Saving the planet

Lexus RX400h

Anyone who needs more proof that we humans are a wasteful lot need only to start looking in any doctor’s surgery.

Whilst I’ve already switched to long-life fluoro lighting I just can’t seem to give up my laser printer in my paperless office.

Prices have certainly dropped on this piece of must-have office equipment with my latest laser printer costing me only $99 and through the miracle of corporate monopolization I also scored 20 cents off per litre on my next tank of petrol.

It’s just a pity that I might be tempted to toss my printer into a land-fill when I need more toner because a new cartridge is $159 ie a lot more than the printer cost me.

I’m still bewildered by the mathematics and can only assume that the people who make printers only do so just because they want you to buy their cartridges.

So with all this wasteful consumerism wouldn’t it be nice to drive a car that wasn’t so energy inefficient and greenhouse unfriendly.

Leaving aside the latest generation of diesels, the next best thing are hybrid cars from Toyota (nee Lexus).

When you come to think about it wouldn’t it be nice to store all that energy wasted when we brake or coast down hills instead of burning our ever diminishing reserves of oil.

And even without all that hybrid technology wouldn’t it be a good idea to save all the fuel we waste idling when stuck at traffic lights.

The Lexus RX400h can do all of these things and the hybrid technology just so happens to boost the performance of the car at the same time.

It’s (smaller) 3.3 litre engine can push it’s (heavier) RX body faster than the normally aspirated RX350 and it’s all done with a smoothness that can’t be equalled by reciprocating engines.

And those of us who did physics and anatomy as under-graduates will remember that electric motors produce more torque at low revs and this means that the hybrid Lexus pushes from a stand-still more forcefully than a V8.

Lexus even think that measuring rpm is superfluous and provide a power meter rather than a tachometer.

Although the Lexus GS450h lost its boot space in its hybrid transformation the more upright RX400h has hidden its NiMH batteries under the rear seat.

This means that you’d never know from the outside that you’re helping to save the planet when you drive the 4WD Lexus.

The salesman pointed out that an added bonus of the electric drive was the totally silent running at low speed. This could come in handy when you’re entering the garage after a night on call.

I’ve got to admit that I was falling in love with Lexus hybrid cars and their unashamed hi-tech attributes.

That was until whilst driving the Lexus I came crashing back to earth when I heard an interview with Doctor Christian Rowan from Oakey on ABC radio.

Sure, the Mark Levinson stereo was picking up the signal loud and clear, but Chris who had been my resident was talking about the poor folk out at Cunnamulla in south western Queensland.

Seems they’ve had 41 new doctors in the past two years and that can’t be good for patient care or continuity.

And that number 41 seemed like it would stick in my mind forever like 38 which is the number of ATP from the Kreb’s cycle. It meant that there was a new doctor in Cunnamulla every two weeks or so.

I must admit that I was left feeling rather guilty in my almost $100K car with the thought that although I had 13 coats of paint, satellite navigation and a rear view camera in my Lexus that my friends in Queensland Health still weren’t able to provide an adequate medical service to a struggling community of 1600 people.

Let’s hope that a town doesn’t have to be big enough to have a Lexus dealer to warrant a decent health service.

Safe motoring,
Dr Clive Fraser

For: The only environmentally-friendly SUV.

Against: $8,700 more expensive and 185 kg heavier than the RX350. This car costs $44,000 less in the US.

This car would suit: UK doctors because hybrid cars don’t pay the London congestion tax.

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    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.