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|Class||Compact car (1997–2003)|
Mid-size car (2003–present)
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive|
|Class||Compact car (1997–2003)|
Mid-size car (2003–present)
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive|
The Toyota Prius (pron.: //; plural: Prii //) is a full hybrid electric mid-size hatchback, formerly a compact sedan developed and manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation. The EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) rate the Prius as among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States based on smog-forming emissions.
The Prius first went on sale in Japan in 1997, and was available at all four Toyota Japan dealerships, making it the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It was subsequently introduced worldwide in 2000. The Prius is sold in almost 80 countries and regions, with its largest markets being those of Japan and the United States. In May 2008, global cumulative Prius sales reached the milestone 1 million vehicle mark, the 2 million milestone was reached in September 2010, and as of October 2012, a total of 2.8 million Prii have been sold worldwide. Cumulative sales of 1 million Prii were achieved in the U.S. by early April 2011, and Japan reached the 1 million mark in August 2011. Since its launch in 2009, the third-generation Prius sold more than 1 million units worldwide by September 2011.
In 2011, Toyota expanded the Prius family to include the Prius v, an extended hatchback wagon, and the Prius c, a subcompact hatchback. The production version of the Prius plug-in hybrid was released in 2012. The Prius family reached global cumulative sales of 3.3 million units through October 2012, representing 71.5% of Toyota Motor Company hybrid sales of 4.6 million Lexus and Toyota units sold worldwide since 1997.
In February 2011, Toyota asked the public to decide on what the most proper plural form of Prius should be, with choices including Prien, Prii, Prium, Prius, or Priuses. The company said it would "use the most popular choice in its advertising" and on February 20 announced that "Prii" was the most popular choice, and the new official plural designation. In Latin prius is the neuter singular of the comparative form (prior, prior, prius) of an adjective with only comparative and superlative (the superlative being primus, prima, primum), consequently, like all 3rd declension words, the plural in Latin was priora (cf. Latin declension) which was used by the Lada Priora in 2007.
Beginning in September 2011, Toyota USA began using the following names to differentiate the original Prius from some newer members of the Prius family: the standard Prius became the Prius Liftback, the Prius v (known as the Prius α in Japan, and Prius + in Europe), the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the Prius c (called Toyota Aqua in Japan).
|Assembly||Takaoka, later Toyota City (Motomachi), Japan|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
In 1995, Toyota debuted a hybrid concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show, with testing following a year later. The first Prius, model NHW10, went on sale on December 10, 1997. It was available only in Japan, though it has been imported privately to at least the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The first generation Prius, at its launch, became the world's first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car. The NHW10 Prius styling originated from California designers, who were selected over competing designs from other Toyota design studios.
In the United States, the NHW11 was the first Prius to be sold. The Prius was marketed between the smaller Corolla and the larger Camry. The published retail price of the car was US$19,995. The NHW11 Prius became more powerful partly to satisfy the higher speeds and longer distances that Americans drive. Air conditioning and electric power steering were standard equipment. The vehicle was the second mass-produced hybrid on the American market, after the two-seat Honda Insight. While the larger Prius could seat five, its battery pack restricted cargo space.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) classified the car with an air pollution score of 3 out of 10 as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV). Prius owners were eligible for up to a US$2,000 federal tax deduction from their gross income. They could also get a bumper sticker that let a person drive by there self in the HOV lane and park for free in parking spots In contrast with the NW10, Toyota executives stated that the company broke even financially on sales of the NHW11 Prius.
European sales began in September 2000. The official launch of the Prius in Australia occurred at the October 2001 Sydney Motor Show, although sales were slow until the NHW20 (XW20) model arrived.
|Assembly||Tsutsumi, Japan (Toyota City)|
Kariya, Aichi, Japan (Fujimatsu)
Changchun, Jilin, China
In 2003 (for the 2004 US model year) the Prius was completely redesigned as a mid-size liftback, sized between the Corolla and the Camry, with redistributed mechanical and interior space significantly increasing rear-seat legroom and luggage room. The new Prius is even more environmentally friendly than the previous model (according to the EPA), and is 6 inches (150 mm) longer than the previous version. Its more aerodynamic Kammback body balances length and wind resistance, resulting in Cd=0.26. The development effort, led by chief engineer Shigeyuki Hori, led to 530 patents for the vehicle.
