Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Hybrid Rocket: hold on to your funky hats

Toyota Prius was THE car I wanted back in early 2001, when I was buying my first car in the US. It was so cool; and back in the day would have been practical enough as well. With at most 3 people at a time to move around, there's plenty of room, and cargo space was functional for food stuff. But most importantly I cared about environmental aspects back when it wasn't yet fashionable (... in the US, that is), and most people around seemed to want something idiotic like a tacky pickup truck or fugly SUV. Whatever.

Unfortunately, 3+ month waiting list for purchases made it hard to even find one instance to test drive, much less drive out of the lot. In fact, the only thing I achieved when trying to do that was to get 2 hour of high-pressure sales schpiel to get me to by a used Toyota Corolla. Nothing against that dependable vehicle, but that just didn't cut it (eventually I ended up buying a cute fiery red turbo beetle -- but that's a whole another story).

But maybe I should consider myself lucky: as detailed in The Flip Side of the Perfect Prius, Prius owners may be in for more "unexpected adventures" than they bargained for. Specifically, it seems prone to some kind of sudden acceleration syndrome (or, as embarrassing if somewhat less dangerous, "total lock-up" episodes). The case of "Prius in a creek" from Colorado looks particularly creepy. And while I could understand Toyota dealers' attitude for individual incidents ("you floored it instead of braking" / "just ran out of gas"), number of incidents, as well as type of people reporting problems suggests there is something more at work here.

That's very unfortunate, for something that in many ways is a harbinger for cleaner tomorrow. I hope the problem, whatever it is, gets resolved.

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