The New Sun

Hip Hybrid Car
Good for Air & Budget
Hybrid cars switch between a gasoline engine and an electric motor to create less pollution and better mileage. They are becoming all the rage, and Toyota is leading the hybrid pack with its sleek and wonderful Prius (pronounced PREE-us).

Merryl Streep has been raving about the joys of owning one, and at the Academy Awards people were offered a Prius instead of a limo. Harrison Ford was reported to have eagerly accepted. A filmmaker at the Tribeca Film Festival said that her brother drove one from Boston to Maryland and spent $8.00 on gas. Although artists and entertainers can usually afford more expensive wheels -- it costs $20,000 -- they're very excited about cutting down on air pollution. And it's fun.

The new 2004 model will be one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, providing twice as much electrical power as the previous model, and producing 90% fewer pollutants than a traditional engine. It seats five environmentally-happy people who can stretch out their legs and have plenty of room for their stuff.

Don't worry, you never have to plug it in. The batteries are charged by the gasoline engine when it's running. Additionally, it uses a technology called "regenerative braking." This means that every time you step on the break, the motor acts as a generator. It converts the kinetic energy of the car's motion into electric energy that recharges the battery -- further increasing the fuel economy.

If you're in "stealth mode" (electronic only), you can drive at low speeds without turning on the engine. This saves gas, produces less noise and is perfect for checking out your favorite neighborhood with a friend. Of course, it's important to stay cool and calm when in stealth mode, therefore, the air conditioner keeps working even when the engine is off!

Toyota sets a great example of helping people and the air they breathe, in an exciting and economical way. For more information:

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by Lese Dunton

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