Toyota Prius Fuel Economy – Gasonomics

Toyota Prius Fuel Economy and other thoughts by Rick Butler

With 9336 kilometres behind us, Emili (out Toyota Prius) has snacked on 446 litres of gas for an average of 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres ( app. 60 mile per gallon ) at a cost of $384.00 ( average of 84 cents per litre ). Her best performance to date is Winnipeg to Crookston, Minnesota with an average of 4.1 litres per 100 km, a very flat smooth highway on an extremely still day. Her worst mileage was Swift Current to Regina, an average of 5.4 litres per 100 km into a strong head wind. Most surprising was the trip from Winnipeg to Thompson and back, Emili drank at a rate of 4.8 litres per 100 km. I thought the mileage would have been better considering the route is generally level and we did not seem to have much head wind. Emili is not getting near the Toyota stated fuel economy of 4.0 city and 4.2 highway. She is improving however; the last 3 fill-ups her average was 4.3, probably due in no small part to the 55 mile per hour speed limit, and sticking to the back highways, we continually must slow to 30 or 35 miles per hour in the never ending stream of very small towns. Although this is not a conclusive trend I am encouraged and will continue to improve my own driving habits in an attempt to reach the stated fuel economy. Being pushed by traffic up hills exacerbates her economy. If climbing a hill with no one behind, we can let Emili slow down to keep her revs low, and with the assistance of the electric engine her rate of imbibing is far less than it is when traffic is on her “hiney” chasing her up hill at highway speed.

At 84 cents per litre for gas North Americans enjoy the cheapest fuel prices in the world. Thus far in the States we have seen gas prices from 62 cents per litre ($1.79 U.S. per gal) to 70 cents per litre ($2.03 U.S. per gal.). No wonder we have become so dependant on the stuff and squander it so. The most popular vehicles sold in North America are S. U. V.s that get about 18 miles to the gallon, not to mention the pollutants being added to the air we breathe from their very large exhaust pipes. The consumer class in China and India are growing by leaps and bounds and they want what we in North America have had for decades, which will increase the demand exponentially on our already limited caches of oil. Vehicle sales grew by 70 per cent in China last year and India is close behind. Vehicles consume about half of the total oil produced. Oil is gulped up in the production of many disposable products that our consuming nation has become accustomed to, such as: polyesters, plastics, furniture, paints, clothing, computers, and printer cartridges (about 3 quarts is needed for 1 cartridge); the list is in the thousands. Changing our buying habits and opting for products that are not oil based would have a tremendous impact on reducing the drain of oil reserves.

Oil production peaked (growth in demand surpassed the falling rate of supply) in the U. S. in 1970 and in North America as a whole in 1984. Many recent studies by a critical mass of scientists conclude that global oil output will peak in 2010. The International Energy Agency predicts that there will be a 20 per cent shortfall of production to meet the demands for oil by as early as 2020. Global discovery has been declining for decades.

The real issue is not “when” our demand will outstrip supply, but rather the fact that we are squandering more than mother earth can provide, so it is “inevitable” that the supply of oil will diminish. We are finding about 1 barrel of new oil for every 6 barrels consumed. It took millions of years and dead dinosaurs to produce our liquid gold; is that going to occur again in our life time or that of our children or grand children?

I believe mankind will find ways to move from our oil based economy; however, this won’t happen until we are forced to pay higher prices for fossil fuels so that alternatives become competitive. Governments need to stop granting oil subsidies and invest those dollars in other types of energy production. Higher fuel costs will induce conservation of what we have left. Higher fuel prices will cause us to invest in the technologies necessary to move us away from oil and into our next evolution of energy.

Car manufacturers moving toward hybrid vehicle technology is a positive step in the right direction. Something we can all do when considering our next vehicle purchase is to think of a smaller more fuel efficient engine or a hybrid to both reduce our fuel costs and dependency on fossil fuels.


  3 comments for “Toyota Prius Fuel Economy – Gasonomics

  1. David Knight

    Hey Rick and Irene- I have to say you are living life to the fullest. Something I hope to do down the road myself. Nothing in the works for me right now… except a 5-day paddling/camping excursion in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior. Pretty tame stuff really. But I enjoy this new site of yours and look forward to seeing more. I can’t believe you were in Minnesota and didn’t drop me a note!!! Anyway, take care of yourselves and each other. Safe Travels, -Dave

  2. at

    Good article Rick! I feel like quite the oddball (fancy that) but when ever those emails come around planning boycotts of certain gas stations to attempt a reduction of gas prices- I reply: “I wish gas would cost more…” Yup- it will curb our unsustainble and noxious habit. Ever since i brought Leif into this world I have less and less tolerance for gas waste. I fell compelled when I watch (and smell) someone idelling their vehicle for no reason. Four times i have asked people to turn them off.

  3. 1. The first was a cop on a suped-up moterbike in line at a parade. He said “No, im leaving right away.” I pointed at my baby downwind from the exhaust. He turned off the beast. The crowd around me cheered. He stayed for 20 minutes.
    2. Then i had a really bad day and Leif was a-wailing in the stroller. I watched and stewed over an idiling car at a bank from 2 blocks away. By the time i arrived the man smiled from his open window a look of poor you. I uncontrollably made a “turn off the car” gesture. He looked surprised and did it.
    3. I was in line at the ferry, we had just missed the boat and it would be at least an hour before the next sailing. A car pulled up behind us and had it running for at least 8 excruciating minutes. I knocked on the window and said to a woman in passenger seat that it would be an hour, and I noticed her car running and maybe she thought the ferry was coming. She said no, it was hot out, and she would tell her husband. I thought “you think its hot now, hey, HAVE YOU HEARD OF GLOBAL WARMING???” But i just sat and stewed. Hubby came and turned off vehicle.
    4. On another trip the ferry arrival announcment was made, and a car in front turned on the gasinator. I said they must have heard the ferry was boarding, but it wont be another 10 minutes. They told me they left their lights on, and they know better than to run a vehicle.
  4. That’s only the begining of my quest. My friend Anysley, who is an amazing environmentalist, has researched: to restart a vehicle takes 10 seconds of gas. I want to print up some bumper stickers to tell people to “Do the math!”

    thanks rick