Mia Duong: 2013 Toyota Prius

By Lois Kim

The Owner/Driver

Mia and her husband’s Priuses! (Photo courtesy of Mia Duong).

Name: Mia Duong

Age: 54

Occupation: Fire Department – Hazmat Coordinator

The Vehicle

Year/make/model: 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

Type: Plug-In Hybrid

Years owned: 6 years

The Experience

What made you decide to go electric and how did you decide what car to get?

We used to live in Irvine, California, then moved further south of Orange County. My commute is now twice as long as it used to be so I wanted an electric vehicle to save on gas and emissions. At the time of my purchase, my choices seemed to be limited to a Chevy Volt and a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The Volt did not offer any purchase incentives whereas the Toyota Prius offered zero down and zero interest. So ultimately, we purchased my 2013 Toyota Prius PHEV. We loved that car so much that a year later, I talked my husband into getting another one. So I have a 2013 and my husband has a 2014 Toyota Prius PHEV!

How has the cost of purchasing and owning your EV compared to the cost of purchasing and owning a conventional car?

So far, I have saved a lot of money and time that I used to spend getting gas. One reason I purchased my 2013 Toyota Prius PHEV was because of the free charging station at my work. For the first two years, work let me charge my car for free! Now I pay about $.60 per charge. I can get 2/3 of the way home before my engine kicks in.

What have been the biggest challenges of going electric?

Every day when I arrive at work, I have to keep an eye out for a spot to charge my car. If there isn’t one, I park my car as close as I can to the chargers and as soon as there’s one available, I run down as fast as I can to move and plug in my vehicle. I have an app on my phone that lets me know as soon as there’s a spot available. Often my wonderful co-workers text me to let me know they’re done charging. They wait for me to arrive before moving their vehicle, so I can take their spot. Waiting for a charger is very annoying at times. If we want to make it easy for people to go electric, we need more charging stations everywhere!

What are the biggest misconceptions of going electric?

People don’t realize how big a deal charger availability is. It’s not very convenient for folks that have electric vehicles to charge their cars as charging stations are not easily available!

Describe one of the farthest/coolest/most ambitious trips you’ve ever taken in your EV.

Mia’s husband and daughter loading her bike into their Prius! (Photo courtesy of Mia Duong).

Since we’ve owned our Priuses for five to six years, we have taken these two vehicles everywhere, especially when the kids were on summer vacation. We’ve also gone to Palm Springs with our Priuses for long bike rides.

Also, our daughter is a freshman at UC Davis, so we have taken our Priuses to UC Davis from Southern California numerous times. The money we save on gas is phenomenal! It is only about $25 to fill each tank. We try to charge the battery whenever we can so we don’t have to use gas.

Do you have any good stories about your experience as an EV owner?

Our family is very sports oriented.  When we lived in Irvine, my husband played a lot of tennis. He ultimately got injured with “tennis elbow”, had to give up tennis, and took up cycling. He got our entire family into cycling as well. Once, when our daughter was 8 and our son was 12, we did a half-century ride (50 miles) in Solvang, CA. My daughter did the tandem with my husband, and my son and I rode solo.

Some people don’t think that electric vehicles are tough enough to support sports, but our family is evidence to the contrary! We use our Priuses to bring our bikes all over the place—check out the photos pictures of my husband and daughter in our 2014 Prius.

What is the number-one thing you think could be done to encourage more people to go electric?

Make people aware of all the great benefits that come with driving EVs! When I first got my 2013 Toyota Prius PHEV, the Clean Air Vehicle decals that came with it let me use the carpool lane while driving solo. My decals are no longer active but it was great while it lasted. We also received rebate checks from the State of California for buying “Clean Air” vehicles. On top of that, my employer gives points for each day that I use my electric vehicle. Four times a year, we turn our points in for great gift cards as an incentive for walking, cycling, carpooling, or using electric vehicles. For me that’s a WIN-WIN!