As you may have spotted, I’m not much of a fan of cars. Oh sure, modern western society relies on them, but far too much. But even in my version of suburban utopia, they’d be there by neccessity for some people and some trips.
So given they’ll always be around, it makes sense for them to be as economical as possible. To leave the lightest footprint possible.
The poster-child for the new breed of hybrid cars is the Toyota Prius. A friend just got one (company car) and I got to take it for a quick drive this morning. It seemed surprisingly roomy inside given its size, which is probably down to the much reduced space taken by the mechanics. And while some have complained about the Prius’s performance, I found it pretty zoomy, better than my aging 15-year-old Magna, and probably on par with most newer “non-high-performance” vehicles.
(“High performance” seems like a misnomer, when they use so much more fuel to get from A to B. I guess they’re really good at producing noise and pollution; that’s what makes them “high performance”.)
The controls are a bit freaky: key that works like an access card; a computer-like power button; a handbrake that’s operated by your foot; a joystick-like gearstick (but no Fire button, alas). There’s various touch-screens and digital read-outs to control it all.
How quiet it is when you’re not moving is freakily-quiet, too. That’s because it doesn’t bother wasting energy standing still, unlike the rest of the cars on the road.
And it’s got a cool distinctive design that says “Hey all you petrol slurpers! Suffer in your jocks paying $60 to fill your tank! Behold, my Prius!”
I really enjoyed the short spin. I reckon it’s a great idea for anybody who does the bulk of their driving in the city, especially in heavy traffic. Cars like this don’t help with congestion, but they do go some way to reducing emissions.
And then I took my own car to the petrol station. And paid $60 to fill up the tank.
“So why don’t you get one, Daniel?” you might ask. “Since you’re so into pushing sustainable transport.”
The cost, that’s why. These things cost $37K or more new. Given how little driving I do, I can’t justify or afford it.
Give it 5 or 10 years, when the technology’s even more efficient, and cheap (and my own car starts to fall apart) and it may be the way to go.
Then again, I may be getting around exclusively by bicycle, foot and Metcard by then.