H.O.P. Anniversary: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in News | Posted on 24-07-2013


HOP_02It’s been two years since Smart Motors held its Hybrids On Parade (HOP) event here in Madison, Wisconsin, a showcase of over 200 hybrid and electric vehicles from 10 different states. The parade of vehicles set a Guinness World Record, which is still held today. The HOP event, along with many other hybrid vehicle-focused events, have both garnered interest in, and promoted the benefits of, these alternative fuel vehicles here in Madison. In our own backyard, as well as across the U.S., more and more consumers are educating themselves about, and ultimately choosing, these hybrid and electric vehicles.


Check out the Official Guiness World Record web page

Check out the Official Guiness World Record web page


In the years since the HOP event, hybrid and electric vehicles have grown steadily in U.S. market share, reaching 3.1 % of total vehicles, which was up over 40% from the previous year, according to Experian.com. Another reflection of America’s increasing affinity for adopting these alternative vehicles is the recent milestone of 3 million Toyota Prius’ sold, which occurred earlier this Summer. You need only look back a mere decade at the availability of hybrid and electric vehicles to see that we, collectively, have begun to embrace these new technologies. When the Prius hit the U.S. market in 2000, it was one of only two (Honda Insight) hybrid vehicles readily available. Today, nearly every major auto manufacturer offers hybrid technology; from entry-level brands like Kia, to premium luxury brands, including Porsche. Toyota alone now offers 8 hybrid or electric vehicles, including the brand new RAV4 EV (currently available in California only).

Here in Madison, the hybrid revolution presses on, with hybrids making up for a growing percentage of new car sales, and EV infrastructure improvements popping up all over town.

Madison Gas & Electric maps out all EV charging station locations

Madison Gas & Electric maps out all EV charging station locations


Our local utilities provider, Madison Gas & Electric, has gone so far as to install 26 EV charging stations across the community, making it easier for EV owners to stay fueled up, and making the choice to go electric that much more practical.  (Check out the StoryBridge link below for a cool video)




On the anniversary of 2010’s Hybrids On Parade event, we’d like to extend a big thanks and congratulations to those who participated. Let’s continue to cultivate the growing hybrid and electric vehicle culture in our communities and beyond. Here’s to a cleaner, quieter, hybrid-filled future!








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Prevent Car Trouble on Summer Trips

Posted by Smart Motors | Posted in Automotive, Driving, Family, News, Service | Posted on 02-07-2013

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Heading off for a summer road trip?  Here are a few pointers to help ensure that your trip goes smoothly.




Tire Pressure – Tires should be inflated to manufacturer’s recommendation; you can find the recommended tire pressure label inside the driver door-jamb, in the glove box of most vehicles, or in the owner’s manual.  Under-inflated tires become hot, and can cause a blow-out.   Properly inflated tires also save on fuel.  Also, check your spare to make sure it is ready to use just in case.


Check your door-jamb for tire and inflation information

Coolant – Make sure your anti-freeze/coolant is up to date and the level is full.  Use only the coolant recommended by the manufacturer for your particular car, and have it serviced according to the recommended maintenance schedule.

Washer Fluid and Wiper Blades – With plenty of bugs flying this time of year you need to make sure you have a full tank of washer fluid.  Make sure your wipers don’t streak, and that the rubber is not split or torn.  Wipers should typically be changed once per year.

Engine Oil – Check your oil level, making sure it is on the full mark.  Double check that your service is up to date, and if your trip will cause you to exceed the mileage that is recommended for your next oil change, change it early.  Clean oil will protect your engine and keep it cooler better than dirty oil.

Battery – Hot weather is actually harder on batteries than cold weather.  Inspect your battery terminals for excess corrosion.  Corrosion can be cleaned off by making a paste with baking soda and water and scrubbing off with a wire brush.  If your battery is older, it is a good idea to have it checked before you go on a long trip.  Any signs of acid leakage and the battery should be replaced.

Belts and Hoses – Visually check that hoses do not appear to be leaking or bulging.  Look at the underside of the belts, and if there are any cracks in the ribbing, the belts should be changed.


Replace cracked belts

Lights – Make sure all lights work, including license plate and side-marker lights.  Make sure the headlamp lenses are clean and clear for best night driving.



First Aid Kit – Have basic supplies like bandages, burn ointment, insect bite treatment, anti-biotic ointment and alcohol wipes available.

Water – You never know if you will find yourself stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day and not be able to get off the road to get drinks.  Have water for all occupants available.  Power bars are also good to have on hand in case you can’t get to food easily.

A Fully-Charged Cell Phone – Today’s cell phones are loaded with useful options from GPS to lodging suggestions. Of course, in an emergency, the ability to contact help is the phone’s most valuable function. Also, purchasing a car charger for your phone will ensure you’ve always got enough battery life.

A Flashlight with Fresh Batteries – Whether you have to locate lost items under seats, change a tire in the dark, or flag down assistance, a flashlight can prove very useful. Many smart phones can be used as a short-term flashlight by simply downloading an app.

A Road Atlas – GPS is great, but not always perfect for finding detours.

A Rain Suit – Even large trash bags can be used in a pinch, but it is a good idea to have rain protection in case you have to change a tire in bad weather.



In addition to making sure your tires are properly inflated, here a few other tips to help save fuel:

Use Cruise Control – Studies have shown that by maintaining a steady speed over all terrains by using cruise control, you will improve your fuel economy.

Use A/C – It may sound counterintuitive, but A/C is more efficient than opening windows, because open windows create excessive drag.  The most efficient is to do neither, but driving in a hot car can speed up driver fatigue.

Drive the Speed Limit – As unpopular as this might sound, every 5 mph you add will decrease your fuel economy by up to 10%.  It becomes more pronounced over 65 mph.


Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and trouble-free summer road trip!

 – From Contributor, Matt Jones, Smart Toyota Service Manager and 18+ year automotive service and repair professional

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