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f1reverb

Holy Audi: The Flip Side of the Perfect Prius . . .

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The story is long and well worth the read . . .

http://www.seattleweekly.com/2009-04-22/news/the-flip-side-of-the-perfect-prius/

This link is to the printer version all on one page . . .

http://www.seattleweekly.com/content/printVersion/628795

The Flip Side of the Perfect Prius

Sometimes the cars accelerate on their own. Sometimes they stop dead. Drivers of the hybrid Prius have discovered they can be an unexpected adventure.

By Paul Knight

published: April 22, 2009

Bobette Riner publishes an electricity index used to promote renewable energy, and she bought a brand-new Prius last year to shoot the bird at the oil companies.

"I felt so smug for a while," she says. "Especially being in Houston."

She had been lucky to score the car from a dealership on Houston's south side, because for nearly a year there had been a three-month wait to get a Prius. The dealership couldn't even keep a model for the showroom.

The car had a "cute little body" that Riner loved, and she reveled in driving like a "nerdy Prius owner," watching the energy-usage display on the car's center console, trying to drain every possible mile from a gallon of gasoline. When she hit 2,000 miles, she could count her trips to a gas station on one hand.

On a rainy night last fall, a couple of months after Riner bought her Prius, she was driving toward the Houston Galleria for a sales meeting. She hated driving in the rain because a car wreck in college catapulted her through the windshield, and doctors almost had to amputate her leg.

Traffic near the mall was congested but moving, and Riner kept the Prius pegged at 60 mph, constantly looking at the console to manage her fuel consumption.

Suddenly she felt the car hydroplaning out of control, and when she glanced at the speedometer she realized the car had shot up to 84 mph. Riner wasn't hydroplaning; quite simply, her Prius had accelerated on its own.

She pushed on the brakes but they were dead. Then just as suddenly as the car had taken off, it shut down. The console lit up with warning lights, leaving Riner fighting a stiff steering wheel as she coasted across four lanes of traffic and down an exit ramp.

The car stopped near a PetSmart parking lot, and Riner sat in disbelief, listening to fat raindrops pelt the Prius, wondering if her new car had actually gone crazy . . .

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