Al Gore III’s 100-MPH Hybrid Demo

July 9, 2007: Multiple Sources

Al Gore III Arrest

The arrest of Al Gore III, the former vice-president’s son, for speeding at 105 mph in a Toyota Prius—forget about the drug possession charges—created a publicity bonanza for the high-performance capabilities of hybrids. We offer a few highlights from the media’s coverage.

Gore’s Speeding Prius Displays a Noticeable Absence of Wuss
Los Angeles Times

“Gore’s cruel caning of Toyota’s greener-than-thou hybrid — powered by a small four-cylinder engine and electric motor that together produce about 110 horsepower — rippled through talk radio and the blogosphere Thursday. Many were simply amazed. "How in the world do you get a Toyota Prius to go 100 mph without a cliff to go over?" asked Rush Limbaugh.

“A check of statistics compiled by Car and Driver magazine suggests that the slowest car on the road is not the Prius but the hairy-chested AM General Hummer H1, with a top speed of only 88 mph.

”But for Prius advocates, the Gore affair underscores a point they’ve tried to make all along: Efficiency is just another way to spell performance.”

The Los Angeles Times’s Dan Neil credits the Prius for its great aerodynamics, low resistance tires, and light weight—all critical factors for allowing a vehicle to slice through air. He quotes Mike Michels, spokesman for Toyota: "The way the car is optimized from aero resistance to rolling resistance, cooling systems, the powertrain itself, all of those things any hot-rodder is interested in as making the car go faster."

Yes, a Prius Goes 100 MPH
Slate

“Making this week easier for late-night talk show hosts everywhere, Al Gore III, the son of former Vice President Al Gore, was arrested on Wednesday after police discovered marijuana and prescription drugs in his car. Gore III had been pulled over on the San Diego Freeway for speeding at about 100 mph in his Toyota Prius. Wait a second—can a Prius really go 100 miles per hour?

“Yes, but just. Speed tests have confirmed that a new Prius can top out between 100 mph and 105 mph. That’s not too speedy when compared with Toyota’s conventional sedans—some Corollas can get up to 124 mph, and Camrys can reach 130 mph. But if you buy your car in the United States, you’re unlikely to see much of a difference.

Slate’s Katherine Evans explains that most American cars are equipped with “speed governor mechanisms, which make sure, for liability reasons, that a car won’t go too fast for its tires.” The Corolla and the Prius are governor-limited to 112 mph, while the Toyota Camry is limited to 100 mph and the Hybrid Camry 117 mph.

Gore Kid’s Arrest Could Help Save Planet
Toronto Star

“When I heard Gore’s 24-year-old son, Albert Gore III, had been pulled over driving at such a high rate of speed, and that police had allegedly found drugs in the vehicle, I’ll bet I had the same reaction you did. Gore’s kid was doing 160 kilometres per hour in a hybrid?…This bit of news may do more good for the environmental movement than anything Al Gore has done to date."

Linwood Barclay recognized the need for personal sacrifices to help prevent global warming, as long as he’s not the one who has to make them. He wrote, “Switching over to a hybrid car is one of those right things, but, unfairly or not, it still has a reputation among car enthusiasts as something you have to pedal really fast when you’re on the ramp merging into traffic on the 401.” He added, “That’s all likely to change after news of this arrest.”

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  • KenG

    “Rip Van Winkel” Eduardo, US cars haven’t used carbs in 20 years or more, high octane gas is readily available, sulpher is gone.

  • Eduardo Maio

    The USA is still a little behind the rest of the world in terms of cars. You still use carburators, for God sake!

    The Prius top speed is about 110mph, for a 77 hp car is not bad. Well, in 1992 Peugeot made a 1.3 engine with only 100hp and it had a top speed of 132mph.

    There is a replacement for displacement. Get with the program. You can use direct fuel injection, increase the octane rating and reduce the amount of sulphur of your fuels, have beter engine management systems, and use variable valve timming.

    What’s all the fuss about a Prius going 100mph? Even a 54hp car like the Fiat Panda will do 100mph.

  • CLD

    Eduardo,

    Sulfur is at 15 ppm in U.S. fuels. How much lower do you want it?

  • Eduardo Maio

    KenG so you can stop thinking about a 200MPG Carburetor right?

    CLD in Europe is already at 10ppm and 0ppm fuel is already available in some stations. Sulphur, like lead, isn’t necessary, it only increases emissions… There’s more to see then just CO2.

  • Speed Racer

    Not only is high octane gas readily available, it’s also a gigantic waste of money to use it in most cars sold in the US, since the majority don’t need it to avoid knock, and run no more efficiently with 87 than 93. Seriously indeed.

  • Gerald Shields

    Al Gore for 08 , ya sissies!

  • domboy

    Who cares. Besides, I’ll bet he sure wasn’t getting 51mpg @100mph.

  • Travis

    Was this website *that* desperate for a story? Has *nothing* been happening in the past week?

  • Danny

    A Fiat Panda will NOT do 100 mph, as long at is not free falling. Ours felt like falling apart doing more then 70, and it was in good condition.