The Prius uses an all-electric A/C compressor for cooling, an industry first. Combined with a smaller and lighter NiMH battery, the XW20 is more powerful and more efficient than the XW10. In the U.S., the battery pack of 2004 and later models is warranted for 150,000 miles (240,000 km) or 10 years in states that have adopted the stricter California emissions control standards, and 100,000 miles (160,000 km) or 8 years elsewhere. The warranty for hybrid components is 100,000 miles (160,000 km) or 8 years.
From 2005 to 2009, the second generation Prius had been built by FAW-Toyota in the city of Changchun for the Chinese market. It was reported that a total of 2,152 Priuses were sold in 2006 and 414 in 2007. The relatively low sales was blamed on high price, about US$15,000 higher than the equivalent in Japan or the U.S., caused by high duties on imported parts. In early March 2008, Toyota cut the price of Prius by up to eight percent or US$3,000 to CN¥ 259,800 (US$36,500). It was thought that the sales dropped as a result of both a lack of acceptance and increased competition. The Honda Civic Hybrid was exported to China from 2007.
U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash testing of the 2004 US model year Prius yielded a five-star driver and four-star passenger rating in the frontal-collision test (out of five stars). Side crash results were four out of five stars for both front and rear seats. The car scored four out of five stars in rollover testing.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests score the Prius Good overall in frontal collisions and Good overall in side-impact collisions in models equipped with side airbags. A Poor score is given to models without side airbags. Side curtain and torso airbags became standard on 2007 American models.
|Assembly||Tsutsumi, Japan (Toyota City)|
Chachoengsao, Thailand (December 2010-present)
Changchun, Jilin, China
|Body style||5-door liftback|
Toyota debuted the new Prius (2010 US model year) at the January 2009 North American International Auto Show, and sales began in Japan on May 18, 2009. Toyota cut the price of the Prius from ¥2.331 million to ¥2.05 million to better compete with the Honda Insight, leading some to wonder whether increased sales of the Prius might come at the expense of sales of other vehicles with higher margins. Competition from lower priced hybrids, such as the Honda Insight, also made it difficult for Toyota to capitalize on the Prius's success. Its new body design is more aerodynamic, with the coefficient of drag reduced to Cd=0.25. This figure is disputed by General Motors which found the value for the model with 17" wheels to be around 0.30 based on tests in GM, Ford, and Chrysler wind tunnels. An underbody rear fin helps stabilize the vehicle at higher speeds
The estimated fuel-efficiency rating, using the U.S. EPA combined cycle, is 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp). The Prius was the most efficient car powered by liquid fuel available in the U.S. in 2009, based on the official rating. Only the first-generation Honda Insight (2000–2006) equipped with a manual transmission attained a lower fuel consumption rate. The official UK fuel efficiency data for the Prius T3 is Urban 72.4 mpg-imp (3.90 L/100 km; 60.3 mpg-US), Extra Urban 76.4 mpg-imp (3.70 L/100 km; 63.6 mpg-US), Combined 72.4 mpg-imp (3.90 L/100 km; 60.3 mpg-US).
The 1.8-liter gasoline engine (previously 1.5 liters) generates 98 hp (73 kW), and with the added power of the electric motor generates a total of 134 hp (100 kW) (previously 110 hp/82 kW). The larger engine displacement allows for increased torque, reducing engine speeds (RPM), which improves fuel economy at highway speeds. Thanks to its electric water pump, the Prius engine is the first consumer automotive production engine that requires no accessory belts, which also further improves its fuel economy. The electric motors and other components of the hybrid powertrain are also smaller and more efficient than the industry average. Toyota estimates the new inverter, motor and transaxle are 20 percent lighter. Disc brakes replace the previous rear drum brakes.
