There is a new kind of green racing going on in Japan. The Prius Cup was started in 2007 to familiarize dealership staff with Toyota ’s hybrid. The goal of the series is to promote conservation and teamwork. “Through this race, our teammates will understand exactly how these cars work, and I think this will benefit all my associates," said Kazuo Oguri, executive vice president of Nagoya Toyopet Corp, one of Japans largest Toyota dealers.
The Prius Cup is a 20 lap race comprised of both a service and a race portion. For service, the teams are clocked on how fast and how accurately they are able to service their car. This consists of everything from checking the oil to rotating the tires. During the race portion, three different drivers take turns behind the wheel. Teams are penalized for going too fast or even going too slow. Drivers strive to keep the car running as efficient as possible. A key strategy is accelerating slowly at the green flag and after pit stops, letting the hybrid vehicle’s electric motor do most of the work. Both the service and race scores are then combined to determine the winner of the day.
There is newfound enthusiasm for the Prius Cup in Japan due to the upcoming release of the third model. This is a perfect forum for dealers to show the manufacturer that they are ready and capable to sell the new Prius.