Monday, June 9, 2008

Hybrid Cars

Rudd confirms $35m Toyota hybrid deal

ABC Online, Posted 39 minutes ago
Updated 29 minutes ago

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed that Japanese car-maker Toyota will start building four-cylinder hybrid versions of its Camry model at its factory outside Melbourne.

Mr Rudd made the announcement at Toyota's global headquarters in Nagoya, Japan, alongside the company's president, Katsuaki Watanabe.

The Federal Government will allocate $35 million from its Green Car Innovation Fund to support the move, which will produce up to 10,000 of the petrol-electric cars each year from 2010.

The Victorian Government will also make a financial contribution to the project.

Mr Rudd says the Government is talking to all Australian car-makers about building more environmentally-friendly cars.

Hybrid cars 'not so green'

ABC Online, Posted 1 hour 26 minutes ago
Updated 54 minutes ago

As more Australians scramble to buy hybrid petrol/electric cars, Britain's biggest-selling auto magazine has taken a swipe at them, saying hybrids are no better for emissions than an efficient diesel or petrol-driven car.

The magazine Auto Express says none of the hybrids' advertised emissions figures were borne out in their test drives.

Auto Express road testing chief Chris Thorpe says manufacturers' claims do not necessarily match up with real day-to-day driving.

"We've recorded the economy and then calculated emissions from the economy figures so we didn't actually sort of plug the exhaust pipes in and harness all the emissions," he said.

"What we found is that the manufacturer's claims are valuable to provide a comparable figure for each car but they don't necessarily reflect what will be achieved every day."

Mr Thorpe says for those concerned about emissions, a hybrid car is not necessarily the answer.

"Hybrid cars have low emissions in the government tests, so they look very good on paper," he said.

"What we found is in reality, they are not as efficient as a good diesel engined car.

"You will use less fuel choosing an efficient diesel model, which will have correspondingly less emissions, than if you have a hybrid model, which will maybe use a bit more fuel than you expect."

Mr Thorpe says while a Toyota Prius, for example, will have zero emissions in the city, when it gets out on the open road it's a different story.

"When you are going at higher speeds, it has got a small petrol engine and it is quite a heavy car, so you end up working that engine very hard and using a lot of fuel," he said.

"I think at the moment hybrid cars aren't quite where they need to be to offer an advantage in emissions and petrol consumption compared to just an efficient standard car."

Mr Thorpe concedes that if you live and work in the city, hybrid cars make sense.

"We think that that only applies to a very, very small number of people," he said.

Based on an interview by Rafael Epstein for AM

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