The love-in for hybrids continues

To say Vancouver was an early adopter of hybrid vehicles is a bit of an understatement.

The world’s first hybrid taxi debuted on Lower Mainland streets on Nov. 1, 2000, with cab driver Andrew Grant behind the wheel. That 2001 model logged more than 300,000 kilometres before being retired — actually it was shipped back to Japan by Toyota and disassembled for R&D purposes. In 2007, the B.C. government put in place a policy that all new additions to cab company fleets in Vancouver must be either hybrids or high fuel economy vehicles, and today nearly 50 per cent of all city taxis are hybrids.

Likewise, Vancouver residents have also embraced hybrids, with ICBC reporting that of the nearly 30,000 hybrids registered in B.C. in 2013, more than 19,000 were on the Lower Mainland.

To be sure, hybrid vehicles have come a long way since Toyota brought the Prius to the world.

There are currently 33 different new hybrid vehicles for sale in British Columbia, everything from the to-be-expected econoboxes — like the Toyota Prius c — to full-sized pickups — the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid — and high-performance sedans — the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid. And everything in between.

Province Driving launched our Hybrid Highway series two years ago with an in-depth look at the Toyota Prius, and followed that up last Fall with the Hybrid Highway Commuter Challenge, in which we chronicled the weekly commutes of 10 readers in a Toyota Prius c.

With gas now a given at a buck-and-a-half a litre, we’ve decided to bring the weekly series back for the summer and into the fall, with a fresh look at all aspects of hybrids in Vancouver.

We’ll delve into what exactly makes a hybrid a hybrid, from how it works, the technology behind it and if driving a hybrid is any different than driving a solely gas-powered vehicle. We’ll take a closer look at Vancouver’s remarkable rate of adoption of this technology.

We’ll look at how the first Prius model has changed over the past 14 years, and do our best to find the highest mileage Prius in the province.

We’ll look at the business and fleet adoption of hybrids in Vancouver, with particular focus on the taxi business and how other cities around the world have learned and copied the ‘Vancouver experience.’

As it’s summertime, we’ll pack up a hybrid for a weekend road trip and see how far we can go on one tankful into this beautiful province and back.

And finally, we’ll offer up some reviews of the best 2014 and 2015 hybrid models in B.C. dealer showrooms.

As with past Hybrid Highway series, your participation is key, so if you have a good — or bad — hybrid story to tell, let us know.

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About Andrew McCredie