Prius Watt’s the story?

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - MAIL -

With the mo­tor­ing world seem­ingly mov­ing to­wards al­ter­na­tive propul­sion like hy­brid, plug-in and elec­tric driv­e­trains, I thought it was maybe time for a mind­shift in my own mo­tor­ing buy­ing ways.

I’ve been look­ing at var­i­ous smaller hy­brid op­tions, some listed in your Buy­ing Used Guide in the Oc­to­ber is­sue. I’m a Toy­ota fan, and the Prius has been around the long­est of the lot, so it’s clearly a well-proven pack­age.

It was in­ter­est­ing to note the de­pre­ci­a­tion in value of pre-owned Prius mod­els... it must be the only Toy­ota to suf­fer from this! But then I re­alised an im­por­tant fac­tor that may have an in­flu­ence on that value: the lim­ited life of the bat­tery pack. Surely this must cost a for­tune to re­place? And that’s why older Prius cars go for a song? Her­man Man­tor, Jo­han­nes­burg You raise a valid point Her­man. With Jaguar Land Rover SA in­vest­ing R30 mil­lion in estab­lish­ing a new elec­tric charg­ing net­work in SA, it seems the main­stream ar­rival of the al­ter­na­tive propul­sion ve­hi­cle is not as far off as we may think. But back to the Prius.

The lat­est Prius model’s bat­ter­ies have a stan­dard war­ranty of eight years/195 000km. Af­ter that mark is ex­ceeded the bat­ter­ies may, of course, still last a long time, es­pe­cially if the owner has looked af­ter the ve­hi­cle with all due care.

If you do need to re­place the bat­tery though, a new pack will set you back around R27 000 (and you get an eight-year/195 000km war­ranty). This is not cheap (and ex­cludes fit­ment costs) but it is also not the price of a new car.

Al­ter­na­tively, there are lo­cal com­pa­nies that of­fer a re­pair and re­con­di­tion ser­vice for these bat­ter­ies, at less than R10 000. It also in­cludes a one-year/60 000km war­ranty – Ed.

WRONG SIDE OF THE LAW

In the Au­gust is­sue we featured a let­ter from a reader, say­ing that we were in the wrong for pub­lish­ing the story of the Air­cooled VW SA club scal­ing Sani Pass in 2WD ve­hi­cles (nor­mally only 4WDs are per­mit­ted), even though the club mem­bers se­cured per­mis­sion from lo­cal author­i­ties first.

More read­ers have re­sponded to the epic drive; one for the ef­fort, and one against it. Here’s what they had to say:

Ag pleeeez!

I just read the win­ning let­ter Break­ing The Law in your Septem­ber edi­tion of Leisure Wheels. All I can say is, “Ag pleeez!” My wife and I re­cently were in KZN near the Sani Pass and thought we would at­tempt to drive the pass! We were in our Amarok 4×4 but, when we got to the SA bor­der post, were very dis­ap­pointed to be told that we re­quired our pass­ports to do the pass even though we only wanted to drive to the top with­out go­ing into Le­sotho.

We turned around and started de­scend­ing the road back down from the bor­der and were sur­prised to meet a Le­sotho-reg­is­tered Quan­tum minibus full of lo­cals from Le­sotho on their way up the pass, pre­sum­ably go­ing home af­ter a shop­ping trip to SA.

They were driv­ing a 4×2 and were loaded to the gills.

And there were all the tour ve­hi­cles with their oc­cu­pants in their sa­fari gear do­ing the pass in their spe­cial off-road 4×4s.

On our re­turn to Un­der­berg we vis­ited one of the lo­cal tour op­er­a­tors’ of­fices and dur­ing our chat, asked how it was pos­si­ble that the Quan­tum minibus was al­lowed to go up the pass to Le­sotho.

We were told that the Le­sotho author­i­ties at the top bor­der post al­lowed the lo­cal taxis through to do their shop­ping in Un­der­berg and the South African po­lice post could do noth­ing about it as it is the only route into SA with­out them do­ing a long de­tour to get into SA.

If a 4×2 Quan­tum bus can de­scend the pass and then re­turn to Le­sotho fully loaded with pas­sen­gers and their pur­chases then ‘so what’ if a 4×2 Volk­sie does the pass? So my com­ment is, “Ag pleeez!”

Thank you for a great mag. Les Palmer, Jo­han­nes­burg Thanks for your let­ter Les. How­ever, we sus­pect that some (but prob­a­bly not all) of those Quan­tum taxis are 4×4s. Le­sotho leg­is­la­tion al­lows for the im­por­ta­tion of pre-owned ve­hi­cles, and es­pe­cially from Ja­pan.

We found a nine-seater Toy­ota Quan­tum 3.0D-4D 4WD van with 116 000km on the clock for just $13 000 (or around R195 000) on the in­ter­web... sadly, these ve­hi­cles can­not be legally reg­is­tered in SA – Ed.

They broke The lAw! buT…

The writer of the win­ning let­ter is ab­so­lutely right and a pub­lic road is not the place for this.

On a tech­ni­cal note and as an owner of a 1990 VW, I would like to point out these vin­tage Volk­swa­gens had an in­cred­i­ble off-road abil­ity, de­spite be­ing a 4×2.

It lies in the fact of the engine/gearbox weight be­ing on the rear wheels, a rea­son­able ground clear­ance and be­ing rel­a­tively light. For this rea­son, nei­ther the Mini Club nor a mod­ern 4×2 bakkie with diff lock may be as suc­cess­ful, con­quer­ing the pass.

The fa­ther of a friend of mine, who grew up in south­ern Namibia re­lated the story of a gov­ern­ment con­tract to lay a pipe­line through a sec­tion of dunes and desert.

His work­horse was a wa­ter­cooled VW Kombi with the pipes on the roof rack and mo­tor­ing through dunes with a worker sta­tioned on the roof rack, throw­ing off the pipes as they went along.

But I do agree with the writer of the win­ning let­ter about the law. Piet Coet­see, via email

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