Questions and Answers
About the cars...
How does a hybrid car work?
A hybrid car combines a petrol-powered engine with an electric motor to provide lower emissions and improved fuel economy. When the car is stopped (like at traffic lights), idling or driving at slower speeds, the petrol engine cuts out, and the electric motor drives the car. When the car is accelerating or driving at faster speeds, the electric motor assists the petrol motor. When the car is braking, the car converts energy that would otherwise be wasted to charge the electric battery.
Do you have to plug it in?
No. The car never needs to be plugged in. The petrol engine and the "regenerative braking" system charge the electric battery and keep it charged.
What's the fuel consumption?
Officially 4.4 litres per 100 km. That's about 1100km per tank. Which means you can drive from Auckland to Wellington and still have more than enough fuel in the tank to get most of the way back!
I've read the batteries in these cars are really bad for the environment?
Nope. The batteries in the Prius are nickel metal hydride batteries, which have a lower environmental impact than traditional lead acid or nickel cadmium batteries. In NZ there is a comprehensive battery recycling programme, which means every part of the battery from the precious metals to the plastic, steel and wiring is recycled. The batteries are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. So far Toyota in NZ has not had to replace any Prius batteries.
About the environment
The scientists can't agree on global warming... isn't all this climate change stuff just the weather?
It can be confusing, with everything you see on TV and read in the paper about global warming. Personally, we believe there is a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, and that it's up to all of us to do what we can to make changes where we can. Which is why Matakabs is using hybrid cars.
We think there's a huge amount of evidence about this. Of course, everyone should form their own opinion, and it's a great idea to inform yourself about environmental issues. We really encourage you to see the DVD "An inconvenient truth"; it does a great job of explaining it all in simple terms.
Come on. Aren't these hybrid cars just a fad? What can driving one of these really do to help the environment?
We're so glad you asked! Transport is our country's single largest energy consumer. Within New Zealand, transport accounts for over 43% of all consumer energy use and it emits 46% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions. There are all sorts of small things you can do to cut fuel consumption, and riding in this car is one of them. This Prius is what's known as a "super ultra low emission" vehicle. This means it has close to zero carbon emissions. So just by using Matakabs, you're doing something very real to lower NZ's carbon dioxide emissions. In the US, hybrid cars are estimated to have saved 5.1 million barrels of fuel since 1991.
It's not us who have to change, it's China and India and all those countries, isn't it?
It's true, all the countries in the world need to contribute to solving this problem. Although New Zealand is only responsible for 0.2% of global carbon emissions, we are rated 11th in the world for per capita greenhouse gas emissions.
We can still make a difference, and we can be an amazing example to people in other countries. Plus, we will be affected by climate change just as much as everyone else, and we're a trading nation and we need to be prepared to be on the same footing as our trading partners. Everyone doing a little bit, adds up to a big change.
What's the point of bothering to do things for the environment when it's such a massive, global problem?
It is such a big problem, isn't it? It can feel really overwhelming. But we like to think of it as a challenge. Human beings are capable of amazing innovation; we think human beings are capable of solving the big problem of global warming. We have to, really; don't we all want the world to be a place our children, and their children, can live comfortably in?
What else does this company do to be green?
We conserve energy in our office wherever we can. We minimise paper use. We recycle all the paper we do use. We wash our cars using minimal water or greywater (depending on whose place we wash at). We don't use chemical cleaners. We try, wherever we can, to leave as light of a footprint as we can.
How come your fares aren't cheaper than normal cabs?
Our fares are cheaper than normal cabs! We think our fares are also great value; they're cheaper than an average cab company in Auckland, but our service is way better than average! The fuel cost are just a small part of the cost of running this business, the staff costs, maintenance, administration, etc are far bigger costs and all these are taken into account when we make our fare structure.
Who owns the company?
Matakabs is privately owned by Murray and Debby Bradburn.
Can I come and work for you?
Maybe, call Murray for a chat.
09 422 2244 - 0800 kabride (0800 522743)