3 August 2007

Change in hire car legislation

| jube
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There was recently a change made by John Hargraves MLA to the hire car regulations to allow the registration of hybrid vehicles as hire cars. No size or specification of vehicle was attached to the hybrid registrations, though a petrol or diesel hire car must have a long wheelbase (eg Statesman but not Commodore, Fairlane but not Falcon, etc.) This ensured a comfortable vehicle operating as a ‘limousine’ service. Recently, 2 new hybrid vehicles have been registered as hire cars, one a Lexus RX400h (the Lexus version of the Rav4) and a Toyota Prius.

There was a letter to the editor in the CT approx a fortnight ago from a passenger who felt that the Toyota Prius was not the vehicle he expected to pick him up from the airport, and the comments I remember from the letter were: “I joked with the driver that it should be half the fare for half a car”, and “Who authorised these vehicles to operate as hire cars?”.

The overall industry view is that these vehicles could downgrade the industry, as traditionally a hire car equals a limousine, not a hatchback or 4-wheel drive. All other legally registered hire cars in Canberra are either Holden Statesman/Caprice or Ford Fairlane/LTD (up to 4 passengers), Toyota Tarago (up to 7 passengers) or stretch limousines (up to 9 passengers).

I am very interested in people’s views on 1) a massive change to the industry and 2) how happy you would be to be collected from the airport in a small hatchback or a large sedan (at the same price).

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Snahons_scv6_berlina2:15 pm 07 Aug 07

at the end of the day if they could make an engine that:
1. Consumed 1 ltr / 100kms
2. Had a manually adjustable exhaust note to reflect a rumbling V8 through to a screaming 4cyl turbo.
3. Accelerated 0-100 in 4 seconds.

Then we wouldn’t care what size the motor was would we ?

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt2:08 pm 07 Aug 07

WMC comparing the consumption of a Prius to a V8 sedan is just stupid. Let’s compare it to something of similar size, say a Volkswagen Polo. A diesel Polo will return similar fuel consumption figures, and still doesn’t have a battery pack to dispose of (which is something you seem to conveniently be overlooking).

Gungahlin Al1:35 pm 06 Aug 07

Think there is a definitional issue here. I see “hire car” and think “a car I can hire and drive myself”; limo means to me huge car with driver, and there appears to be no shorthand for just “ordinary car with driver that isn’t a taxi and is hired for a fixed period of time”. I have used the latter once for a 8-hour round trip, and the only things that mattered to me were being able to sit in relative comfort in the back and work on my computer and phone the whole time. No day wasted behind a steering wheel, no inane conversation, no stench of the driver’s cigarette breath, etc. Just a cost effective use of my time.
Would have been happy with many a car including a Prius for such a job – particularly if it came a bit cheaper than a limo.
I question therefore Jube’s claims on the “traditional” industry. Resistence to change is generally a good way to live long and prosper in business…

All of this said, I’m surprised that no-one has yet brought up the Southpark episode on the topic. The issue was the cloud of “smug” exuded by everyone who bought a Toyota “Pious” or a Honda “Hindsight”, with the smug emanating from Southpark and LA merging into a supercell, as the owners went around sniffing their own farts.
It was one of those Southpark classics that really get to the nub of some people’s tokenism with this sort of thing…

corrections: prisu= prius
ewnvironment = environment

oh, a limo. I though you meant a taxi.

Prius is smaller than a Camry in terms of cabin space, at least its smaller than the new Camry’s cabin. The camry (which is almost identicle in size to an Aurion) is smaller again then a commodore or falcon. Also, anyone sat in one of those Priuses when their brand new. I just got two new cars, 07 Corolla and Aurion and they don’t smell much. But the Priuses smell like a mix of vinager and dead mice. Sure, Prisu may be good for the ewnvironment, but might not be good for you.

asp – my point was that if I was booking a limo, I wouldn’t expect a Prius or Avalon.

ChrisInTurner111:07 pm 04 Aug 07

Next time you see a Prius in a parking area you might note that they are taller than a Commadore or a Falcon. They are about the size of a Camry.

McDonalds also has a lot of McDonalds friendly information on their website. I might suggest obtaining supportive information from somebody other than the seller of aforementioned item in order to apply credibility.

Woody Mann-Caruso: “Are you two retarded, blind, or both?”

Charming! I’m fairly new to this site, so hope that this sort of abusive comment is an aberation rather than the norm.

