Toyota Prius (1997 – Present)Posted by Auto Perceptions on April 16, 2013 at 12:49 am.
The Toyota Prius is the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. The Prius is a full hybrid electric mid-size hatchback, and is sold in more than 70 countries and regions. Its largest markets are Japan and North America, where the EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) rate the Prius as among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States.
The Prius is sometimes referred to as a combined hybrid, a vehicle that can be propelled by gasoline and/or electric power.
When turned on with the “Power” button, it is ready to drive immediately with the electric motor.
Electric Vehicle mode will be maintained under most low-load driving conditions, and can be manually set by pushing the “EV” button. This permits driving with low noise and no fuel consumption, and is advertised as a quiet option for short journeys, for example in residential areas at night.
The car automatically reverts to normal mode if the battery becomes exhausted.
Fact: Prius is a Latin word meaning “before”. According to Toyota, the name was chosen because the Prius was launched before environmental awareness became a mainstream social issue.
The Toyota Prius pioneered the use of hybrid technology in a production vehicle. When it first appeared, it was an expensive proposition. Early adopters would have been far fewer had the Prius not had some star power vouching for it.
A large number of Prius-owning progressive celebrities, concerned about making an environmentally friendly political statement, turned the Prius into “Hollywood’s latest politically correct status symbol”, as dubbed by the Washington Post.
The vehicle has also come to carry an image as being a car for politically left-wing environmentalists.
In July 2007 The New York Times published an article using data from CNW Marketing Research finding that 57% of Prius buyers said their main reason for buying was that “it makes a statement about me”, while just 37% cited fuel economy as a prime motivator.
This has led many to believe that the driver’s desire to “show off” is a stronger motivator for purchasing the Prius than the desire to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Over time, and with the influx of similar vehicles from other manufacturers, the Prius has begun to outgrow this image, and its continued existence and sales prove it to be a stable success.
Statement: Environmentalists embrace it, performance enthusiasts shun it, and the middle East probably hates it.