You know when you buy something at the shops, bring it home and then can't remember where you put it? How about doing that with 298 brand new cars - for six years?

In the USA, the county of Miami-Dade bought all those Toyota Prius models in 2006 and 2007, parked them neatly together – and then forgot about them. The story was broken by a local TV channel, and then picked up by local paper El Nuevo Herald (itself a marvellous example of Spanglish – The New Herald). It appears that the cars were parked in a municipal facility upon delivery, and they never moved until the media got interested.

It appears the council hurriedly got about 130 of the cars into service, but the majority are still resting peacefully in the car park. Given Miami's humid climate and proximity to the sea, maybe that should be rusting peacefully. In theory, the hybrid parts are still covered by Toyota's warranty, but we can't help wondering if the lawyers are scanning the small print for exclusions about abandoned vehicles. A battery pack that has not been charged in six years is not likely to be in the best condition.

Now the focus moves on to figuring out who did what and why. Clearly someone in the Mayor's office knew about it, but why did they order cars that appear to have been unnecessary? No doubt the media will be looking closely at whether any official moved into a surprisingly large house sometime around 2007.