Panasonic Toyota: The Fast And The Fuel Saving

11 October 2005

Panasonic not only has its name on Toyota’s Formula 1 racing cars, but now its staff are taking notice of a rather less thirsty Toyota – the petrol-electric Prius. The first two cars have joined Panasonic UK’s 300-strong user-chooser car fleet, and another is on order.

The Bracknell-based company, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of electronics products with an annual turnover of more than £700m, is title sponsor of the Panasonic Toyota Formula 1 Team.

The Panasonic Toyota TF105 boasts a 3.0-litre V10 petrol engine that puts out more than 900bhp at 19,000rpm – while the 1.5-litre, four-cylinder Prius petrol engine is supplemented by an electric motor at low speeds to offer a more discreet 76bhp at 5,000rpm.

The Prius may weigh more than twice as much as the TF105 but it scores heavily on fuel economy – it achieves 65.7mpg on the combined cycle, whereas the TF105 in action is lucky to manage 4mpg. The Prius also wins on emissions producing only 104g/km.

“After driving the Prius for nearly a month, it’s the best car I’ve ever had,” says one of Panasonic’s petrol-electric converts. “The hybrid engine is smooth and quiet, the automatic gearbox makes things very easy, and the steering is precise and responsive. The plethora of gadgets – satnav, Bluetooth, voice control, engine info – are great fun and incredibly useful.

“I had read that the engine information display turns economical driving into a kind of computer game and it’s true. I find that I’m competing with myself to use less and less petrol – which usually means safer driving – by slowing down and planning ahead.”

He sums up the Prius as “by far the best option in terms of fuel economy, CO2 and other emissions,” adding that tax bracket, amount spent on private mileage and congestion-charge exemption would contribute to his financial savings.

Toyota Prius is available across all Panasonic employment grades, and is appealing to engineers, trainers and senior managers alike. The cars are obtained on contract hire and will join a number of Toyota Avensis and Corolla models already on the fleet.

“Prius has had a lot of publicity, it’s very popular in the States and I think people have noticed that,” says Panasonic’s Fleet Manager Sue Fuhr. “It’s much more spacious and attractively specced than we originally expected.

“Obviously it’s good to have an environmentally friendly car and the congestion-charge exemption is a bonus. We were impressed with its performance and think its quietness will be good for drivers’ well-being, particularly in London.

“People were very impressed when they drove the demo cars, and Prius is a very economical vehicle from the tax perspective – which is going to make it increasingly attractive,” adds Sue. “It’s significant that we have another order going through so quickly, and I’m expecting the cars already here to stir up further interest.”


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Panasonic Toyota: The Fast And The Fuel Saving


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