The Insider

The Charlotte Observer
Don Hudson
Mar 28, 2004

Samuelson was one of the first people in town to get one of Toyota's new Prius cars, but she was only the second in her family.

Her mother, Peggy Culbertson, got hers two weeks before. Samuelson, a Mecklenburg county commissioner, ended up getting the same color as her mom's, champagne gold.

"I had never had a new car before," said Samuelson. "I said, `You mean I have a choice?' "

Samuelson said she is only getting about 49 miles per gallon because so many people are test-driving her car and stomping the hybrid gas/electric engine to see if it has any oomph.

Add the Big I to the list of pedal stompers.

EPA estimates are 60 mpg in city traffic, when it is generating electric power, and 51 mpg on the highway. Toyota dealer Scott Clark said the waiting list stretches into next year for a Prius.

A diehard Republican, Samuelson bristled when asked about the Bush administration giving a $1,500 tax credit on a Prius while allowing small businesses that buy a $50,000 Hummer H2 to get a full tax writeoff in one year.

"It stinks," she said, "figuratively and literally."

Samuelson isn't totally green. She still owns a vintage 1978 Red Corvette. But it is the small-block V-8, and a weekend-only car.

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