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Monday, January 16, 2006

Lord Mayor urged to 'go hybrid'

Lord Mayor urged to 'go hybrid'

HOBART Lord Mayor Rob Valentine has been urged to follow the lead of other civic leaders in swapping his limousine for a hybrid car.

Greens Hobart alderman Philip Cocker said Ald Valentine should do as Parramatta's former lord mayor Julia Finn did in 2004 -- trading in Parramatta's then-mayoral car, a Holden Caprice, for a Toyota Prius hybrid car.

The Prius has both petrol and electric motors, either of which powers the car according to conditions.

For starting and low speeds, electric power runs the car but at cruising speeds the petrol engine is energy-efficient and takes over.

"This is a question of leadership and support for the staff on council who have worked hard to identify ways of reducing greenhouse emissions for the city and to demonstrate leadership to the community on the most serious environmental issues of our time," Ald Cocker said.

Making the change from Ald Valentine's Holden Caprice would demonstrate to visitors that Hobart Council was serious about the environment.

"The only reason I can see for keeping the limousine is the feeling of luxury and prestige it brings," Ald Cocker said.

The Prius would use about a third of the petrol used by the existing limousine, and produce less than 25 per cent of greenhouse gases.

Ald Valentine said such decisions were for the council to make as the council had carriage of the car policy.

"We can also look at the whole of the council's vehicle fleet," he said.

Ald Valentine said he encouraged Ald Cocker to raise this for discussion so a staff report could be prepared and all the issues, facts and figures weighed allowing the council to make a good decision, including the type and style of "ceremonial vehicle".

"We have certainly made significant gains in greenhouse gases reduction," Ald Valentine said.

"With our commitment to Cities for Climate Protection we have achieved 70 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2010, so we are well on the way.

"This may be another way forward."

The sales manager of Hobart Toyota dealer Co-op, John McShane, said more than a dozen Prius cars were sold each year and there was a waiting list to get them.

"We sell every one we get and we haven't even got a demonstrator vehicle at the moment," Mr McShane said.

He said the Japanese-made Prius had huge world-wide demand.

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