Can You Make Gearheads Love The Prius?

Illustration for article titled Can You Make Gearheads Love The Prius?

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we have reports from Road & Track, Japanese Nostalgic Car and The New York Times.

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Could you learn to love a Prius? The social science of hybridsRoad & Track

What will it take to make old-school gearheads love EVs and hybrids? For one, this researcher at Coventry University in England says they have to get sexier:

“The new Caterham Seven will have a 660cc Suzuki engine with all of 80 horsepower. People are saying, ‘Oh, this is brilliant! Back to the basics!’ Small sports cars used to be the way to have maximum performance at low speeds, and the electric engine is best suited for that now. What if an EV were to herald the return of the small sports car?” Kershaw asks. “I’m not sure enthusiasts would necessarily be resistant.”

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PROFILES: JDM Legends’ 1967 Prince Skyline 2000GT-BJapanese Nostalgic Car

I have always thought the Nissan Skyline is to Japan what the Corvette is to America or the 911 is to Germany, especially in terms of heritage on the track and on the street. The purveyors of JDM porn at Japanese Nostalgic Car have a scoop on one special Skyline from the 1960s, and they also discuss what made the car so great to begin with.

Nissan deserves much of the credit for the Skyline legend, but its seeds were planted years before the merger with the Prince Motor Company. While most of Japan’s 1950s auto industry focused on affordable transportation, PMC, a spinoff of the former Tachikawa Aircraft, focused on producing luxury sedans and large commercial trucks.

Not Just a Hot Cup AnymoreThe New York Times

It's not specifically about cars, but it is about drive-throughs. And the infamous "hot coffee lawsuit" from the early 1990s may be the most misunderstood and misused court cases of the 20th century.

More than 20 years ago, 79-year-old Stella Liebeck ordered coffee at a McDonald’s drive-through in Albuquerque, N.M. She spilled the coffee, was burned, and one year later, sued McDonald’s. The jury awarded her $2.9 million. Her story became a media sensation and fodder for talk-show hosts, late-night comedians, sitcom writers and even political pundits. But cleverness may have come at the expense of context, as this Retro Report video illustrates.

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DISCUSSION

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The Transporter

Could you learn to love a Prius?

No.

I had the opportunity to drive one of these at work recently. In every facet of its design it feels like a car that was designed by women, for women. Even the New Beetle felt like it was designed based on what a group of male engineers thought women wanted.

The car was indecsisive and uncommunicative and expected you to just psychically know what mood it was in. That's right, I said mood. It doesn't have gears, it has moods and it shifts between these moods without logic, reason, or any real warning. I sat in it and tried to turn it on with the push to start button, but it just stood there and called me a perv.

Confused, I consulted some of my co-workers who informed me that it was indeed turned on. I took their word for it and pressed on. The next task was getting it in the right mood (because, as I said, it doesn't have gears). Where a standard automatic shifter would normally be, I found this:

At first glance, it seemed easy to decipher but became more perplexing the more I thought about it. I get R, N, and D, but what the hell is B? And why the hell did they "fix" a format that wasn't really broken? I decided to be a man about it and to just start pushing buttons and pulling levers until the thing started moving. I pulled the shifter left and then down to what I presumed was "drive" when I was shocked to see the Prius slap the shifter away from me and move it back into it's original position.

I asked the Prius if it was in gear, but instead of responding to me it started talking about how it just broke up with it's boyfriend and was feeling very emotional right now, and then out of nowhere it started talking about a phone conversation it had with it's mom recently. I tried to ask it if it was OK, but it ignored me and just continued to talk about the phone conversation with it's mom, and I could tell by what it was saying that it had some severe daddy issues.

Uh oh

I looked over at one of my co-workers who laughed and said "Yeah, she'll do that. just nod and smile and occasionally say 'uh huh, I totally agree' for a little bit and then just press the gas pedal and she'll move." I tried this and, much to my amazement, it worked, but it still continued to talk about the phone conversation with it's mom and it's daddy issues.

I managed to get it to where it needed to be, but just barely. When I tried to put it into park, it just sat there and stared crying. Through the tears and sobs I could just barely make out the words "Why doesn't he love me?" and "Am I ugly?"

At this point, I just stared running.