Is there any sight more sad at 9am on a Sunday morning than the car you have loved being driven off your drive? I think not. I can honestly say that we have loved driving this car over the summer and learned alot about Hybrid technology. To be honest I didnt’ know an awful lot about how Hybrids worked and was very sceptical about the fuel savings and performance of a car that at times is running off a battery.
I really did have visions of our summer having the Ernie and his milk float on a loop in my head. But it was far from that and we had an absolute ball. In fact as the car drove off I found myself singing “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the wine and the song, like the seasons have all gone”. Actually not the most appropriate song when you remember all the lyrics but right then that line was pretty apt.
The remit for this campaign was all about understanding more about low emission vehicles and to find out if hybrids and electric vehicles fit in with family life. I can whole heartedly say that in our experience the answer is a big fat “yes they can”.
One of the myths with hybrids is that you can’t go very far. In fact friends of ours drove past our house when we were away and saw both our cars on the drive and wondered if we had taken the Toyota Prius Plug-in to France. “Don’t be silly” he said “it’s a hybrid, it won’t even get them to Portsmouth”.
So not true! Our Plug-in model of the Toyota Prius has a normal petrol engine, supported by a battery charged when it is braking or idling. So with the petrol engine you can go as far as you normally would. In fact you can go further because the mpg is so good. When the battery has been charged, fuel is conserved and the battery is used. Saving fuel. On this model there is a separate battery that is charged by plugging it in. This allows you to do 15 miles purely on the battery, without needing the fuel engine. So if you are only driving locally on short journeys, you can use that and not the main engine. And it is all done automatically. YOu dont need to worry about it.
It cost around £40 to fill the tank and we were getting around 80mpg out of it. I have worked out that my fuel bill for the school run has dropped to about £20 a week. In my 4×4 it was around £100. In my A class it is around £50. Those savings are huge. And can’t really be argued with. My school run in the morning, to school I could do on the electric charge, having charged it over night. I could do the same going to school in the afternoon. The return journeys were done with the hybrid engine.
We didnt really get to charge the plug in out and about as much as we would have liked. Charging points that are free and accessible are a bit thin on the ground. But it is getting better. British Gas kindly installed a charging point for us at home so we could obviously use that. It takes two hours to get a full charge, and costs about 30p. The car does also have an adaptor so you can charge it off a normal 3 pin plug but that is not always accessible. We didn’t try it in France as we were worried about the electrics in the house we stayed in, so we just didnt bother. We just used the hybrid engine. But if I had one of these cars I would certainly like to see more charging points about.
We do have a garden centre near us that has charging points so I did make a point of going there to buy something I have still not used, just to get my free charge!
I was worried that it would be like driving a milk float I couldnt have been more wrong. In urban traffic the car handled brilliantly and did just what I needed it too. Accelerating to get away at the lights, over taking lorries, coasting at 80mph on French motorways were all a dream. And there is something kinda ooo when you sit at the lights and the car is silent. You can’t hear the engine at all. I don’t think I will ever get to used to that.
I think we all need to do our bit for cutting emissions and this car would certainly help us to do that. I do a lot of miles each day, close to 60, and have often thought about the pollution that is creating. Driving a hybrid has allowed me to feel a little less guilty about that.
I was seriously impressed with the safety features on this car. So much so that I am going to do a separate blog post about them. Toyota were kind enough to book an afternoon at a local racing circuit so we could really see the car go through its paces, on bends at 80mph / up steep hills / braking hard etc. I may have also screamed when I just happened to overtake a Mclaren. <ahem>
There is a little video here of some of it (I am a rubbish narrator it is safe to say)
Would have to be based on would I buy one? And the answer is a resounding “YES”
I can’t see any reason why we don’t all start buying hybrids quite frankly.
My next car will definitely be a Toyota Prius Plug-in.
If you want to learn more do visit Go Ultra Low for all the info on ultra low emission vehicles and to book a test drive
We were given a Toyota Prius Plug in for use over the summer. All words, photos and other expenditure is ours.