For years, I’ve worried that auto manufacturers have done nothing to make pickup trucks get better than 20 miles per gallon (MPG).
At Fafco Solar, our technicians use Ford F150 pick up trucks and Ford Rangers.
Outfitted with a cap and a rack they get only 12 to 15 mpg. When we’re busy, we have 10 trucks on the road, so that’s a lot of gas and money we’re burning. I didn’t know what I was going to do as gas prices went up, and I’m always looking for energy savings.
I worried that I would have no control over my future gas bills.
Inspired by the writings of Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute, it dawned on me one day:
We’re using heavy pickup trucks with heavy caps and heavy racks to transport no more than 350 pounds of materials and tools all day, everyday!
This didn’t seem to make good sense to me.
So, I wondered:
What if I could get rid of all the heavy stuff… the truck, the cap and the rack, which don’t really add any value to the work we do, anyway… and find a much lighter and more efficient vehicle that could still handle a 350 pound load?
Personally, I’ve been driving a Prius and totally loving getting 50 mpg, since 2005.
According to the owner’s manual, the Prius has a total carrying capacity of 800 pounds.
I wondered if I could adapt a Prius to our work.
I knew I was going to need a trailer to carry the solar panels, pipe and a ladder. Even though the owner’s manual states a Prius is not designed to tow a trailer, I was willing to give it a try as long as I could keep it light enough.
I bought a small 150-pound trailer and rigged it to carry the large materials. The small materials and hand tools easily fit inside the Prius. (You’d be surprised how much room there is!)
The total weight of the trailer, the materials, the tools and the driver was around 650 pounds, well under the 800-pound maximum.
Troy, one of our service technicians, was selected to be our test driver because he drove more miles than anyone else. He’s been driving the Prius and trailer for over half a year now.
Where he once got 13 mpg, he’s now getting 36 mpg, saving $250 to $350 a month on gas… Depending, of course, on the miles driven and the price of gas. He enjoys his new ride and is constantly talking to curious homeowners about his Prius “truck”.
Based on the results so far, I’m planning on having a fleet of Prius “trucks”!
If you’d like to learn more about this, feel free to contact me, I love helping people conserve energy while saving money & our environment!