MasterCraft Hybrid PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steven Horn   

At MasterCraft, we try our best to be responsible citizens and respect the environment wherever possible. We are firm believers in solutions that make environmental and economical sense.

In the past year, I added a superintendent to our company which dramatically changed my daily responsibilities and tasks. In the past, I would have several times during a week were I would have to bring materials and supplies to one of our jobsites. I also have a large family and so the Suburban that I drove, made perfect sense.

With a superintendent driving a company truck to the jobsites, I realized that I was burning large amounts of fuel each week in a vehicle that was only being used to transport myself.

A fuel efficient car was a logical solution, but it still posed one problem. The industry standard in construction is to either drive a truck or SUV. I had concerns about overcoming that stereotype but decided that the alternative benefits were too high. Sometimes, one person making a change can start a chain reaction effect that affects a whole industry.

My choice after much research was to purchase Toyota Prius Hybrid. Prior to purchasing the Prius, we did some research on the pros and cons of hybrid vehicles. Here is some of the information that we gathered.

The first concern we had was whether or not the fuel mileage would in fact be accurate. (The 2012 Toyota Prius boasts a 51-city/48 highway MPG) Many cars on the market boast of an impressive fuel mileage, but when placed in everyday working and driving conditions those numbers tend to suffer. Many articles we consulted stood behind the advertised MPG saying that they drove more effiecently in their cars. After one month of Prius ownership the mileage predictions have proven accurate. In a variety of settings the combined average has been 48 MPG. (Toyota)

The biggest concern for most people looking into buying a hybrid vehicle is the lifespan of the battery that the car relies on. We researched several articles that presented different opinions on battery life and the potential costs of battery replacement. Most articles chose to examine the batteries found in some of the original Toyota Prius that were released from 1999-2001. Consumer Report decided to compare the current performance of a 2002 Prius with 206,000 miles on with its original data collected almost a decade ago. The results were very reassuring. Ten years later the gas mileage and acceleration statistics had barely changed, and test drivers claimed that it drove almost identically to the original. However, the most interesting fact was that it was still running on its original battery! (Consumer Report)

If the situation calls for it, battery replacement might be necessary at some point in the car’s life. Battery replacement for your hybrid vehicle is not cheap, but the costs have decreased greatly over time. In the year 2000 a new battery pack would cost approximately $8,000, now most sell for an average of $2,300 or $2,600 from a dealer. On another positive note, Toyota service departments have a program in place that will recycle the used nickel-metal-hydride battery packs when they die and usually compensate the owner for providing the material. (Green Car Reports) (Consumer Report)

I realize that there are some cases where, as a contractor, a truck is still needed on the jobsite. Recently, GM has released a line of Hybrid trucks that do provide a respectable level of fuel savings. While researching this option we came across a line of plug-in hybrid trucks that get a mileage equivalent of almost 100 MPG! The company producing these vehicles is called VIA Motors. They take GM trucks and convert them into a plug-in hybrid style vehicle. Critics say that despite being a hybrid, the vehicle provides plenty of towing torque and can perform all the functions of a typical six-cylinder truck. The one downside to this product is it’s cost; the Silverado based VIA will cost $79,000. Currently there is great interest in the vehicle from companies operating large fleets of trucks. VIA is working on reducing the individual costs to help families and small business owners afford it. If the price is right, this could be another great alternative to contractors looking to save money and promote ecofriendly principles. (NY Times)

Armed with all of this knowledge on the potential of buying and operating a hybrid vehicle I was ready to make the switch.

In June, I traded the Suburban for a new Toyota Prius Hybrid. Based on the average mileage from the Suburban (15 mpg) versus the average mileage of the Prius (48 mpg), I calculated that my savings in fuel alone over 4 years would be $16,044. That is based on 25,000 miles per year at an average fuel cost of $3.50 per gallon. I am not just saving money, driving the Prius will also save 4,584 gallons of fuel over 4 years.

Making the switch was not easy, but the long term benefits of owning a hybrid as a small business owner and contractor make sense. Driving long distances to visit with potential clients or checking up on several jobsites located throughout the area is no longer a financial burden. As a “Green” homebuilder it is also a good example to stand by eco-friendly products such as the hybrid car. I I highly recommend this car for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and relieve the financial stress of commuting and travel costs.

 

 

 

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