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Australia’s first production electric vehicle

I would like to correct your comments regarding the electric bike in the May 2008 edition. In 1979, a company called "Silent Power" built Australia’s first production electric vehicle.

They were fully compliant road registered in both NSW and Qld. A total of 12 were produced and sold to various authorities for evaluation. Only one was ever sold to the public, to a person on the Gold Coast.

They were based on a Suzuki Carry Van and ran on 96V with 190Ah batteries. The range was 80km and top speed was 80km/h.

Kevin Hill,
Kurnell, NSW.

Prius is highly fuel-efficient

There seems to be a misconception in the community that the Prius and other hybrids are only fuel-efficient on short trips, such as around town. Nothing could be further from the case.

Paul Smith of Port Macquarie in his letter headed "Comment on Prius Battery Life" (SILICON CHIP, May 2008) suggests that "the extra weight of the Prius [because of its battery] means that when it is used for any purpose other than city driving, it will not achieve better mileage than many conventional petrol vehicles".

Having owned and driven a Prius since August 2005 and kept a record of my fuel consumption, I can assure him that he is mistaken. Around Sydney my car achieves between 5.2 and 5.6l/100km but out on the open road fuel economy improves considerably.

On the run from Sydney to Port Macquarie, a journey I take frequently, my Prius achieves 4.6-4.7l/100km and from Port Macquarie to Lismore it gets even better, between 4.5 and 4.6l/100km. That is travelling at or just below the legal speed limit in each case. I haven’t come across any other petrol-engined car of equivalent size or weight that can get anywhere near those figures; most use 50% to 100% more fuel.

The Prius computer manages the battery level brilliantly. I have rarely seen the battery full and never empty. It balances the energy source so that when the battery is approaching full it makes the electric motor do more work and the engine less, and vice versa when the battery gets low.

So far my fuel consumption has been remarkably consistent which suggests that the battery, after three years, is still in excellent condition and showing no sign of ageing. No doubt the new model Prius battery has an even greater capacity and longer life than mine.

Hugh Buckle,
East Ryde, NSW.

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