Monday, July 16
VANCOUVER - The world's first Toyota Prius cab driver is sold on hybrid technology, which allows his vehicle to run on either a gasoline or electric motor, or both in tandem. Vancouver's Andrew Grant says his 2004 Prius paid for itself in less than 24 months through savings on parts, service, labour and fuel. As the highest-mileage 2004 Prius on the road, Mr. Grant's cab will be shipped back to Toyota in Japan to be stripped down for research. As the highest-mileage 2004 Prius on the road, Mr. Grant's cab will be shipped back to Toyota in Japan to be stripped down for research. Few, if any, other hybrid drivers could say the same thing, but that's due to the fact that Mr. Grant and his partner keep their Yellow Cab on the road for 22 to 24 hours a day, and average 160,000 kilometres a year. They get the posted fuel economy, or better, because the car is always operating at normal operating temperature. And because the gas motor is not running all the time, they are not wasting fuel while idling, an enormous advantage for a taxicab. Mr. Grant said the Prius burns between 10 and 15 litres of gas per 12-hour shift, compared with between 35 and 55 litres for a regular cab, depending on whether it has a four- or eight-cylinder engine. Assuming the Prius averages 15 litres and regular cabs average 40 litres, that means he and his partner are saving 50 litres a day, or 1,500 litres a month, he said in an interview. In addition, he said the vehicle costs only one-third the usual expenses on maintenance over a 24-month period because it has fewer wear-and-tear components. His current Prius recently surpassed 400,000 kilometres with no hybrid component failures. As the highest mileage 2004 model on the road, it will be shipped back to Toyota in Japan shortly to be stripped down for research, just as with the 2001 model that Mr. Grant turned to taxi duty back on Nov. 1, 2000. Mr. Grant also suffers less when gas prices climb. "Every 10 cents a litre that gas goes up, we're looking at a $1.20 to $1.50 per shift increase in fuel costs," he said. "A regular cab driver is looking at between $3.30 a shift and $5.50 a shift. That is just phenomenal."