It was so simple years ago. Everybody knew what was what. A carpenter carried out woodwork, plumbers looked after leaking pipes, and an electrician did, well yes, you’ve guessed it, electrical work on your house or business premises.
On a more expensive level, an accountant did your bookkeeping, a doctor looked after your health, an engineer fixed your roads or machinery and an architect designed your house.
Everything was clearly demarcated. This ran to our transport as well. A car carried people. A truck carried things. A bicycle conveyed yourself and maybe herself if she’d be okay taking the bar home from the dance.
However, little by little, the lines blurred and a mere doctor wasn’t the business anymore – if your head hurt, you needed a neurologist. If you’d pains in your chest, best get to a cardiologist. Want some security for your area/business/premises/pub, etc.? Then bypass the local bobby and hire your own ‘policemen’ at an hourly rate. Same for shoplifters: you can simply hire your own store ‘detective’.
It all gets a bit complicated at times, and transport is no exception.
We don’t just buy a car anymore. No, it has to be some sort of specialist car for specialist jobs: MPVs for moving people and SUVs for having some fun while being a touch handy about town. A city car for the …… ah, city! A GT (Gran Turismo) for tearing about the continent and a supermini, if you want a mini with pretensions above its station.
I have a bike in my shed that is a sort of hybrid – I can do some light off-road stuff while also using it to cycle into town most days. Speaking of which, the Motormouth family has just taken possession of another hybrid, in the form of a Toyota Yaris.
Toyota has taken up the baton for hybrid technology and now supplies the bulk of these vehicles in Ireland, selling some 1,300 petrol hybrids to date this year. Interestingly, that represents a 128% increase in sales of this type compared to last year.
The majority of these sales are of the new C-SUV and C-HR, which launched in Ireland in November, with the Auris, Yaris and Rav 4 making up the rest.
Our own Yaris hybrid has all the usual bells and whistles that we have come to expect. It has an automatic CVT gearbox, electric motor operating seamlessly with the 1.5l petrol engine (combining to produce 98BHP), cruise control, eco gauge to keep the car economical and regenerating brakes and a ‘B’ gear on its auto box to assist in descending long hills to recoup energy back into the batteries.
Ah, but what’s it like to drive I hear you ask? Well, surprisingly enough, it’s not bad. Having come from a long line of diesel cars, we thought we’d miss the torque and the ability to pull from low gears. However, the auto box deals with this by being in the right ‘gear’ all the time and the combination of the 1.5 petrol engine with the 45kW (59bhp) electric motor that draws its power from a 0.9kWh nickel metal-hydride battery provides enough grunt to push on if required.
However, ‘pushing on’ is not natural ground for a hybrid, or even a Yaris. Our particular one was bought with short city type journeys in mind. Journeys of about three to seven miles one way are the raison d’être of this car. Over and back to UL, into the Milk Market on a Saturday morning, etc. Mind you, a recent long journey to collect this car, with big city driving and lots of motorway miles resulted in a combined return of 56.1 MPG. With a somewhat more gentle right foot, we confidentially expect to better this.
Its battery is the non-charging type, being replenished from the use of the car’s petrol engine. Most of the short journeys are using just the battery power so there is a saving on petrol costs there. With petrol being, on average, ten cents a litre more expensive than diesel, it remains to be seen if the savings offset the cost of purchase.
More of this in later columns and more of the little hybrid’s driving character as we discover what it’s really like.