Taxi owner Phil Michalk is happy with his new petrol/electric hybrid cab, saying it saves money and the environment.
Taxi owner Phil Michalk is happy with his new petrol/electric hybrid cab, saying it saves money and the environment. RON BURGIN

Cabbie goes green

BUNDABERG’S taxis have taken on a green tinge with the introduction of a hybrid petrol/electric car to the fleet.

Taxi owner Phil Michalk said when it came time to replace his old car, he opted for a Toyota Prius hybrid.

“It was the way to go with fuel the price it is and the need for all of us to reduce our emissions,” he said.

Mr Michalk said the hybrid put out half the emissions of a normal car.

It was also about 40% cheaper to run.

“But it’s only done 6000km so it’s a bit early to tell,” he said.

Mr Michalk said his new car had become an object of interest at the Bundaberg Cab Company.

“All the owners want to do a shift in it to see what it’s like,” he said.

He said the Prius had proved itself suitable for use as a taxi.

“At the end of 2008, there were 200 registered Prius cabs in the state,” he said.

Mr Michalk said the hybrid car had a petrol motor, an electric motor and a set of batteries.

The petrol motor powers the electric motor, which runs the car and charges the batteries.

The whole operation is controlled by an onboard computer, with no input needed from the driver.

“I’ve driven 15km with no motor,” Mr Michalk said.

The hybrid also stores energy that is not needed to power the car immediately.

“If I’m coming up to a red light I take my foot off the accelerator and the charge that is being used to power the car goes back into the batteries instead,” Mr Michalk said.

While the Prius looked compact on the outside, Mr Michalk said it was the same size inside as a Holden Commodore.

Another feature was its lack of a key.

Mr Michalk carries a small transmitter in his pocket and, as long as he is within a certain distance of the car doors, they can be opened.

If he moves away, the car doors lock automatically.



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