HYBRIDS ON DIRT?

Car (South Africa) - - TECH -

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.”

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