I’m sure the Toyota website does have a lot of information supporting their claims that the Prius is the most eco-friendly car on the road. As it happens, I’ve never seen the “Dust to Dust” article you refer to. The view I expressed was based on articles I’d seen in the US, and subsequent dinner discussions with people in the automotive industry.

I may be wrong about this issue, but calling me – or others – “retarded” is not likely to persuade.

Depending on the legnth of the trip, limos can be cheaper. $40 for 1/2 an hour means from the airport to my house costs $15 less than with a tax. And I get a clean, spacious car with nice interior.

el, don’t complain about having to put up woth an Avalon or Prius as a taxi. I know it’s not great, b at least you get leg room. There are places in Europe where a Smart4Two constitutes a taxi. Hell, don’t get me started on Thailand, motorcycle with a trailer anyone?

There’s no guarantee those batteries will ever get recycled, woody.

Those compact fluoro lights also contain mercury, how do you feel about that one too?

Keep repenting, carbon sinner!

Woody Mann-Caruso12:57 pm 04 Aug 07

The Prius needs dozens of batteries, which need to be replaced every few years.

Then there’s the matter of disposing of the (toxic) old batteries.

Are you two retarded, blind, or both? From the Toyota website – you kow, the link I posted about an inch above where you posted your ignorant drivel:

“The Prius battery (and the battery-power management system) has been designed to maximize battery life. In part this is done by keeping the battery at an optimum charge level – never fully draining it and never fully recharging it. As a result, the Prius battery leads a pretty easy life. We have lab data showing the equivalent of 180,000 miles with no deterioration and expect it to last the life of the vehicle. We also expect battery technology to continue to improve: the second-generation model battery is 15% smaller, 25% lighter, and has 35% more specific power than the first. This is true of price as well. Between the 2003 and 2004 models, service battery costs came down 36% and we expect them to continue to drop so that by the time replacements may be needed it won’t be a much of an issue. Since the car went on sale in 2000, Toyota has not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

Toyota has a comprehensive battery recycling program in place and has been recycling nickel-metal hydride batteries since the RAV4 Electric Vehicle was introduced in 1998. Every part of the battery, from the precious metals to the plastic, plates, steel case and the wiring, is recycled. To ensure that batteries come back to Toyota, each battery has a phone number on it to call for recycling information and dealers are paid a $200 “bounty” for each battery.”

Then there’s the matter of disposing of the (toxic) old batteries.

Also, there’s a VW Diesel hatchback which returns similar consumption to the Prius, without the bloat of an extra electric motor and battery cells.

The reason I would book a hire car would be the convenience of knowing someone was there to pick me up, and that I wouldn’t have to potentially stand in line behind 100 other people waiting for a taxi. I wouldn’t mind what sort of car it was so long as it was reasonably modern, clean and comfortable, and could fit me and my luggage. I don’t think there’s a problem with having different kinds of models on the road, and used as hire cars, so long as people know what they’re getting. If you want a limousine, pay a premium. If you want a cheaper, but still reliable service, book through someone who can provide that.

VYBerlina’s comments about the Prius are right, BTW. There was a study in America fairly recently which found the most eco-friendly car on the road over there was in fact the Jeep Cherokee diesel. Simple in design, cheap to manufacture, with fewer parts. The Prius needs dozens of batteries, which need to be replaced every few years.

If I was expecting a Statesman or Fairlane (a fair expectation after all) I’d be *well* pissed off if a Prius or Avalon turned up.

In order to not piss Mr Hargreaves off, I might not mention my moniker if I were you.

A few of these comments are a bit precious. I have used hire cars to and from the airport, but never for their limousine size or quality. The main reason is their reliability – being on time and getting me where I want to be without the stress of uncertainty one does get occasionally with taxis. Second reason is the courtesy, friendliness and helpfulness of the drivers; some taxi drivers display the same of course, but I have never been without it in a hire car. So I wouldn’t mind if it was a Ford Prefect or a Volkswagen – or even a Prius.

Woody Mann-Caruso6:37 pm 03 Aug 07

Do people know the impact of manufacturing, and disposing, of such a large battery pack?

Yes, but I suspect you don’t. Perhaps you fell for the silly ‘Dust to Dust’ article comparing Hummers to Priuses that received widespread publicity after being published in the Mail on Sunday. Most people forget to mention that the Mail subsequently retracted the article “in order to prevent further misinterpretation”, and that the D2D study is widely regarded as junk research. If you want to learn about the Prius battery – it’s extraordinarily long life, and Toyota’s end-to-end recycling program – visit the Toyota website.

Sure, it uses a bit less fuel, but not as much less as you’d think.

