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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