This week our Prius odometer hit 40,000 miles. We bought the car in May 2005, exactly three years ago. We average 43 mpg. That means we have purchased 930 gallons of gasoline during the three years, or 310 gallons each year.
Looking at the price of gas in Northern California (blue line) over those three years and estimating an average price of $3.10 per gallon, we spent $961 per year on gasoline.
Had we continued getting that mileage, we would have purchased 580 gallons of gas yearly, or 270 gallons more. That’s an average of savings of $837 per year. And at only 13,000 miles driven per year, we are probably low average.
More importantly, the savings for calendar 2008, with gas at $4.00 here in Northern California, will be $1,080, about $3 per day.
When we bought the Prius, we did not think that gasoline economy would save us enough to make up for the car’s higher price and the possibility that we would have to pay to replace our batteries some day. (Note: Toyota claims that not a single Prius—of over a quarter million sold—has yet to have its battery replaced, and many cars have gone over 200,000 miles). We bought it because we were willing to pay extra to decrease our carbon footprint. But gasoline was half as expensive then as it is now. The equation has now tilted in our favor.
It will only tilt further in the years to come. No one should expect gasoline prices to come down for any extended period of time. Conservation, critical to our nation’s economic health, is now economical as well.