HYBRIDS ON DIRT?
My 2014 Auris is due for replacement and, because of the ever-rising petrol cost, I am considering a new Toyota hybrid. After a visit to our local dealer in George, I am confused by the salesman’s negative comments about hybrid vehicles. He stressed that, should the vehicle be driven on a dirt road, it had to be returned to the dealership for the dust to be removed (the same applies to mud). Will a reputable manufacturer attempt to sell a hybrid vehicle knowing it needs this kind of specialised care? AT VAN NIEKERK George We know that, with early hybrid test cars, we were asked not to drive on dirt roads. This had to do with the cooling of the batteries; if certain filters got clogged with dust, the batteries could overheat.
We asked Toyota if this was still the case and received this response from Riaan Esterhuysen, manager of product communications: “All Toyota hybrids can operate on unpaved roads periodically and there are no specific restrictions against doing so.
“The filter referred to in Mr Van Niekerk’s letter is housed in the hybrid battery air vent, which is located in the rear seat area. If a high amount of unpaved road usage is sustained, the filter may get clogged with dust and a warning message or lamp will notify the driver of such an event. In this instance, the owner’s manual provides detailed instructions on how to clean the air filter, an action which may be performed by the vehicle operator or any Toyota dealer.
“If a hybrid vehicle is driven on a flooded road, it is recommended that the vehicle be checked by a Toyota dealer as per the instructions from the owner’s manual.”