I’m guessing it uses a metric less than a V8 Berlina, or a Fairlane G220, or my dad’s Statesman.

Sorry WMC – I disclosed now as I realised I hadn’t initially, though I am glad in one way as I also obtained these views without prejudice, which I would see as the most honest comments I can use in my discussion with Hargraves. In my position I act on behalf of the industry, but the industry reacts to the publics wants and needs therefore these have been very helpful. I am not trying to push my point, but I do have a view of my own.

Woody Mann-Caruso6:19 pm 03 Aug 07

And AG Canberra – thanks for the support, you have got my point entirely.

Wait – I thought you were here because you were “interested in views”, not to make a point. It’s nice to see you came here with an open mind, rather than cherry-picking for “evidence” to support an opinion you’ve already formed. Maybe a bit of up-front disclosure about who you are and why you’re here might be in order next time you decide you want to roll out a couple of acres of astroturf.

And to clear any possible confusion, my hire car as of Monday is a Ford Fairlane G220, replacing my current Holden Statesman – all the cars operating in our fleet (11 of them) are of the same size and quality.

Thanks to all for your views, it is really helpful. To address a couple:

“I’m very suspicious of sweeping statements like “The overall industry view is…”. “

I can safely make this remark – I am the President of the Limousine Association of the ACT & Qbn, and have canvassed my members. I am looking for these comments to gauge public view before meeting with Mr Hargraves late next week. And btw, the Taragos are used as multi passenger vehicles as it is a bit hard to aqueeze 7 into a sedan…

“surely people dont hire vehicles without knowing what they are getting, and, if they dont know, surely they dont care?”

Actually, up until very recently you could bank on a sedan from any hire car company if you made a booking, and it is not necessarily being advised to passengers if a different vehicle will be doing the job…and at the same price.

And AG Canberra – thanks for the support, you have got my point entirely.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt4:56 pm 03 Aug 07

I love the greenie comments! Do people realise just how incredibly environmentall unfriendly cars like the Prius really are?? Do people know the impact of manufacturing, and disposing, of such a large battery pack? Sure, it uses a bit less fuel, but not as much less as you’d think.

I find it funny that half an hour after hearing (on RA) that there is now a prius as a hire car, I drove up behind one. Only in Canberra.

I’m very suspicious of sweeping statements like “The overall industry view is…”. If the existing service included Taragos (hardly a limo) then I don’t see a problem.

I think it’s crap. What was a clear set up for a higher class vehicle with drivers in suits etc has been watered down to include near base model Avalon’s and now Prius’s. And neither attract a cheaper rate.

All previous “HC” plates were bought-back by the ACT Gov a couple of years ago and new ones issued via lease payments – no up front 250k like taxi’s. Since then it seems that all you need is something that has 4 wheels and a driver and you are in business.

The companies argue that they are offering a range of vehicles. Problem is that it is when times get busy and they take a corporate booking at full rates and the Avalon turns up for your run to the airport – what are you going to do – stand there and demand a proper car?

Once again the Gov don’t know how to govern…..

well, as I have no idea what this is about I am compelled to have my 2c worth

surely people dont hire vehicles without knowing what they are getting, and, if they dont know, surely they dont care?

why would this be regulated?

is ther a Datsun 12Y retro pick-up service (remember your student days ? – re-live your [poverty stricken] youth!)that is forbidden by law from turning up with a Ford Escort?

that said- if you pay for a limo – you’d expect a limo, but, if you just pay for … an unspecified hire car you’d expect…a suprise?

I can arrange mung-bean and lentil cut lunches for you too if you like.

Woody Mann-Caruso1:34 pm 03 Aug 07

I’d be very happy with a Prius. If you’re going to be driving something around all day every day with one person in it, I’d prefer it to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

But saying that, if I had a choice between a Canberra Cabs Commodore/Falcon, or a Prius, for roughly the same price, i’d take the Prius. So long as I didn’t have to sit in the back 🙂

Personally i’d be peeved to pay for a limousine, and get a Prius. Rear seat legroom is substantially different.

DarkLadyWolfMother1:24 pm 03 Aug 07

As long as there’s enough room for me and any others with me to be comfortable and not squished – and room for any baggaage – I don’t care.

Not having been in the prius I don’t know how roomy they are for far too tall people.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt1:21 pm 03 Aug 07

Why not just arrange things as you do for drive-yourself hire cars? Want a small hatchback – fairly cheap. Want a large sedan – costs a bit more.

That said, I can see why people would choose to use a limousine instead of a taxi. They’re vastly nicer to ride in, and often cost less.

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