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Car Council's Future?

It looks like an ordinary car but it is, in fact, a hybrid car.

The Toyota 1500cc Prius is an electric car with a petrol engine. There are only two models in the country and one in Christchurch at present is being trailed by Christchurch City Council staff as part of its drive towards a sustainable city.

The Council is letting as many staff as possible drive the hybrid before any decisions are made about its use in Christchurch.

"It is really good around town. It's peppy and goes up hills easily," says Paul McNoe, the Council's Plant and Building Services Manager.

The car starts on battery power alone. It also runs on the battery when moving at slow speeds and when going down gentle slopes.

In normal driving conditions the engine takes over. Batteries supplement the engine output with extra energy for acceleration and hill climbing. Drivers do not notice the transition from engine to battery.

"It is unreal at times, too. For instance, the engine shuts down when it is not needed. This can happen at traffic lights but it starts when needed to pull away. It has a different management system," he says.

It is a spacious, four-seater, 4000-rpm engine, but no price is attached to it yet.

Further information: Paul McNoe: 371 1635 or 025 310 135.

Christchurch City Council http://www.ccc.govt.nz

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