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(September 21–25, 2005)

Michael Stoss

Steam Engine from 1856 with 135 hp

Scott Stillman

Saving Energy With My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

September 25, 2005 - 5:00 PM

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© 2005 Scott Stillman, All Rights Reserved.

This is my car, a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. It fits well into the theme of “Energy” for so many reasons. I bought it used in July 2005 after spending very little energy looking for it. I made one call to my cousin that sells cars to tell him I wanted a hybrid, and he had the perfect car for me. Our car’s name is Lisa, abbreviated from Honda Lisa. If you say it fast and follow USA politics then you may see the play on words that we make somewhat not endearingly. However, we LOVE Lisa the hybrid.

My 1996 Subaru was a great car but after 9 years, was not energy efficient. In anticipation of rising fuel costs that will likely never return to pre-war prices, I decided that I was going to get a car that used less fuel for two reasons. I wanted to do my part to use less fuel and conserve energy. Secondly, I did not want to feel taken advantage of by the Oil companies in the name of higher profits and shareholder return.

I love driving a hybrid for both of those reasons. Plus, it is fun to drive and guess what? It drives like any other car. The day that prices rose steeply after Hurricane Katrina, two people asked me about my car at the gas station pictured in this panorama. I think however slowly, it is starting to dawn on people in the USA that energy conservation is part of the answer to maintaining our quality of life, not just complaining about higher energy costs.

Since purchasing the car in July, I have taught myself how to drive more efficiently using 70.275 gallons of gasoline to drive 3161 miles for an average of 45 miles per gallon. I would have been lucky to get half that mileage figure in my Subaru. There also seems to be a public relations campaign to discredit the hybrids but this was a real world test over 6 tanks of gas with mixed highway and city driving.

The interesting thing about energy usage in cars sold in the USA is that the current standard for rating fuel efficiency is a farce. Cars are sold here with energy usage figures based on a 30 year old assumption that we drive 48 miles per hour on a flat road in moderate temperatures without the air-conditioning on. Also, the testing is done by the manufacturers themselves and not by an independent organization. This means that every car is rated at a minimum of 10% over its likely performance, and perhaps over-rated much higher than that.

I am now using half the amount of fuel compared to my last car. Ironically, the same cities that once tore up the streetcar tracks to build roads for cars only, are now re-installing the tracks for public transportation. We have a long way to go.
Nikon D1X with 10.5mm fisheye, Bogen 303sph panoramic head on a bogen 3021BPRO tripod. That is a pretty big set up for the front seat of the car. Images edited in Photoshop and stitched in Stitcher 4.0 on a Mac G4.

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