Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things I Don't Have

In my last post, I wrote about a few of my favorite things I have. I've been admiring a few other things on the road too. These are just a few of them.

Honda Insight - These little two seat hybrids are no longer made by Honda but get over 60 mpg without even hypermiling. It is still the best fuel economy hybrid made to date and resale value of these is very high. There aren't very many on the roads but they're very well made. Those batteries that people insisted would need to be replaced at like $7000 a pop after 100,000 miles have proven to go much further than that without failure. Toyota's hybrid batteries have also far outlasted the critics.

Smart Smartfourtwo - These little two passenger cars are fun to drive. If you ever find yourself near the Lindon/Orem Mercedes Benz dealer, I recommend swinging by and test driving one. They look tiny on the outside but are so roomy inside it is amazing. The "automanualmatic" transmission (automated clutchless manual transmission) is quirky and takes some getting used to but you can drive it as either a manual (with no clutch) or an automatic. And the price is competitive with other new economy cars.

Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris Liftback - Both of these cars are the "new" Geo Metros and Ford Aspires on the roads today. Great fuel economy at low prices. The Yaris is very cute but the Fit's five door setup is more practical than the Yaris's three door. I'd be happy with either.

Zero Motorcycles, Zero X - An all electric dirtbike with equivelent power of 250 cc combustion engined motorcycles but with less weight. It gets 60 miles to the charge, can be outfitted with proper lights to be street legal and better performance than gas dirt bikes due to low mass and high torque at all rpms (even 0 rpm). Lean, clean, green, and fun.

Tesla Motors, Tesla Roadster - This is one expensive but nice ride. 100% electric and 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. It uses a BMS (Battery Management System) that can take many small cells and balance their charge and discharge rates to preserve the life each cell. In most battery packs, if one cell goes bad, it can force other cells to pick up the slack causing them to wear out prematurely too. The BMS solves that. This is a production electric car that can outperform many gas sports cars. They're rolling off the factory floor into actual drivers' garages as we speak. The electric car is here.

Subaru Baja - This little gem bucks the trend of my passion for fuel economy but I can't let it be forgotten. At first I called it the Subaru El Camino but over time I grew to like the little micro truck. It has four doors like the Forester or Outback and Subaru's signature all wheel drive. Unlike most SUVs, which I find lacking in sensibility, the Baja has a tiny but actual truck bed. There is enough room for bicycles or a single large appliance like a refrigerator or washing machine. And it's smaller size makes it easier to move around tight parking lots than a gas guzzling Ford F350 would. Like the Honda Insight, this one is out of production so it may be harder to find.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Have I ever mentioned that I love my Scangauge II? Earlier this week, I talked with a fellow hypermiler at work about our scangauges. Mine is newer than his and can use the programmable xgauge functions. His couldn't so now his scangauge is jealous. We even went out to my car to get the manual and double check his for xgauge capability. There was none.

My scangauge II (about $160 at a variety of online stores) came from and has been very nice to have. I have been able to hit more 50+ mpg tanks in my Saturn SL1 with it than I could before I got it. My highest to date is 52.99 mpg. I still think I can beat 55 mpg some day. Right now, anything 53 or more will make me very happy indeed. I recommend a scangauge to any ODBD II compliant car (any car made in or after 1996) that doesn't already have an instantaneous fuel economy gauge.

Did I ever mention that I love my 98 Saturn SL1? It is surprisingly easy to get great fuel economy in the car. A few weeks ago, I took it paintballing up the mountainside above Centerville UT. We were the only car there. I felt like putting a bumper sticker saying, "Gone Places Hummers Won't Go." Which is true (but not conducive to good fuel economy). I've taken this front wheel drive car on muddy rutted roads in Bauer UT and up 30+ degree rocky inclines in Eagle Mountain UT. I have a small radiator leak to prove it. I should get that fixed soon.

Our Scooter, Fuzzy, continues to get ridden fairly regularly, saving us plenty of gas by getting 80+ mpg. And now I'm fully legal! Whoohoo! A few weeks ago, I passed the state riding exam and now I have my Motorcycle endorsement. I mostly just use it on short trips to the grocery store to pick up small items. My wife will take it on around town trips too. Fuzzy will be staying with us for some time to come.