As a connoisseur of all things automotive, I can’t help but appreciate when car brands do something in an out of the box kind of way. With so much competition in the industry, being the most creative brand in the room will easily translate as the most successful in the room as well. Coming up with the latest technology, in-vehicle innovation, and ways to make seating more comfortable are all important, but it’s the creatively-inclined endeavors that truly excite this self-pledged auto expert. With autonomous driving technology on the horizon and electric hybrid vehicles gaining traction, I can’t help but be giddy when I think about everything that awaits us in the very near future. Toyota has been on the forefront of creative new technology and innovation for quite some time. Just look at the brand’s introduction of the Prius – enough said, right? Other brands may have introduced similar models in recent years, but Toyota was the pioneer of that now-lucrative segment. The Japanese automaker is standing firmly behind its Prius model, and rather than scramble to come up with something new, Toyota is creating new ways for drivers to understand how the hybrid-electric car works.
The Toyota Prius Takes to the Track
Not a headline you thought you’d see, or one I thought I would ever write. But, here we are – me writing, and you reading. Toyota has begun what will be an annual tradition with Prius drivers from around the country. The Sonoma Raceway in the San Francisco area may be best known for hosting Nascar events, but not anymore. Rather than compete to see who is the fastest, the 2017 Toyota Prius Challenge was determined to see who was the most efficient.
As any new Prius owner knows, there is a learning curve involved with achieving maximum MPG ratings and efficiency. Toyota managed to grab 20 different teams of individuals who are familiar with this learning curve and put them in identical Prius models to see who was the most efficient. The task was simple: drive around the track as many as nine times in a 40-minute time period, and get the most miles per gallon in the process. Rather than come in first, however, the “winners” would be crowned based on their efficiency. Teams consisted of two people, one driving and one keeping track of vehicle stats from the screen of an iPad. Instead of pushing their vehicles to the limit in terms of power and speed, these teams pushed their assigned Prius to the limits of efficiency.
The crowned champion of this oddball “race” was EcoFlow, which managed to achieve 85 miles per gallon during the 40-minute crawl to the finish line. Most of the Prius competitors stayed below 20 miles per hour, which is likely the slowest pace the Sonoma Raceway has ever seen. If racetracks could talk, it would probably protest this seemingly ridiculous display of hybrid wits. At the end of the day, it seems the teams had fun and Toyota was able to demonstrate the importance of understanding how your Prius responds to your input, and how a well-executed plan can propel you into maximum efficiency figures.