Economical – with the truth
Toyota’s Prius isn’t as green as they’d have us believe, says Neil Lyndon
It's a reliable sign that a bandwagon is rolling full pelt when Esther Rantzen can be seen hauling herself aboard. Any suspicion that the green lobby might be losing some of its intellectual credibility will have been substantiated by the news that ER has taken delivery of her second new Toyota Prius hybrid car.
"I love its economy," gushed Esther. "It's clean, quiet and comfortable. And of course it's green!"
A talent for making questionable declarations in a tone of absolute moral certainty has always been a Rantzen characteristic. In this particular case, she may be just about half right.
When it's running at low speed on its electric motors, the Prius is undeniably quiet and clean. It is also comfortable.
But when it comes to questions of economy and greenery, the dear old thing is spouting more than her usual volume of tosh.
Toyota has done a brilliant job in selling the hybrid Prius as an aid for green-minded people who want to show the world that they are holier than thou. Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Billy Joel were among the first American stars to turn up at awards ceremonies in a 'Pious', since when Toyota has sold almost half a million of them in America.
Toyota claims that the Prius will average 57.6mpg - and so it might if it were never driven outside of congested American cities, where it runs on its electric motor. In Britain, however, no long-term test of this car has achieved an average consumption that comes close to that figure, and one reliable test returned 38.1mpg. Such figures are no better than those of many conventional petrol-engined cars the same size as the Prius, and are far worse than all equivalent diesels.
The Toyota Prius, therefore, is truly about as green as Rantzen's backside. ·
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