The Prius Prime is a smart step as a plug-in electric car. The plug-in hybrid avoids most of the need for gas. Similar to the Chevy Volt (but with about half the electric range), with one charge of the battery and one tank of gas, the driver has hundreds of miles of driving range. The problem is that drivers who aren’t trying to maximize their efficiency and minimize their range can end up using a lot of gas and spewing a lot of pollution.
Japan Toyota is encouraging Prius Prime drivers to drive as efficiently as possible, though. Toyota is offering immediate incentives — actual financial incentives — to more efficient drivers.
“Toyota has formed a partnership with five major electricity providers in Japan to offer a program that rewards points to drivers who maximize the electric mode,” Autoblog reports. “These points aren’t arbitrary. They have actual monetary value and can be used to help pay electric bills or be exchanged for products.” It is a bit of a difference from normal efficient-driving savings (in gas or electricity savings), which are vaguely represented via trees on one’s dashboard.
“According to Toyota, points are awarded using a few types of data. One component is how far drivers travel on electric power only, and since the program is meant to encourage electric driving, it’s safe to assume that longer distances earn more points.”
The EV realm and utilities are more directly connected with this next topic: “The other components include how much home charging is performed, and various other unnamed data collected by the car’s data communication module. Toyota tracks the data of people in the program, and provides it to the power companies that award points. Exactly how the other data affects points wasn’t given by Toyota.”
That is an interesting approach to business and sustainability in action. Notably, this is not Toyota’s first incentive to drivers in Japan.
Autoblog also wrote about earlier incentives focused on promoting safe driving. A potential life-saving promotion, the app seeks to halt distracted driving with the phone. “Three companies including Toyota, KDDI Corporation, and coffee company Komeda will launch an app that will reward drivers with free coffee for driving without using a phone. … The app is pretty straightforward. Install it on the phone, set the phone face-down, and let it record the distance you drive without touching the phone. The app uses the gyroscopic sensors to recognize if you start using the phone. Once you hit 100 kilometers, you get a free coffee from Komeda, and every 200 kilometers after that earns another cup.”
A cup of coffee is a nice bonus for drivers who are more cautious, and Toyota’s emphasis on safety is appreciated.
“Toyota reported that the app was downloaded 37,000 times and drivers racked up over 1.6 million miles of phone-free motoring. It will be interesting to see how many people sign up for this new Prius program, and whether similar programs show up in different countries with different companies.” Indeed.
Photo by Cynthia Shahan for CleanTechnica.pics
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