PRIUS JOINS HAMPSHIRE POLICE

A Toyota Prius has gone into service as an unmarked front-line police patrol car with Hampshire Constabulary, a police force with an outstanding track record in the awareness of environmental issues. Hampshire’s purchase of the petrol-electric hybrid vehicle is the latest in a continuing programme of evaluations within its 800-vehicle fleet.

The fleet, which covers some 14.5 million miles per year, has an annual fuel budget of nearly £1.3 million. “Hampshire Police is delighted to be working in partnership with Toyota to evaluate this state-of-the-art car,” says Fleet Manager John Bradley, who is based at the force’s transport HQ in Winchester.

Mr Bradley says that with best value in mind it is his responsibility “to ensure that we evaluate the feasibility of new technologies, which could ultimately reduce both fuel costs and harmful emissions, while not impairing our front-line policing delivery to the public.”

The potential of the new technology built into the Prius will be subjected to close scrutiny, using the force’s sophisticated Tranman fleet-management computer system. “We’ll operate the Prius using IT data to look at things like fuel costs and CO2 readings, and benchmark it against other models,” says John Bradley. “We’ll be building up a picture of the Prius in comparison to our current core fleet vehicles and will be able to monitor its environmental impact.”

A range of other key issues relating to the operation of the Toyota Prius in a police environment will also come under the spotlight, in particular ease of servicing, manufacturer’s parts and service support and whole-life costs, including residual values at disposal, and internal ergonomics with regard to fitting future police equipment.

Hampshire Constabulary has won a number of awards for its environmental policies, including the Winchester City Green Fleet award in 1999 and Fleet News’ Highly Commended award in the same year. It runs 33 LPG-powered cars.

The force intends to maintain the vehicle in house, but will be using local Toyota dealer Marshall Rolfe Southampton to carry out specialist repairs with regard to this new technology.

Since the Toyota Prius went on sale in the UK last autumn, more than 500 have taken to the roads with fleets including Northern Ireland Electricity, Panasonic and the RSPCA. The car is currently being evaluated by organisations ranging from the Department of Works & Pensions to catering giant Sodexho. Worldwide more than 50,000 have been sold, with the biggest fleet transaction the recent sale of 300 vehicles to the city and state of New York.

The 1.5-litre VVT-i petrol-engined Prius is driven by a 30kW electric motor at speeds below 10mph, and can return more than 60mpg even around town. With the lowest CO2 emissions at only 114g/km, it already meets European emission standards due to come into force in 2005.

ENDS

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