So now I am finally able to tell you about what it was like to compete in the Toyota MPG Challenge. When I was chosen to participate I was really excited about the opportunity to share with everyone my experience and disspell the common misconceptions about electric vehicles (EV’s).
I wanted to be competitive but I wanted to be real as well so I decided that no matter what I would drive the car everywhere I would have driven my car. Part of the rules of the competition was we had to drive a minimum 75 miles per week. Honestly, I had never kept track of how many miles I drove but I was pretty sure it was not 75 miles a week. The average charge is about 11-12 miles but you can have more depending on conditions (one reader posted on my FB wall about a 22 mile drive on one charge all EV, downhills and regenerative braking adds power back). The most common concern from people who want an EV but are afraid is “range anxiety” what if I run out of a charge? With a plug-in hybrid you do not really have to worry it just goes into hybrid mode but for the challenge it might as well as just shut off. From week one I started to be so much more aware of how far away my common trips were. For example, I could take my kids to school, get to the train, pick them up from school, go to my chiropractor, and get home in ONE charge (but just barely, there was almost NO charge left).
After realizing my normal green lifestyle had cut down my typical driving miles I started to think about all the things I would want to do if I did not have to worry about emissions. One of the things I did a lot of with this car is take my son out for ride to take a nap. I do that more than I want to admit with my regular car but the EV range was perfect for a nap. He was teething a little during the challenge so it really worked out well.
One of the other things I did was take the kids to parks that we could not walk to. We had picnic dates with our friends and my daughter even learned to swing on a big girl swing at one of the parks. It was a great excuse to explore more things. I even took the kids for a drive to see my childhood home which is only a few miles away but it was a good reason to go for an emission free ride.
Week 1: 121 miles and 143 MPG
Week 2: 204 total miles and 168 MPG
Week 3: 286 total miles and 214 MPG
Week 4: 375.8 miles and 251 MPG
Week one was the only week I really even drove out of range. I drove to my in-laws house that is 26 miles away each way on the highway. I charged up completely while I was there but we also went out for ice cream so that took some of the charge. It was devastating to watch that MPG number to spiral down from 999 to 105!!! The remainder of the challenge I drove in EV mode and slowly moved those numbers up.
I hunted for EV charging stations but I really did not need to. My trips are short and frequent so I was able to come home and recharge. Some times I would recharge three times in one day but it worked for me. I never waited for the charge if I wanted to go somewhere I unplugged the car and went, it always was in range.
Some hair-raising moments
I love my husband but he was not always the best help in winning the challenge. At the end of week 3 I was short a few miles so he went and took the car out for a ride on Thursday night to play his geocaching game. When he came home I begged him to update me on the stats immediately. He said that he drove 4 blocks in hybrid mode and the MPG’s were unchanged. I was baffled, I had learned enough at this point to know that even a mile or two in hybrid would not have undone 11 miles of EV driving. After I asked if the AC was on and it was not I figured it out… he had his phone plugged in!! (ugh! hands on head)
I cannot think of one trip I went on to grocery store or any other store when someone did not talk to me about the car. They asked so many questions about its cargo space, room for the kids, and distance on a charge. Everytime I took my kids out of the car you would think there was smoke and I had a magic wand a small crowd would form and people would be amazed. Comments like “two kids in car seats can actually fit in there” and “they must be squished in there.” To be honest in my car there is only room for 4 people and in the Prius I could fit 5 and no one would say my normal car is smaller than a Prius because it is not. People would slow down and watch me load my groceries in the car.
One time I did the thing they warned me about when they gave me the keys to the car… I left it on! It makes no noise so you do not know from the normal cues that the car is on. The kids were fussing about something and I did not realize I did not press the button to shut it off. I was so distracted I forgot to plug it in so when I got inside the house I asked my husband to go plug the car in. He came back in and told me it would not charge because I left the car on! Thank goodness I realized it immediately because I would have lost the challenge right then and there.
So what was the final gas bill $10.00 even for 2.825 gallons of gas!
My next car will surely be an EV, my lifestyle is perfect for any kind of EV. If you are thinking about purchasing one Jen from Jen and Joey Go Green just purchased a Nissan Leaf and she talked about her process of deciding what EV was right for her in this post.
Do you think you will purchase an EV for your next car? If you have any questions feel free to post it here.