Up in north Queensland a Cairns-based Toyota Prius taxi has recently clocked up 550,000 kilometres, the highest kilometres recorded for an Australia delivered Prius to date.
According to black and white taxis (the car's owner), in the 3 years of service the Prius has cost half the fuel and maintenance outlay compared to other conventionally-powered taxis in the fleet.
So far there are 32 Prius taxis in Cairns with another eight already in order. Each Prius averages around 200,000km per annum.
"We've have had almost three years great service from it, we obviously track our costs very closely and our reports show the Prius consumes half the petrol of other vehicles in our fleet and also half the service costs - it is quite amazing." Taxi operator Graham Boundy, who owns Black and White Taxis in Cairns, said.
What about the battery life you ask? How does a Prius manage after 550,000km on its original battery? Not that badly! The car in question had a battery that recorded a "low voltage reading" which led to its replacement at 500,000km, Toyota says another Prius taxi also had its battery replaced after 350,000km. These are the only two Prius cars in Australia to have had a battery replacement to date.
500,000km? 300,000km? Both big numbers, when an average Australian car only travels 15,000km/year. We do, however, have to question the affect of time on the battery as well. Something not considered in this case.
"When you consider that the average car in Australia travels approximately 15,000km per year, the 350,000km Prius has crammed over 23 years of average driving into a couple of years, and the 550,000km Prius has fitted in 36 years into three years, which is astonishing." said Vic Johnston, Toyota's manager of hybrid sales and fleet strategy.
Love it or hate it, the more familiar the general population become with hybrid cars, the more the demand increases. Toyota is currently having supply issues in overseas markets delivering an unprecedented number of Prius cars to customers.
"When you consider that the Prius taxis in Cairns are generating half the fuel and service costs of other vehicles in their fleets, the Prius is significantly cheaper in whole-of-life costs. That's why the taxi fleets use them, and continue to order them - they are simply less expensive to run and maintain than conventional vehicles in their fleet." Johnston said.
The Prius has also won the honour of the cheapest hybrid car to run according to the federal government's Green Vehicle Guide. On average Prius owners should expect to pay no more than $990 in fuel each year.
Do hybrid taxis make sense to you?