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ALL-HYBRID LINE-UP FOR TOYOTA'S 2010 ENERGYWISE RALLY CHALLENGE
Toyota has returned to the AA Energywise Rally in 2010 to showcase its expanded hybrid range and latest hybrid technology.
After winning the 2004 Energywise Rally with the second generation Prius, Toyota is planning to test its latest hybrid technology in the 2010 rally with two third generation Prius, as well as the new Camry Hybrid launched earlier this year.
Rounding out the all-hybrid line-up is the Lexus RX450h SUV, which will be driven by well known music, sporting and TV personalities Murray Thom and Marc Ellis. Marc and Murray plan to share driving duties and are keen to continue their pre-rally competition for ultimate bragging rights.
Other Toyota drivers on the start line in Auckland on 11 October will be motorsport legend Chris Amon (the 2004 Rally winner whose Prius fuel consumption of 4.02 litres/100km still stands as the Rally record for cars sold in New Zealand), and motoring journalist and passionate eco-driver Jacqui Madelin, who has also achieved top placings in previous rallies.
Chris Amon says he is excited to be back in the Energywise Rally and is keen to stand atop the podium again: "The objective may be as far removed from Formula One as you can get, but it's funny how competitive juices flow again once we hit the start line. It's good fun, but make no mistake, we all want to win."
The Rally runs from October 11-14, and is organised by the AA, EECA and Gull. This year, there are 49 vehicles competing in eight classes for the title of the most fuel efficient in each class, and the supreme winner is the vehicle with the lowest running cost per kilometre in the 1780km round trip from Auckland to Wellington and back (via Whanganui and Napier).
In the Rally, the cost per kilometre includes the cost of fuel, plus road user charges in the case of diesel vehicles, to ensure that the true running costs for diesel vehicles are reflected.
Dave Rhodes-Robinson, Toyota New Zealand's Marketing and Environment Manager, says this brings some reality to the claims of car makers who trumpet the fuel efficiency of their diesel vehicles based on laboratory ADR tests, and neglect to mention the additional running costs for diesels.
"The Rally is a real-world test of fuel efficiency and a more accurate indication of the real fuel economy and running costs New Zealand drivers face in our unique road and driving conditions".
Toyota has been developing hybrid technology for more than 30 years and recently passed the 2.5 million sales mark for hybrids globally.
Dave Rhodes-Robinson said: "The Rally is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the advantages and benefits of hybrid technology for our customers."
He says Toyota's expanded hybrid line-up including the Prius, Camry and three Lexus models (soon to be four with the new CT200h compact luxury hatch) reflects the company's global strategy to bring hybrid technology into the mainstream, and provide a wide range of hybrid choices for New Zealand drivers.
The Toyota Energywise Rally team plans to send updates and photos from the road during the Rally - check out their progress at www.toyota.co.nz/energywiserally which also includes details of lunch-stops and finish points so people can come down and meet the team. People can also follow the team on Twitter @toyota_ewr.
Toyota Team for the 2010 Energywise Rally:
Prius 1 - Chris Amon and Ashton Rowe (Toyota New Zealand)
Prius 2 - Mark Whittaker (founder of www.ecodriver.co.nz) and Shelley Rushton (Toyota New Zealand)
Camry Hybrid - Jacqui Madelin and Tristan Lavender (Toyota New Zealand)
Large lifestyle/leisure class:
Lexus RX450h - Marc Ellis and Murray Thom.