in Fayetteville and bought the same car."

Hybrids, he explained, combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor to get significantly better gas mileage than a conventional gas engine.

Hybrids also produce less pollution per mile than conventional gasoline engines. The hybrid engine of the Prius produces 90 percent fewer harmful emissions than a comparable gasoline engine.

Hanshaw says he loves his Prius and has no regrets over the $20,000 or so purchase price.

"I fell in love with it the first time I drove it," he recalled. "It has all the power I need. When I was going over the Pig Trail and looked at my speedometer, I was surprised how fast I was going."

Besides the fuel efficiency, Hanshaw is impressed with some of the other features the hybrid offers, such as fast warm-ups on cold winter days, the user-friendly touch-screen computer monitoring system, and ample head-room for his six-foot frame.

"I could wear a 10-gallon hat and still fit in," he said. "It has lots of room. It can carry four adults comfortably."

On cold mornings, the engine and heater warm in 90 seconds, a plus, he said, because there is no idle time.

"You get in and go," he explained. "There is no warm-up time."

Hanshaw especially likes the touch-screen computer monitor located in the middle of the dash that indicates which motor is being used at the moment, plus the miles-per-gallon consumption rate.

The screen also allows him to manipulate the sound system, change channels, adjust the speakers, tweak the bass and treble and select the music of his choice with a simple touch of the finger.

The hybrid is definitely different from conventional cars, he admitted, but easy to understand and operate.

"They run you through the ropes when you buy one," he said.

The gear shift lever, located on the steering wheel, offers park, reverse, neutral, drive, and battery.

"The 'B' for battery gives you the option of putting extra torque on the fly wheel when going downhill or braking to give you more battery power," Hanshaw explained.

This is a battery system that never needs to be plugged in. Intelligent power electronics decide when to use the motor and engine and when to store electricity in advanced batteries for future use.

The electric motor is used primarily for low speed cruising or to provide extra power for acceleration or hill climbing.

"When climbing a hill, both engines kick in," Hanshaw said. "You can feel the power surge!"

When braking or coasting to a stop, the hybrid uses its electric motor as a generator to produce electricity, which is then stored in its battery pack.

Plus, when stopped at a traffic light, the vehicle automatically shuts itself off and re-starts as soon as the accelerator is touched.

Another feature of the Prius, he said, is the environmentally-friendly engine, which produces 90 percent fewer harmful emission than a comparable gasoline engine.

"No doubt, these cars are good for the environment," said Hanshaw.

While the Toyota Prius is touted to get upwards of 60 mpg, Hanshaw said his "overall" gas mileage is 41.

"The theory is, that you get better mileage in town than on the highway," he said. "But, we're not stop-and-go around here like the people in big cities."

According to Hanshaw, the 2004 Toyota Prius is even better than the one he purchased, with added interior space, more power and better mileage ---- estimated at 51/60 mph, depending on city or highway driving.

"This is third generation technology," Hanshaw said. "Toyota had the first mass-produced hybrid in the world."

With 14,000 miles on his Prius and zero problems, Hanshaw is pleased with his purchase.

"I highly recommend it," he said. "It's a wonderful, wonderful vehicle."

The Honda Insight is another fuel-efficient hybrid that has been gaining attention.

According to automakers, consumers who care about fuel economy will have a dozen new hybrid vehicles to chose from in the next few years, including full-size trucks, SUVs, vans and sedans.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: