A Toyota Prius petrol-electric hybrid car is taking part in a one-month trial as part of Wiltshire County Council's initiative to make its staff travel more environmentally friendly starting this month.
The council has a pool of five cars, used mainly by officers attending meetings at various locations around the county. A dual-fuel Prius has been selected to take part in the evaluation during January 2003, alongside a Toyota Corolla hatchback diesel and a Yaris 1.0 litre petrol car. Reports on their performance and economy will be considered in deciding on future composition of the pool.
Wiltshire County Council's Chief Executive Dr Keith Robinson and chief officers were given a sneak preview of the Toyota Prius when the council introduced the first stage of its Green Travel Plan in November. This initiative involves a computerised car-sharing project for staff based at County Hall in Trowbridge, designed to encourage them to pool resources and cut fuel costs.
Basing the Green Travel Plan on feedback from a staff survey, the council is also introducing a range of facilities to encourage staff to use their cars less, including car-sharing initiatives, cycling, walking and public transport incentives.
John Down, Wiltshire County Council's development consultant, who has been managing the project, said: "We want to get the views of our staff on the trial vehicles. If they need to travel to a business meeting and if no suitable public transport is available, we want them to try out one of these new low-emission pool cars.
"The monitoring of the trial will include miles driven, frequency, and ease of use for staff using the pool-car system. If the pilot is successful, in future we hope to see a permanent fleet of green vehicles for Wiltshire County Council staff to hire.
The Toyota Prius has a 1.5 litre VVT-i petrol engine which is overridden by 30kW electric motor when the car's speed drops below 10mph. This makes it particularly economical in traffic, and its official consumption figure around town is 61.4mpg. CO2 emissions at 114g are about half those of comparable petrol-engined cars - and half the maximum levels stipulated under Euro IV, effective from 2005. The vehicle carries five people in comfort and offers 390 litres of bootspace.
The Toyota Corolla hatchback uses the latest technology in its two 2.0 litre turbocharged D-4D direct-injection diesel engines to maximise fuel economy while keeping emissions, noise and vibration to a minimum. In 89bhp form it can achieve almost 50mpg on the combined cycle.Published 9 January 2003