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DEFEND YOUR RIDE: Bill In West Orange New Jersey

January 17, 2012 3:00 AM

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"You let the momentum and the inertia of the car do a lot of the work."

dyr new york DEFEND YOUR RIDE: Bill In West Orange New Jersey

“It requires a whole new attitude towards driving–something called stealth driving.”

The Ride
The Driver: Bill
Car in Question: 2007 Toyota Prius
Spotted at: West Orange, N.J. 07052
Odometer: 67,226

THE DEFENSE

Q: Welcome to Defend Your Ride New York. Can you tell me your name and tell me where we are today?

A: I’m Bill and we are here in West Orange, New Jersey. I’m here visiting my son and his family.

Q: Tell me about your ride.

A: This is a 2007 Toyota Prius. We got it at the beginning of that year. We’ve driven to the Grand Canyon from Washington, D.C. That was bout 6,000 miles and it did quite well.

Q: That’s amazing. Why did you choose a hybrid?

A: Because we live in Arlington, Virginia, we have great access to metro rail and we have a bike trail right outside our house, so we can get around pretty easily. We really don’t need a car. We chose it because we wanted it to symbolize a new way of looking at energy. While we will never get our money back totally, we feel like this car would at least set a larger trend to be more conservative with our fuels, and be more respectful of our environment, and the limited resources we have.

Q: How does it actually work?

A: This is a true hybrid in the sense that the computer itself determines when it uses the electric and when it uses the gasoline engine. It decides which is most efficient, and when the battery needs charging. It makes that decision. It requires a whole new attitude towards driving–something called stealth driving. You let the momentum and the inertia of the car do a lot of the work. You utilize hills for speed with the accelerator off and you anticipate hills to get the momentum. You make better use of the engine as well as the landscape.

Q: So you actually have to learn to drive more efficiently?

A: It’s totally a switch in attitude and technique. You have to anticipate where you’re going, and when you can coast and save more energy. It becomes a challenge to do it effectively. You’ve got a little gauge that gives you feedback, so you know how you’re doing almost any moment you’re driving.

Q: Is there training to teach you how to drive like this?

A: They have a separate manual that you can get online that gives you some clues and cues about how to be more efficient. They say you need to practice stealth driving, so you can be more wise in the fuel consumption.

Q: Do you use it mainly for business or pleasure?

A: We use it sparingly, and when we do, it’s usually for medium trips. We have taken some long trips to Nova Scotia–3,800 miles in September. We also took our bike along, so we did 100 miles of that by bike and didn’t need the car. It got an average of 50.2 miles per gallon for that entire trip.

Q: If your car had a human emotion, what would it be?

A: It would be laughing at those great big gas-guzzling machines that are going by and say,”You know, I can get there just as fast as you do, and I can do it a little bit more efficiently.”

Q: Did you buy the car new?

A: We bought this brand new. At the time there was a federal return on purchase of around $1,500 . Then the county of Arlington also gives a discount on taxes. We pay actually no taxes on this car at least for the first five years.

Q: Anything else you would like to say about your car?

A: I’m glad that we bought it. I have no regrets. Very little maintenance over these five years. I haven’t put any money into it. I think we all need to think in alternative ways. This is only one way to do that.

Photos and interview by Jai Mitchell

Are you ready to Defend Your Ride? If so, email localautos@cbs.com with “Defend Your Ride N.Y.” in the subject line for submission details.

View previous Defend Your Ride features as well as other great stories for people who love cars at CBSNewYork.com/Autos

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