TV host test drives new plug-in Toyota

Television New Zealand’s Close Up host Mark Sainsbury swapped his stylish, gas-guzzling 1963 Lincoln Continental car for a clean, silent drive in a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid Toyota Prius at the Albany campus yesterday.

The Prius is one of two Massey is leasing from Toyota as part of a three-year global field trial. Toyota Japan has released about 600 of the electric cars in key markets globally, with just three coming into New Zealand. The third is at Toyota’s National Customer Centre in Palmerston North.

The electric car can travel as an electric-only vehicle for up to 30 kilometres, reaching highway speeds of up to 100km/h. Unlike the standard Prius hybrid, the new models run on lithium-ion batteries and can be charged with normal household 240-volt power.

Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says the University is delighted to participate in the international trial of the car. “The University made a commitment in 2008 to move its vehicle fleet to cleaner and more sustainable technology and chose to do that in partnership with Toyota,” Mr Maharey says.

“One of our big goals is to act responsibly and enhance our reputation as New Zealand’s defining university by responding innovatively to environmental issues.”

Technical specifications of the car include:

* Ability to run on pure electric mode for up to 30km with Zero emissions at up to 100km/h
* Seamlessly reverts to full hybrid petrol/electric running when battery reaches appropriate level – so vehicle cannot “run out of electricity” like other Electric Vehicles
* Electric Vehicles driving range is effectively unchanged from the recently introduced 3rd generation Prius – approx 800km + of open road driving
* Total system output of 100 kW with open road performance of 2.0L + car and seating for 4/5 people + luggage
* Combined economy of 2.6L/100km and 59 g/km carbon