Feedback from the Issue of Thursday, May 5, 2009

PRIUS PROBLEMS

Wanna reduce your footprint? Buy used: Look at me; I'm an attention whore! I wouldn't say all Prius owners are like this, but a few of those interviewed for the article seemed like this was truthfully the main reason they bought the vehicle.

Sure, they may go on about how it is good for the environment, or better for their pocketbook, but the truth is, it's just another status symbol. These people were led (by the media and pop culture, mainly) to purchase this vehicle, just like they were led to purchase Hummers: Not because they needed them but because they could feel as if they were better than others.

You want to really save the environment and lower your spending while reducing your carbon footprint? Buy used. Perform your own maintenance. Keep the tire pressure up, and be light on the gas pedal. Then, drive that thing until it won't run any longer, then put a rebuilt engine in it and drive it some more. I currently own a 1994 four-banger Ranger 2WD that has close to 190,000 miles on it and still runs great. I have no car payment.

Now, as far as the braking and acceleration issues being exhibited by the Prius, these problems are indeed scary. I suspect that when you press on the gas or brake pedal, there isn't an actual physical linkage between the pedal and the engine (or brakes), but rather the pressure instructs the onboard computer what to do.

Whatever the cause, Toyota needs to fix it. Until it is fixed, Prius drivers are risking their lives and the lives of others just to be able to say, "Look at me!"
Andrew L. Ayers, Glendale

Prius is no more than a status symbol: Just as I thought, Priuses are no more than status symbols. They aren't even doing what they are billed to do — reduce the owner's carbon footprint — so the only reason to buy them is to look good to one's peers. Pathetic.
Jamie Dunbar, Tempe

"Prions" hate to appear foolish: I guess I was shocked, but not surprised, after reading your well-written article. Shocked that Toyota was grossly mishandling this potential PR fiasco. But not surprised that these hybrid cars have technical difficulties.

Car companies love high-margin vehicles. Greenies with extra money get to make an environmental statement by paying a premium for their wheels. No wonder "Prions" send hate mail to critics; it must be quite irritating to pay extra for status and look foolish. That's what happens when a transportation appliance gets turned into a political statement.

As for minimizing environmental impact, if your lifestyle can stand it, buy a new internal-combustion-engine subcompact that gets 35 to 45 miles per gallon and drive it for 250,000 miles or 20 years.

Regarding the Prius' troubles, the first law of technology is: Never buy anything with a low serial number. The second law of technology: Must be bad software.
Tim Lank, Phoenix

New spin on an urban legend?: The recent article on supposed problems with the Toyota Prius brought back memories of claims of sudden acceleration in passenger cars years ago, which I thought had been pretty well debunked. And lest you think I am one of those Prius zealots, I drive an Acura, have owned only one Toyota in my life (a truck), and do not intend to buy a Prius.

I am a person with a technical background who has helped design many complex systems (mainly for aircraft) and who dislikes sensationalism.

For a Prius (or any car) to continue accelerating when the brake pedal is pressed to the floor means the Prius would not only have to accelerate suddenly with no one pressing the gas pedal but the brakes (a completely different system in the car) would have to fail simultaneously.

In the article, it appeared that the writer was trying offer this possibility because the car design is so "complex." In reality, a Prius is less complex; there may be more software than in a standard car, but there are far fewer moving parts and less reliance on mechanical information (like vacuum and pressure) for making control decisions.

All one needs to do is to Google "pedal error" to read numerous accounts of sudden acceleration. Who wants to admit that they jammed their foot on the gas pedal when they meant to hit the brakes and, so, they drove their car through their garage wall into their own living room? I suspect that much like the claims years ago, the supposed problems of Prius' sudden acceleration will boil down to one simple thing: operator error.
Wayne Turner, Phoenix

Damn hyper-milers: It's fucking hyper-milers who drive me nuts. Talk about scary — they will actually turn their cars off to coast to a stop and not use gas. They lose braking and steering functionality.

I'm all for cutting down on smog. I'd even consider a hybrid if my commute was in town (these things aren't substantially better on the freeway), but I'm not going to turn into a prick who endangers everyone on the road.
Mike Wells, via the Internet

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1 comments
Frank George
Frank George

Where do you put stuff in such a dinky car like a prius. I have a family,my children are 5 and 3 years old. There doesn`t seem to be sufficient space for a family let alone cushion space in case of an accident. Something bigger then a prius hits that little time bomb and your gone. I see no protection in that symbol stsus at all.

 
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