Green Focus: Hybrid Car - Toyota Prius

Toyota first introduced its Hybrid concept car back in 1997. Since then there have been a few updated models. Now Toyota are on their third generation model. They have refined their Hybrid Synergy Drive to make it a lot more efficient and lighter. The Prius uses both a petrol engine and also an electric motor. This creates lower emissions and gives up to 50% better fuel economy. The Prius uses a 1.8 petrol engine which generates 98hp and combined with the power of the electric motor the hp goes up to 134. Fuel economy for urban driving is 116 km/g and for extras urban it is 122 km/g and the combined fuel economy is 116 km/g. The Prius has three driving modes as highlighted below:
  1. EV Mode has no emissions and is near silent. With enough charge in the battery you are able to go at speeds up to 50km/h. In this mode you do not use any fuel.
  2. Eco Mode uses the petrol engine as well as the electric motor.  The a/c is tuned so as to improve fuel economy and also the pedal response is controlled. You can also monitor how much you push on the accelerator pedal. This can help you save on the fuel consumption. In this mode the vehicle has the best fuel economy.
  3. Power mode uses the petrol engine as well as the electric motor but in this mode the accelerator response has been amplified so as to give instant power when you push it.
The Prius has a beltless configuration. Everything is driven by the electric motor. The water pump, power steering and the a/c. There is no alternator in the vehicle. Also when changing gears, it is done electrically rather than mechanically. There is a multi function display that shows fuel consumption, energy monitor and hybrid system indicator as well as giving feedback on the driving style. A new version of the Prius called the I-Tech has some additional features that are highlighted below:
  1. Solar Ventilation System. Solar panels in the roof of the car run an internal fan. This gets rid of hot air inside the car so when the car is parked the temperature inside should be closer to the temperature on the outside.
  2. Remote controlled A/C. A button on the key fob can be pressed as you get near to the car. The a/c is powered by the battery so for up to three minutes cool air will cool the cabin before you even get inside the vehicle.
If car rental companies in major cities, like Sydney do start to move their fleets to vehicles which are a hybrid or all electric like the  then this would reduce their carbon footprint as well as helping to reduce their maintenance costs for their fleets and the need to refuel their vehicles. This would also reduce the cost for car rental in Sydney.