Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Hybrid


I did it! I finally went hybrid...and got a car that I wasn't actually planning to get.

Hybrid Hunting
If you have been reading this blog you will probably know my "stop and go" journey on cutting back on driving, and finding alternative methods of transportation like walking, my bike, and taking the metro. I am still not at the point where I am willing to drop a car entirely so I figured it's time to move up to a hybrid. It's time because the car industry is dropping prices like Wallmart and I knew someone who was interested in buying my old car.

If you can't tell already, when I have an idea to do something I usually just jump right in. :) So, I went online and checked out the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape. Those were in the right price range and size ranges for me. Based on my extensive 1 hour read, and my experience riding in a friend's Prius and a eco-taxi Escape...I called the bank to work out financing and the Toyota dealership to tell them I was on my way.

A few days later ... after cautions from my family and close friends I decided to take a day and to do a test drive of the hybrids that I was interested in - plus added two more to the list Mercury and Lexus.

I do not like car shopping and was jazzed about the car buying service I was using with USAA. So, going out to do test drives was going to put me into the den of the lion! But I reminded myself that I am a Leo and was a match for any salesman with my keen poker face. Off I went with boyfriend and mom to test drive these magnificent machines.

We started with the Escape. I didn't mind the sparse interior (the easier to keep clean, I'm thinking) but the handling and ride were okay. It also seemed to quickly go to engine and mostly used combo engine/battery power. The switch from engine to engine/battery was also jerky and loud. It was still pleasant car but I was ready to move on. Sorry Ford...I had high hopes...the eco-taxi rode well.

Next the Prius. Again, the interior was sparse, and the dash was really high-tech. In fact it was a little too spacey for me. It's all digital and seems to be projected to you. The dashboard reminded me of the Ford Taurus which I learned how to drive in... and I didn't like the Ford Taurus. But, I did love the hybrid engine display! So, I was still happy with the Prius idea.

Mercury...I didn't test drive the Mercury. The man at the Mercury dealer was very honest letting us know that the Mercury and the Ford Escape were the same car, different features. So off we went to Lexus.

No one warned me about the Lexus. Lexus is a different level of car all together, and so is a Lexus dealership. Wow, if you want to feel special...go test drive a Lexus. You don't need to buy one, just go for the experience and the great little coffee/mocha/hot chocolate machine in the waiting room. The Lexus was the Prius and more. I test drove the RX400h because it's the only one I could even come close to affording. Wow! Smooth! Maximized battery usage! Great display! Rode like my old 4-runner which I loved (sorry about comparing it to a 4-runner, but it's everything good that I loved about my 4-runner!!!) I was quite pleased. But, it was still more expensive than I wanted to pay. Next stop Carmax.

Carmax is a really great experience. It's not cushy like Lexus but very friendly! I took my old car to Carmax and got an estimate on the value. They valued it higher than I was expecting, and Lexus said they would honor the estimate. I also checked on the price of some used Lexus cars. (Would that me Lexi?) With the increased value of my car and the discounts I could get with Lexus and USAA, it brought the price down to something I could afford. Success!

So here I am with my new Hybrid...happily reducing my carbon footprint.

(Thanks C for the "happily reducing my carbon footprint" line. That's what she said when she saw my picture.

Having fun reducing my footprint




I've been away from the computer for the holidays, but I'm back and have lots to share!

Green Holiday

Not only has my Christmas been green because of no snow this winter, but because I found ways to reuse and recycle! Here are some of the things I did this Christmas, please add your comments to let me know what you did.
- Christmas cards- I only sent out about 15 this year. I did photos and sent them in recycled paper envelopes. The rest of my holiday greetings were done via the computer.
- Decorations - I bought no new decorations this year. I reused the ones from last year in new ways. This year, since I live in an apartment, I just decorated the mantle and living room. We have many families in my area that can't afford decorations for the holidays. My church did a collection and gave them out to the families the week before Christmas. What a great way spread holiday cheer!
- Gifts - All of the gift exchanges I participated in this year were white elephant gift exchanges. It was so much fun seeing the crazy re-gifting. If the item was really odd, there was usually a $5 starbucks card taped to the bottom of it. :) Also, a fun way to wrap presents is using fabric. I attached some fun and unique ways to wrap with fabric. If you don't have great handkerchiefs or fabrics at home go out to the thrift stores and find some old holiday prints!
- Party dishes - I've been charged to provide the side or vegetable for most of the holiday parties I have attended. So, my dish this year is a roasted root dish. Cut up some organic turnips, celery, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc.; coat with olive oil; salt and pepper and then bake it on a cookie sheet for 50 min -- stirring once. Yum! You have to try this! I bring my dish in a reusable container! No disposables for the land fill. :)
- Alternative Gifts - Instead of getting some of my relatives another thing to put in their homes I sent an alternative gift of a donation. For example: I donated $20 to Habitat for Humanity and gave them a card that I made using a Habitat for Humanity theme and noted I gave a donation in their name. Many of my older relatives that already have everything they want really appreciate those types of gifts.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ford's part of the bailout








I am really impressed with Ford Motor company and have been since 2005.

I owned a Ford Escort diesel station wagon back in 1989. I never thought of Ford as a premiere auto company, but they made okay cars. The old 1960s mustangs were still the most impressive. That and their truck line. Our family car was the Ford Mustang II and that was driven until it fell apart. :) When I graduated from college I bought a Honda Civic and didn't look back.

In 2005 I crossed paths with Ford again in my Sustainability course when I was getting a Masters of Science in Management. I learned terms like Green Thinking, Waste=Food, sustainable design and how Ford was transforming. The CEO took this and made it the vision for Ford. I thought...YES! They took the manufacturing plant and put a green roof on it. Ford was paying a lot of money for the pollution they spewed into the river at the plant in Detroit and into the air. They invested in the philosophy that waste=food and the environment in and outside the plan is improving.

Then I learned about Ford's Hybrid line of vehicles. Go Ford! I really got excited about Ford again. More so than the roll out of the new Ford Mustang convertible. I am really excited about their hybrid and hopefully soon an electric line of cars. That is the future and that is where Ford seems to be heading. My hope for them is to continue in that vein and to build a smaller version of they Hybrid Escape, and Hybrid versions of the Edge and Focus...and the ultimate would be a Hybrid Miata. I would squeal like a 5 year old on Christmas morning if Ford came out with a Hybrid Miata in 2010.

On the radio tonight I heard an interview with the CEO of Ford and he talked about their company's participation with the auto industry bailout. I was very impressed with Ford's present financial situation. He talked about focusing on the Ford and Mazda product lines, continuing to improve the safety and efficiency of their cars (thank goodness after the Ford Explorer fiasco in 1996-1997) and continue to grow their hybrid and alternative powered lines. He also stated they are in a good financial situation, they are not going bankrupt and they sold off excess product lines. Ford is focused and Ford is fierce!

Ford, my hope for you is that you continue to grow.
-Build green manufacturing plants, showrooms and car lots
-Transport your cars using trucks fueled by hydrogen and solar power
-Start a line of electric cars
-Build cars that will capture and/or create energy that can be pumped back into the home or storage batteries in parking lots
-Invest in green communities that do not need to use their cars as much
-Create a new and innovative ways in personal transport
-Be the leader in not just the auto industry but in a new economy of alternative fuels and renewable resources
-Push your sustainable concepts to your suppliers and out to your customers
-Partner with universities and put bright young minds to work on these technical challenges
-Partner with schools to educate our next generation

Ford ... UGOGRN!

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