Feel Like Taking Direct Action?

11 September 2000

Want to Pay Half the Tax? It’s Simple! Drive a Prius

Like croissants and bottled water, it seems French-style direct action has reached the UK. But you don’t need to blockade an oil refinery or jam up the A1 to pay less for fuel. Just drive the new Toyota Prius.

The world’s first petrol-electric hybrid car, the Toyota Prius, consumes around half the fuel of a conventional family car in towns and cites. With an official Urban fuel consumption figure of 61.4mpg the Prius makes other family saloons look like gas guzzlers. The best selling Ford Focus 1.6i can only manage 25.9mpg and the even diesel VW Bora 1.9TDi is nowhere near with 31mpg. And both will cost more to buy for models with the same level of specification as Prius.

Pay Less Tax

Not only does the Prius driver have the quiet satisfaction of handing over less fuel duty to the Chancellor, under the imminent company car tax rules, the Prius driver will save even more. That’s because the new tax will be based on CO2 emissions. At just 114g/km the Prius beats all other similarly sized cars (see attached comparison chart). In fact, Prius is so clean it already meets the 2005 emissions regulations.

Even the road tax will be less. The new Vehicle Excise Duty (Road Tax) system to be introduced in March 2001 is also based on CO2 emissions and there will be a discount for hybrid vehicles. This will mean that VED payable on a Prius would be £90 per year compared to £140 for an ordinary petrol driven car.

A Car That Charges Itself, Not You

Prius can run on either its highly efficient, low emissions 1.5-litre petrol engine, its electric motor, or a combination of both. The ratio of power provided by each system is constantly monitored electronically, depending on speed and load, to keep the car in its most efficient operating mode.

The advanced technology means Prius is a genuine hybrid car that can run on electric power alone – not a petrol engine assisted by an electric motor. Under certain driving conditions the Prius petrol engine shuts down completely and the electric motor takes over.

As a result, in many high-density traffic situations, Prius is totally emissions-free. It is the only car on the market that can offer this major environmental benefit.

Most amazing of all is that the battery does not need to be plugged in to charge as the car charges itself using the petrol engine and recovered energy from braking while you’re driving.

Now In The UK

A big hit since it was first launched in Japan in 1997, Prius comes to the UK at a time when there has never been more demand for a way to reduce the price of motoring. It will be available from 17 October.

Not content with having the world’s most environmentally friendly family car, Toyota has also set up a nationwide network of special dealers, called Hybrid Technology Centres, to sell and service the car. These will have specially trained staff and must meet higher environmental standards in the running of their businesses. This means Prius buyers know that everything about Prius has as little environmental impact as possible.

Clean Car, Clear Conscience, and No Worries

To remove worries about reliability or resale values, Toyota is offering a five-year warranty – a first for the UK – and private leasing. A typical three-year lease means you can drive a Prius and have all the servicing and maintenance taken care of for a fixed monthly fee of less than £400, leaving any risk on future used values to Toyota. The company’s confidence is based on three years of real customer experience in Japan. It knows the car is reliable – it is a Toyota after all – and it expects demand to outstrip the 2,000 cars per year it will import.

Another ‘first’ for Prius sees Toyota GB committing to handle the recycling of all Prius at the end of their useful life. This will ensure that from manufacture – Toyota has the cleanest car manufacturing processes in the world – through sales, service, daily use to recycling, the Prius sets out the path for the future of the car.

Already A Winner

The significance of Prius has already been recognised with many awards. It won the Japanese Car of the Year in 1998 as well as a special Car of the Double Decade award. It has also received praise in the UK:

  • 1998 IBCAM – Auto Design Award
  • 1998 AA Awards – Environmental Commitment
  • 1999 Royal Society – Esso Energy Award
  • 1999 International Engine of the Year – Best Eco-engine
  • 2000 Fleet News – Special Car Award
  • 2000 Fleet World Honour’s – Technical Innovation Award

A Practical, Well Equipped Family Car

Prius is no stripped out economy special. It is a full sized family car capable of carrying five with all their luggage. Even without the fuel economy benefits of the hybrid drive system, Prius competes directly with ordinary saloons in size and value.

