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Pootling without pollutling

October 9, 2007

I think Toyota should adopt this as their tagline for the Prius, their hybrid car. That’s Prius to rhyme with “see us” not “dry us”. Or so I’m told.

Toyota Prius

The Prius is so environmentally friendly it almost makes you want to find a traffic jam to get stuck in. While the other cars have their engines idling, wasting precious irreplaceable fossil fuel while not moving at all, at the same times as belching noxious gases into the atmosphere, the Prius sits there quietly serene. Not a murmur from the internal combustion engine. Not a whiff of gas emerging from the exhaust. And when the opportunity arises to move forward a few yards, before the traffic snarls up again, the Prius glides forward like a luxury milk float, but quieter, all electrically powered and still emission free. A good traffic jam gives you the ideal opportunity to pootle without pollutling.

The Prius can also be very green when the traffic is flowing. If you are driving at say a steady 35mph along a straight flat road, and the battery is charged up, the car can maintain speed using the electric motor only. Sometimes while driving my daughter to school I find myself in exactly that situation for 2 or 3 miles at a stretch. This does wonders for the average consumption.

Not that I lose too much sleep over it. If you’re not careful, optimising consumption can become an obsession, and Toyota provide plenty of fancy displays to help you keep track of how efficiently you’re driving, and the car’s economy, on a second by second basis. It can drive you nuts. You can get on a real downer because you failed to extract at least 50 mpg since the last fill-up, or resent someone who borrowed the car and ruined your average fuel economy by driving too aggressively.

The novelty of the displays and the gadgets is thankfully wearing off now. I’ve weaned myself off economy-mania and am now just trying to drive normally without thinking about it. But when I’m stuck in a traffic jam I might still switch the car into electric mode and pootle along silently with a smirk on my face.

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