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...of the Hybrid Vehicle Fools tomorrow.

We've had our names put on the waiting list for a 2004 since January and of course we haven't gotten ours yet. Today, MrsDuck and I went to court this morning (to testify against Fred The Illegal Builder), but coming back, we had to drive by our Toyota dealer. We decided to drop in and visit our salesman and beat him, ask him nicely how soon we should expect to see our Prius. Turns out the waiting list hadn't really shrunken down at all since I check them last month. The calculations were starting to look as though it would be next APRIL before we'd get a 2004 (then 2005?) Prius.

MrsDuck started asking the sales guy detailed questions ("Where is the car made? How many are distributed to each dealer? Are shipments being affected by the dock-workers' strike? What is their annual production capacity?") Stuff that the typical consumer probably wouldn't ask. The salesman could do nothing but sit there and apologize repeatedly, so I didn't believe much was accomplished by badgering a guy who has no control over vehicle deliveries.

Anyway, as we left, out front they had a 2003 Prius, a used one with 20K miles. We looked at it a bit, but we had assumed that the first-generation Prius was too small for us and that only the 2004 would be big enough. Our plan was to make sure we had a good mileage car that could hold me, MrsDuck, and the Ducklings comfortably, and be able to transport all of us without undue pain, in case we're not where we could drive the Aztek. Or in case our working commutes change, either vehicle would be big enough for everyone.

We went out to lunch and discussed this, then we quickly drove home, and I checked out used-car values for this Prius (2003, 20K miles, various options) over KBB, NADA, and Edmunds and we came up with a figure $2000 below the price of the one at the dealer.

So we trotted back up there, took the 2003 for a test drive. Turns out that except for not enough driver's seat length of travel, it was comfortable to drive with me in front and MrsDuck in back and vice-versa (Which means the Ducklings can ride behind me and still be comfortable.) We made an offer, about 2/3 the price of a 2004, and $2000 less than their displayed price. The salesman didn't flinch too much, but didn't play any games. He did go away once and mentioned that his sales manager raised a little fuss, but "everything was cool, we can go ahead on this one". Actually that didn't make me feel too good, because that meant we were still probably well above the lowest price that they would part with it. Well, at least what we bought it for was still within the 3 web page's estimates, so we don't feel we got robbed.

So we'll take delivery of it tomorrow evening after work.

Then we can enjoy the good mileage. On the test drive the on-board computer had us averaging 50MPG just during our little half-hour run around the block (10 miles up the freeway and back). We'll see what happens for real.

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