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Ben Kraal


I caught a 2nd gen Prius taxi home from the airport the other day and it ran most of the way on the engine. 20 minutes drive at between 50 and 80 km/h is not what the Prius seems to have been designed for -- it seems to have been designed for inner city pootling about. But, as you point out, is that what cars, in general, should be for?

I'd be much more interested in seeing hybrid white vans, trucks and busses. Vehicles that actually have to come into the city.

You and Mark did a video when you had the Insight where you said that because it was exempt from the congestion charge that you drove into the City when you might otherwise have caught the tube or the bus. In some ways that's an (un)intended function of the congestion charge but in other ways it's an indicator that maybe hybrids, or at least Pruis-sized hybrids solve the wrong problem.


Totally agree Ben, and I think the success of cars like the Insight, Prius and the little EVs such as the G-Wiz in London is directly down to the fact that they're congestion charge exempt. There were numerous debates in the local press when the c-charge was introduced about whether it actually was a congestion charge - the argument being that, surely, if you were going to exempt any vehicles from the charge, then it should be ones that take up less space...

Agree also that it's a paradox of hybrids (and by virtue of their limited range - future electric cars) that they're best suited to usage on short, urban trips which we've for so long been told to avoid using cars for. It doesn't seem to be a problem many people are interested in though. Right now, the impetus is "get everyone in to electric cars", but my view would be that, once we're all driving in zero emissions vehicles, will we have really gained anything if we're still all stuck in traffic jams trying to drive in to city centres on our own, in our metal and glass boxes. I'd love to do an expansive piece of research entitled "does size matter" looking at the impact of moving to smaller personal vehicles for city usage. The thing I'm most excited about that I've seen recently for instance, in terms of the automotive world, is Renault's Twizy. I await with interest to see what impact it has.

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