Hybrid Car Ownership Drives People Together

Some hybrid car owners are starting clubs to socialize and to learn how to squeeze even more miles per gallon out of their fuel-efficient vehicles. The number of hybrid owners is still small enough that the owners feel a little “special.” The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:

Transcript

Some hybrid car owners are starting clubs to socialize and to learn
how to squeeze even more miles per gallon out of their fuel-efficient
vehicles. The number of hybrid owners is still small enough that the
owners feel a little “special.” The GLRC’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:


Bradley Fons says he already thought about the environment a lot before he
purchased a used hybrid car three years ago. He bought a Honda Insight:


“…And I kind of figured out how to drive it to get the best mileage but there
was no support, no help out there at that point to assist me.”


Eventually, Fons found a group of hybrid owners who helped him answer
some questions about the car.


(Sound of group meeting)


But this year, with some help from his family, Fons has done one better: he’s
organized a hybrid owners club.


(Marie Fons) “…And put your name on one of these little things, for a door prize. I know, work, work, work, work, work. Here, you guys want to work on the
door prize thing?”


Bradley Fons’ wife, Marie, is helping about two dozen people check in. This
is the first meeting of the hybrid owners group. They get to know each
other by their name, their city, and the kind of hybrid they drive:


“I’m Kathy Moody from Racine and I have a ’05 Prius.”


“I’m Bill Vaness from Waukesha and I ride in my wife’s ’03 Prius (laughs).”


(Group member) “At least you’re honest.”


“My name is Sherrie Schneider, I’m from Bristol and I have an ’06 Civic. Picked it up about a month ago and I’m here to learn a lot ’cause I don’t know how to get the mileage you all
are getting but I’m going to learn (laughs).”


And so Bradley and Marie Fons go into teaching mode, offering encouragement and advice about how to get the most miles per gallon from the cars. The hybrid of gas engine and electric batteries usually cost more to buy more than similarly sized conventional cars. So the new owners are anxious about getting the best mileage possible.


Bradley Fons preaches patience. He says for new vehicles, owners have to work through
the car’s several thousand mile break-in period before they get the kind of gas
efficiency the cars can reach:


“So if you’re getting in the forties, ya know, high 40, mid 40, to low 50s in
a Prius and it’s new, don’t worry about it, ya know. It’ll come.”


Fons says some of these cars will get miles-per-gallon in the 60s and 70s. Then there are
the controversial people who’ve become what’s known as “hyper-milers,” getting 80 or 90
miles per gallon through various means that even the hyper-milers concede aren’t
completely safe.


Fons introduces Wayne Gerdes, who tells how to steer a hybrid
in the air draft right behind 18-wheel trucks:


“Hopefully you’ll understand that this close in, is this one car to one and a half second
back, that’s a dangerous area. I don’t recommend anybody doing it, but you’re gonna find
your fuel economy going through the roof on that.”


The hybrid owners club that the Fons family has organized also takes club
members out in hybrids for some lessons on the road:


“So we’ll go down, ya know, another set of streets.”


Bradley Fons sits in the front passenger seat of a Toyota hybrid. He’s
teaching a club member named Bill a driving method called the “pulse-and-
glide.” Basically, it involves only occasionally tapping the gas pedal and coasting
a lot, so that neither the car’s motor or electric battery system is operating much.


When pulse-and-glide is done right, a monitor on the dashboard reports a surge in
fuel efficiency. After some difficulty, Fons helps Bill get the hang of it:


“All right, foot totally off. Now just on a little, there you are. You’re in it, hold it,


(Bill) “Do you take your foot off when you’re in there, though?”


“No, you have to leave pressure on it. Boy, that was the longest glide you did (laughs)!”


It’s moments like these that make Bradley Fons glad he and his family are helping to
spread the hybrid car message. But Fons sees an opportunity for members of his club to
go outside the group and become pro-hybrid activists:


“Hoping dealers get more hybrid cars, working for candidates that push alternative fuels,
sustainable energy, anything that can be done…because at this point in time it hasn’t been
coming from the government. They’ve done some, but our group doesn’t feel they’ve done
enough.”


Fons says politicians should listen to hybrid owners and hybrid clubs, because they’re
offering part of the solution to America’s oil addiction.


For the GLRC, I’m Chuck Quirmbach

Related Links

Study: Acid Rain Depletes Soil Nutrients

Acid rain isn’t a new threat to the environment. But its effect on trees and soils has been a point of debate. Now, a new study supports the theory that acid rain can deplete nutrients in forest soil. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Corbin Sullivan has more:

Transcript

Acid rain isn’t a new threat to the environment. But its effect on trees and soils has
been a point of debate. Now, a new study supports the theory that acid rain can
deplete nutrients in forest soil. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Corbin Sullivan
has more:


Acid rain is caused by emissions mostly from coal-fired power plants. It’s linked to “dead”
lakes and streams that have become too acidic for fish and other organisms.


But a new study published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal says the
addition of even a small amount of acid to forest soils can deplete minerals needed for
plant and animal survival.


Ivan Fernandez is the lead author of the study. He says the study showed the loss of
several nutrients, but he’s most concerned with calcium loss.


“Calcium both reduces the toxicity of bad things as well as being a required essential nutrient.
If you lose too much calcium, you can have direct nutrient deficiencies.”


Fernandez says when minerals like calcium and magnesium are lost the result is
slower plant growth. He also says the loss of these minerals can lead to poor water quality.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Corbin Sullivan.