Archive for toyota prius

A blight on God’s clean Earth #5 – Toyota Prius

Posted in A blight on God's clean Earth with tags , on 07/01/2011 by Alexander

“He’s badmouthing a Prius, is he? He must be some petrolhead, Clarkson-loving Mother Earth-hater!” Nay, my dear brethren, nothing could be further from the truth. I think hybrids are an excellent idea. First, from the eco-viewpoint, with less emissions and consumption, and second from the personal economics perspective, where you don’t have to dish out so much cash at the pump. And I’d have thought so-called “petrolheads” would’ve loved the idea. A piddly-little engine that gets lots of extra power from some electric motors, like the Fisker Karma, that sports 450bhp, goes like the clappers, yet has a consumption of 2.4l per 100km (100mpg). It’s one of those win-win situations where everyone comes away happy.

So what’s wrong with the Prius? I’ve said this before, but the Prius is what comes to mind of the average driver when mentioning the words “hybrid car”. It’s the poster child of one of the most significant leaps of car technology. And what a tremendously ugly, off-putting poster child it is. I’ll put it this way: if it were a conventionally-powered ICE car, would you buy it? It’s horribly proportioned, with a huge backside and a too-sloped bonnet, and the wheels look like they’re off a caravan because they’re so small in relation to the car.

And this is a problem inherent to nearly all early hybrids. The Japanese car-manufacturers responsible for these must’ve thought that making a hybrid look pleasingly normal wasn’t the right way of going about things. “No,” they probably said. “It must look like it’s out of an early 90’s sci-fi comic book! It must look different!” This actually could’ve gone rather well, had it been anywhere else. It might have come out looking like a cool concept car, like an Audi Avus or a Citroen Activa II. But being Japan, where local aesthetic taste gave us visual horrors such as the Power Rangers, Dragonball, Doraemon, Bakugan and countless samurai-inspired armoured and robot heroes, the end result was the usual codswallop the rest of the world finds embarrassingly, awkwardly, cringe-worthy bilge.

Fortunately, the rest of the world has picked up on hybrids, making cool stuff like the aforementioned Karma or BMW EfficientDynamics-thing. Hopefully it will mark the shift from arse-ugly crates-on-wheels to proper-looking road cars.

Long live the hybrid. Death to the Prius.

Amazing! Upcoming Peugeots may not be crap

Posted in Crap cars, Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25/11/2009 by Alexander


After slagging off Peugeot, and especially the 3008 quite ruthlessly, here’s an entry to prove I’m not a mindless Peugeot hater. The above image came from here, and the fanfair is grand.

Take a look at Peugeot’s new baby coupé! Auto Express has learned that the Lion is getting ready to roar into the small sports car market with this sensational 2+2, which boasts Ferrari style at an affordable price tag.

Phwoar! A insy-bitsy Ferrari! I’m being a little sarky, but let’s be honest: it looks good. Gone are the ridiculous Peugeot grills and exaggeratedly swept-back headlamps. This seems promising! Let’s read on:

Small coupés are big news! You don’t need big engines and a huge price tag to have fun, which is why pint-sized sports cars are making a comeback.

And we’re then treated to a list of future coupés that fill the above criteria, which stupidly include a MINI Coupé (a stupid concept, since the MINI is already coupé-ish, and if you look at the pictures it resembles a MINI that’s previously had cartload of bricks tipped on it) and a Toyota Prius Coupé (?!?!?? I thought a criterion was it had to be fun and pint-sized? How can a bloated, soulless object like a Prius ever be either?).

But is the news of this Peugeot coupé too good to be true? Yes. Sifting through the comments, an interesting datum popped up. The Hyundai Veloster Coupé concept looks suspiciously similar. In fact, it’s obvious this Peugeot coupé was Photoshopped from the Hyundai, which gives us two possibilities; either Peugeot is teaming up with Hyundai to give us a common platform car; or the most certain, AutoExpress has been duped. Besides, after the announcement of the 308 RC Z, it would be stupid for Peugeot to compete with itself before the 308 RC Z was even available.

But fear not! If you, for some unfathomable, irrational, bile-swelling reason have a fancy for the Lion brand, Peugeot have decided to make a car that, at first glance doesn’t completely suck.

Dubbed the 508, it marks the return of the “5” at the beginning of the designation, and harks back to my personal Peugeot favourite, the 504. It’s based on the RC HyMotion 4 concept of 2008, which shows Peugeot at least manages to make good use of its nicer concepts, unlike, say, Citroën, who ignore the C-Airplay. But I digress. This 508 car looks crackingly good, and not just for a Peugeot. It reminds me of an old Bugatti four door saloon, the EB112, which never saw the light of day. It has the same sort of profile and fundamental concept.

In conclusion, it’s a sign that upcoming Peugeots may not be dreary crap after all.

Alt Fuel #1 – Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids

Posted in Alt-Fuel, Green Tech with tags , , , , , on 18/07/2009 by Alexander

Everyone harps on about the Toyota Prius as the hybrid (though the Honda Insight is stealing some of its thunder), though there’s more and more choice of alternatives as time goes by. And thank God for that.

Pros:
– Very economical and very autonomous. Or so they say.
– Quickly evolving and becoming more and more widespread.
– With the arrival of plug-in hybrids, there are a whopping three possible sources of power for the car: the local power grid; the petrol pump; the car’s own motion. And that’s brilliant.

Cons:
– The current ambassador of hybrids is the Toyota Prius. I say “Hybrid” and your mind pictures a Prius. This is very bad. The Prius is stupidly ugly (by far, one of the ugliest cars ever on the road), unsexy, and undesirable. If it was conventionally-fuelled, you’d be embarrassed to drive one and people will point and laugh at such a ridiculous-looking car. Honda’s hybrid and those Lexus cars are just as bad and still blandly awful in that unavoidable Japanese way.
– If not driven properly, a hybrid can be as consuming and pollutant as any other normal non-hybrid. Then again, this is true of absolutely any car, as idiot portuguese drivers like to demonstrate every day, so this point is a bit moot.
– Still a tad expensive for what you get, though let’s face it, you’ll probably compensate in fuel savings in no time, so another moot point.
– Autonomy can be improved but only with modding and tuning.
– No more home repairs. You can change the oil and the sparkplugs yourself, but anything electrical and it’s off to the brand garage.
– A shiny brand new hybrid is expensive, as I’ve said. But couple that to the fact people will probably be throwing away their old petrol cars en masse. It doesn’t matter how many scrappage incentive programmes you try, there are lots of non-recyclable components to cars that will accumulate massively if there are too many cars being junked.

Intro
Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids
Plug-In Electric Vehicles
Biodiesel, bioethanol and such
Carbon-neutral Algae-based fuels
Hydrogen fuel cells
LPG
Hybrid Retrofitting
Petrol/Diesel