Toyota Prius is truly a wonder machine. Sometime earlier, happened to take a short trip in that. The experience is just amazing, specially if you listen to know its features while you are traveling in it.
In case, you have done rides in cars thats available in India, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. It has a large color LCD display panel, which shows up average mileages & outside temperature, a virtual keypad to make calls via bluetooth, touch controls for in-car-entertainment, a GPS console & a screen for the camera kept to the back of the car, helps while parking. But, this is just an eye-candy.
The striking distinction from other cars is that it runs on hybrid technology, ie uses both gasoline & electricity to offer longer distances of travel for the same amount of fuel. More astonishing is to know that one need not plug-it-in to a power-outlet or recharge the batteries for its electricity needs. It has an internal power plant to generate its own electricity which ultimately runs the car. The poweplant is run during braking (Regenerative braking) & the generated electricity is stored in the batteries. This electricity is converted back to mechanical energy by the electric motor during rides along slopes where the required torque is significantly lower. An onboard computer manages this job.
Not just this, but 11 other techniques to make is more fuel efficient. Read on here. One flexibility thats missing in such a car is the ability to plug-it on your domestic power outlets to fuel your car. This makes it purely an electric toy, with the name Hybrid plug-ins.
RechargeIT is a geeky initiative from Google to plug a plug-in-hybrid into the power-grid of other similar vehicles. Thereby your neighbour’s car can power-up your car thro’ the grid & the grid can itself be fed with alternative-power sources such as a Wind mill or a Solar farm. Google’s fleet uses a bunch of Priuses, see one of them here.
The fuel efficiency of such plug-ins is about 29.076776750330250990752972258917 kilometers per litre of gasoline. Such a precision is to stress the fact that even a fraction can save a million litres.
All for good. When are these motorcycles (I mean the power packed ones) are gonna go electric or rather hybrid? Time to wait. :)