Sean O'Grady: Saving the planet will kill you, it seems
Tuesday 01 November 2005
But then the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has to go and spoil the good clean fun. The agency has received complaints about Priuses stalling or stopping unexpectedly at "highway speeds". In a very few cases, the clever software that turns the petrol engine off on an overrun, say, then fails to start it up again when it's needed. The good news is that the electric motor will still work and look after the power-assisted steering and braking.
The bad news is that, from my experience, I'm not sure how competently the electric motor would take one from the overtaking lane of a busy motorway at 70mph to the hard shoulder at zero mph. I've found that the electric motor won't work, on its own that is, at more than 30mph. You can coast to safety on no engine power at all - if there's nothing else on the road. My worry is being caught trying to bear left on our crazy motorways.
I phoned Toyota. I was reassured that all affected Prius drivers will be told to go to a dealer to have the software sorted out. My own Prius was unaffected.
Exemplary behaviour by the maker, you might think. Except that I am left wondering how the software on some cars can vary. And how a Toyota can go wrong. Very odd.
Otherwise, it seems to be a pretty blameless vehicle. It's been impeccably reliable in my 2,000 miles with it, never returning less than 50mpg although rarely exceeding 55mpg, despite official government figures suggesting otherwise. Other readers have told me that 60mpg-plus is perfectly possible and folk on web forums devoted to the Prius confirm that there's a lot of money to be saved there.
But am I missing the point? One reader pulled me up after my last report on the Prius by pointing out that I shouldn't just be worried about my wallet and my fuel bills and whether that justifies the premium price of a Prius. Rather, I should be looking at the transcendent issue of saving the planet. I must admit I'd never seen things like that before. From the point of view of our poor old battered Earth, hybrid cars such as the Prius, its bigger SUV brother, the Lexus 400h, and the Honda Civic IMA cannot really be beaten, (except by public transport), and whether they make you a bit better or worse off is irrelevant. Also of no consequence is whether hybrids are enjoyable to drive or attractive to look at (they aren't). It's all about the real cost of motoring, to the planet, as one reader told me. What do you Prius drivers (and other readers) think? Would you buy one?
Life & Style blogs
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...