Included in the price of £16,495 you get not only the world’s most advanced automotive technology under the bonnet, but all the creature comforts such as air conditioning, ABS, CD/radio/cassette, alloy wheels, electric windows and metallic paint. In fact Prius has so much equipment as standard that an equivalently specified Ford Focus Ghia 1.6i would cost £17,900 (£15,000 plus £3,400 worth of extras – see following table).

Specification – Prius versus Competitors

(All saloon automatic unless otherwise stated)



1.5 VVT-i



Insight 3dr

1.0 VTEC




A160 Elegance



1.6i Ghia



1.9 SE TDi


406 (man)

2.0 HDi LX

110 bhp








CD player

X (£170)

X (£125)

X (£250)

X (£170)

Twin airbags


v(£500 **)

5 seats (2 front, 3 rear)


5 x 3 point seat belts


X (£50)

X (£50)

ISO-FIX child safety system





Alloy wheels

√ (14″)

X (£500)

√ (16″)

X (£150)

Standard metallic paint

X (£250)

X (£320)

X (included with alloy wheels)

X (£240)

X (£250)

Rear spoiler

X (£100)

X (£100)

X (£100)

X (£100)

X (£100)

Remote locking

Double locking

X (£50)

X (£50)

X (£50)


Air conditioning

Front electric windows

Rear electric windows


X (£1500***)

X (£150)

Outside temperature gauge

X (£50)

X (£50)

60/40 split rear seat back


OTR Price







Specification Adjustment







Adjusted Price







% +/- v Prius







Combined fuel consumption (mpg)







Urban fuel consumption (mpg)







Extra urban fuel consumption (mpg)







CO2 Emissions (g/km)







* Vauxhall offer a ‘Vauxhall-Fix’ child restraint system as a no-cost option

** ABS on Focus part of Reflex Pack, which includes Electronic traction Control and Side Airbags

*** Rear electric windows in Luxury Pack, which also includes leather seat upholstery, allow £140 for rear electric windows.

All option prices taken from manufacturers’ recommended retail price taken from model range price lists unless in italics (JATO sector averages).


  • Fully practical, well equipped and refined family car – no compromises for the driver.
  • World’s first mass production hybrid vehicle.
  • Available in the UK from British International Motor Show (17 October).
  • £16,495, but vast majority of drivers will lease – unique leasing plan for private drivers.
  • Improved ride and handling to meet European tastes.
  • Toyota GB first company to commit to handle vehicle recycling at end of car life to ensure minimum environmental impact.
  • Toyota predicts around 2,000 registrations per year in the UK.
  • Nationwide network of Hybrid Technology Centres with specially trained staff to handle sales and service. All meet higher environmental standards to reassure buyers of Toyota’s all encompassing commitment to minimising environmental impact.
  • Already sold in excess of 40,000 units since 1997 in Japan.
  • Around 2,000 units per year expected for UK – 75% fleet.
  • First new car to offer a comprehensive 5-year warranty and roadside assistance package as standard. Removes any worries on new technology reliability.
  • New battery is more powerful, 60% smaller and 30% lighter.
  • Battery designed to last the lifetime of the car.

Emissions and Consumption Highlights

  • Low CO2 emissions (114g/km) boosts fleet appeal due to imminent CO2 based taxation.
  •  61.4mpg on Urban cycle, 57.6 on the Combined cycle.
  •  Prius already meets EU Step 4 emissions legislation not in force until 2005.
  •  Up to 64% better urban fuel economy versus Lower Medium sector automatic competitors (family, practical cars etc).
  •  Up to 47% better combined fuel economy versus Lower Medium sector automatic competitors (family, practical cars etc).
  •  Up to 1000% better CO emissions versus Lower Medium sector automatic competitors (family, practical cars etc).
  •  Up to 900% better HC/NOX emissions versus Lower Medium sector automatic competitors (family, practical cars etc).
  •  Up to 90% better on (combined) CO2 emissions versus Lower Medium sector automatic competitors (family, practical cars etc).


Download this release as a PDF below

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