    About speeds in the U.S. Many highways allow speeds of 75 mph, like those in Nevada (not talking about freeways/interstates, I mean roads between towns). Now I’d like to know from you Eduardo one country in Europe where you can legally do 120 kmh on an undivided 2 lane road…

  • P

    I think Travis is right. This website is really desperate that they have to post a story about a drug dealer driving a Prius.

  • Arnold

    Which of the following is the greatest danger?

    a. an environmentally friendly hybrid driven in the hands of a drunken fool traveling 100 mph.

    or –

    b. an automatic assault rifle in the hands of a responsible citizen.

    clue: it depends on the person – not the weapon of choice

  • Mark

    Al Gore’s son was travelling downhill on a known speeding area of Orange County California. The CHP issues numerous tickets for this stretch of I-5. The Prius had help, but I’ll bet the car was shaking at that speed.

  • Mark

    Al Gore’s son was travelling downhill on a known speeding area of Orange County California. The CHP issues numerous tickets for this stretch of I-5. The Prius had help, but I’ll bet the car was shaking at that speed.

  • Dave K

    Just for the record, the Prius will go 100mph.(I had to know, I usually don’t go over 65) and it feels very stable, remember aerodynamics becomes a bigger factor as you go faster.

  • Hal Howell

    Al Gore is an idiot!

  • Speed Racer

    Not that I recommend this, but I’ve had my Prius up to a tad over 100 MPH on a stretch of I-190 in MA that was actually mostly uphill (I was traveling from Worcester toward Leominster), though not a steep grade. Road conditions otherwise were average. It took the Prius a while to get up to that speed, but once there, the ride was surprisingly stable and quiet. My guess is that, despite the lightness of the car, its excellent aerodynamics make high speeds less loud and turbulent. And I’m pretty sure I could have squeezed a couple more MPHs out of it, as, after the acceleration phase, engine noise was not excessive. I can tell you this, though: That maybe 30 sec. I spent doing 100 sure sucked down the gasoline. Just that one little joyride made a noticible dent in my per-tank average. My guess is that if you’re hauling it around at better than 85 MPH on a regular basis, you’ll be lucky to get 40MPG on average out of the thing.

  • 3D

    I get ~46 mpg in the summer while driving 70mph. Going to 80 and more is no problem, smooth and quick. I tested it once on flat, straight, empty highway and got to 110 fairly quickly. No shaking and smooth (a bit noisy). This is with a 2001 Prius. The new ones are probably at least as good. What I find annoying is that all these people (including meadia) are ASSUMING Prius has bad performance even though they never drove it.

  • a girl

    usually when ur car shakes at a high rate of speed its because ur fuel injectors are dirty or need to be replaced. not because ur going to fast. yes they will make rattle but not shake, especially if its new.

  • keeping it simple

    My Audi A2 does 100mph while burning 5 liters of diesel pr. 100km (~50mpg) in it’s 3-cylinder 1.2L engine. Although it’s much more comfortable (and less noisy) to drive 70mph and burn 3L/100km (~80mpg).

  • AP

    To me the worst part is the hypocrisy. Buying a Prius states you want to save the planet. Driving it 100 MPH shows you don’t care any more than Al Gore, who has the carbon footprint of my home town (notwithstanding the carbon temporary “feel-good” credits he buys – and sells).

  • Eduardo Maio

    Danny what Panda where you driving, was it a 90′ version with only 45hp? Even that one did 85mph, lol!

    And I don’t know any european country that has undivided roads that allow a maximum speed of 120km/h, the maximum is 100km/h, when there is a long distance to be travelled there is usually a highway with minimum of 4 lanes (two for each side of the traffic), but I’m not sure what this has to do with the Prius doing 100mph.

  • Texan wildflower

    I’ve had my Prius up to 94 on a hilly area of highway where I live in Texas. It got to 94 quickly, was really quiet, lightweight, and had the “get up and go” that would surpise you. It’s a beautiful car. I love not stopping near as often at gas stations. I love everything about this car! Thank you, Toyota!

  • Adam McIntyre

    this website has alot of useful info i am glad thirs a website like this

  • Danny

    Eduardo, lol, sorry I do not recall why I wrote what I wrote about speeds. I may have drawn the wrong conclusion.
    In general, many people outside the U.S. think Americans drive really slow which is not true. Going 120 kmh on an undivided road in Nevada was really left some remarkable impressions, after all when meeting trucks, the whole car shook when hit by the air blow. I wasn’t used to that while not being a slow driver here in Europe.

    The Panda we had must have been the ’90 version or before (’86?). We had to shred it after it failed the smoke test. I believe it had broken piston rings. It was a crap car, and rusty, simply a FIAT. I felt very unsafe in it

  • Paul

    I had a Leyland mini 1098cc Auto which would do over 100MPH and over 50MPG
    later I had a Citroen vis 1156 cc, which was faster but would get nearly 65mpg. the US market is non competitive when it comes to MPG there are many models not sold in the US that get better mileage than the Prius, Hybrids are feel good deal they do not in anyway solve the real problem of vehicles doing only 15mpg..
    ..and final in the UK there are two lane country roads which are de restricted where can go 120 kph

  • dave

    what difference does it make what little al was driving? he was speeding with drugs in his car