Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Hybrid Hysteria

There’s been heaps of media lately about Rudd’s announcement on local production of Hybrid Camrys by Toyota at Altona. Some of the comment, both for and against, has bordered on hysteria.

Precious little commentary has focused on the merits of the hybrid as a vehicle.

About four years ago, the manager of the fleet that I use in my advisory work leased three Toyota Prius Hybrids*. All three have just about finished their lease period, with an average odo reading of about 80000km. This distance has been covered by a range of drivers (a mix of gender, age and experience) and in a variety of conditions (city and bush driving, extremes of temperature, and roads varying from freeways to graded gravel).

On a couple of occasions I used a Prius to drive to places as far west as Cunnamulla, and on one trip I covered 1600km in 5 days. You get to know a vehicle pretty well in these situations.

The cars have proved the most reliable in the fleet, with less down time than, for example, the Commodores. Most drivers, once they’ve adjusted to the unique gear drive selector, enjoy driving them. My personal experience has been positive, especially when driven in the city, where 4.8lit/100km is the best I’ve seen in real world conditions. On the open road, they drop to 5.5 lit/100km, just the opposite phenomenon of conventional vehicles.

They’re not very suitable for gravel surfaces, because of their light build and low ground clearance, but driven with care, they can be used in these situations. They are also not an enthusiast’s car, having as much personality as a wheeled household appliance. But then, if I want to drive something for enjoyment, rather than as a work tool, I’d use my MX5 roadster. My hire vehicle of choice is the Prius, because of the fuel savings. I drove one around Adelaide last January in temperatures over 40 degrees with no hassles.

In fact, if I hadn’t needed a car that would tow a trailer, my last purchase would probably have been a Prius, bought through an ex-government fleet auction. For mine, this is their single biggest disadvantage. Assuming that the engineering on the Camry hybrid is as well-sorted as it obviously is on the Prius, the vehicle itself would be well worth a look. The inability to tow is a liability in the Australian market.

All the rest is politics – and you will understand, dear reader, that I don’t want to go there, despite the fact that everyone else has. Even Barnaby Joyce, a pollie that I admire for his independence, had a go, describing them as “golf carts”. Having driven one out to Barnaby’s territory (St George), I would suggest to him that he drives one and makes up his own mind.

Of course, his comment wouldn’t have anything to do with the politics of the announcement.

*I don't know the plural of Prius.


omalley said...

Right on!

"Grendel" said...

Not sure what the plural of Prius is either but I bet the collective noun could be "an eco of Prius's"

Cunnamulla? I used to work out there before I came even further west until there was nothing but ocean again.

How's the old place doing these days?

1735099 said...

Interesting place - I get out there once per term. What amazes me about Cunnamulla is the check-by-jowl nature of the centre of a township set in limitless space.
There are lots of Murris, and the the school runs some interesting programs with them.

"Grendel" said...

Yeah - I remember some fierce council debates that arose whenever anyone wanted to 'develop' anything - the levee bank is now a defacto town planning limit I think. There was one or two people building outside it when I left and they were considered to be radicals.

I worked quite closely with the Murri community - it was always interesting but I loved my time out there.

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