OK. The Prius. It’s not going to solve global warming on it’s own. But it is a step.
A while ago I was moved by a speech by Bishop David Walker of Dudley, at General Synod, on climate change and Shrink the Footprint. He said that he and his wife had made a decision to: fly as little as possible, use public transport wherever possible, and on the occasions they had to use a car, to drive at no more than 56 miles/hour to maximise the efficiency of the engine.
When last year my then 17 & 16 year-old daughters said ‘Dad, when will you get a car that is younger than us?’ of my 18 year-old VW Passat; I started thinking about what sort of vehicle I should change to – or whether to get one at all. After looking around for a bit, I settled on a white 2nd generation Toyota Prius Spirit. It has a hybrid petrol-electric drive system.
This particular one, despite huge mileage on the clock, is in very good condition, and drives brilliantly. The hybrid drive, and a display giving constant feedback of fuel consumption, can help adjust the driving style. Warmer weather makes a difference too. But the single most significant thing that helps fuel economy, is reducing the speed you drive at.
On a recent trip, I was able to settle for a steady 60mph on the cruise control, tweaking it up a bit down the hills, and down a bit up the hills. After over 300 miles, the average fuel consumption was a stonking 69.7 MPG. There is a thought between the knowledgeable Prius geeks that the display possibly slightly over-states the MPG, but only minimally.
The photo above shows the Prius fuel consumption display. The bar-graph shows average MPG achieved in 5 minute segments. As the car was stationary whilst taking the photo (!) the final column is showing zero, but in movement shows the current MPG in real time. The stats at the bottom show the miles travelled since last fuel tank refill; and the average total MPG over that tank-full so far.
Jeremy Clarkson may be able to take the mickey out of the Prius in a rather unfair test (I would love to have seen a reciprocal test, driving both vehicles as a Prius is designed to be driven, and compare the fuel consumption then too…), but for a car of it’s size and class, that is quite impressive.