If you live near the San Joaquin River tributaries throughout the Central Valley, chances are you may have seen one of the many large Ford trucks in our fleet of field vehicles. Our field trucks range from the affectionately named “Minnow” Ford Ranger, to a full-size F-350 Super Duty. While these vehicles provide the towing and off-road capability required by the rigorous conditions we sometimes encounter in the field, not every job requires a rough and tumble ride. With that in mind, we recently purchased a Toyota Prius C for our remote Chico office. With Chico located roughly 160 miles from our Oakdale office, the hybrid engine allows us to save on our travel budget and be more in keeping with our company values regarding sustainability.
The average fuel economy of a new F-350 Super Duty lies somewhere between 12 and 13 miles per gallon (mpg), a far cry from the Prius C’s 50 mpg average. It’s short stature and compact size, at 56.9 inches tall and 157.3 inches long, are an added benefit to those making trips to Sacramento or the Bay Area, where finding parking for even an average sized vehicle can be a challenge. As this Prius is the first hybrid driving experience for several of us around the office, there was some concern that we were somehow stalling the car when the gas engine shuts down and silently switches to the electric motor (which has also led to some amusing confusion when starting the car as well).
The small size of the Prius does provide a few challenges not initially considered, such as leg room being in short supply in the backseat. Our taller staff members are therefore given “shotgun” priority by default. While being an excellent vehicle to get you around the city, the car’s ride height makes trips into the field a questionable endeavor, and the cargo space maxes out quickly when traveling as a group. However, these minor issues are nothing when considering the $10 it takes to fill the gas tank. Regardless, the Prius makes for a zippy little car that makes sense for our non-field-related transportation needs. Keep a lookout for that eye-catching shade of blue – not to mention all the FISHBIO badging!