In constructing the Prius, Toyota used a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics, made out of cellulose derived from wood or grass instead of petroleum. The two principal crops used are kenaf and ramie. Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra; ramie, commonly known as China grass, is a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax. Toyota says this is a particularly timely breakthrough for plant-based eco-plastics because 2009 is the United Nations’ International Year of Natural Fibres, which spotlights kenaf and ramie among others.
The IIHS rated the 2010 Prius as Good except for side-impact "structure/safety cage", which was rated Acceptable. In EuroNCAP testing, the Prius was given an overall rating of five out of five stars, and rated 88 percent for adult occupant protection, 82 percent for child occupant, 68 percent for pedestrian, and 86 percent for safety assist.
In mid 2011 (for the 2012 model year), the third-generation Prius Liftback received modest style and equipment changes. The exterior changes include updated headlamps, revised tail lamps, plus a distinctive front fascia and bumper, and the deletion of the "Super White" color option in the United States. Prospective American Prius buyers wanting a white exterior must either choose the "Blizzard Pearl" color (a glittery off-white) for an additional $220, or choose another make or model. The Prius can be equipped with an updated infotainment system featuring the optional Toyota Entune suite of connectivity features. Other updates include a 6.1-inch touch-screen, an AM/FM CD player unit, a USB port for iPod connectivity, an auxiliary input jack, a Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and streaming audio. The Prius also includes a solar panel on the roof of the car, which can only provide enough power to run the ventilation fan while the car is parked, to keep the interior cooler in sunny warm conditions. For the U.S. market only the Prius Two, Three, Four and Five were offered. The premium Prius Five model's Advanced Technology Package includes the Premium HDD Navigation System, plus the Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System and Lane Keep Assist. The Pre-Collision System retracts the front seatbelts and applies the brakes in certain conditions when it determines that a crash is unavoidable. Lane Keep Assist can help the driver stay within the lane. The U.S. 2012 model year includes Toyota's Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS), which is designed to alert pedestrians, the blind, and others of the vehicle's presence due to significant noise reduction typical of a hybrid vehicle traveling at low speeds in all-electric mode.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid (ZVW35) is based on the conventional third generation (ZVW30) with a 4.4-kWh lithium-ion battery that allows an all-electric range of 23 km (14.3 mi). A global demonstration program involving 600 pre-production test cars began in late 2009 and took place in Japan, Europe, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
The production version was unveiled at the September 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Deliveries began in Japan in late January 2012, followed by a limited roll-out in the U.S. in late February. Toyota announced that initially it expects to sell 15,000 units a year in the US. Deliveries began in Europe in June 2012 and in the UK in August 2012.
At the January 2011 North American International Auto Show, Toyota revealed the 2012 model year Prius v, an extended hatchback wagon, which is derived from the third-generation Prius and features over 50 percent more interior cargo space than the original Prius design.
In May 2011 Toyota introduced the Prius α (alpha) in Japan, which is available in a five-seat, two-row model and a seven-seat, three-row model, the latter’s third row enabled by a space-saving lithium-ion drive battery in the center console. The five-seat model uses a NiMH battery pack. The Alpha is the basis for the five-seat Prius v launched in North America in October 2011 with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack similar to the 2010 model year Prius, and with two rows of seats to accommodate five passengers. The European and Japanese versions are offered with a lithium-ion battery, with three rows of seats with accommodations for seven passengers. The European version, named Prius+ (plus), began deliveries in June 2012.
Toyota unveiled the Prius c concept at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show. The Prius c has a lower list price and is smaller than the current Prius hatchback. The production version was unveiled at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show as the Toyota Aqua, and was launched in Japan in December 2011. The Prius c was released in the US and Canada in March 2012, and in April 2012 in Australia and New Zealand. Initial demand has been high both in Japan and the United States, and the Aqua/Prius c is expected to be in short supply until Toyota is able to increase production capacity. The Prius c will not be available in Europe, instead, Toyota is selling the Toyota Yaris Hybrid since June 2012. The Prius c and the Yaris Hybrid share the same powertrain.
The Prius is sold in almost 80 countries and regions; its largest markets are the United States, Japan, and Europe. In May 2008, Toyota announced that its worldwide cumulative sales of the Prius had passed the 1 million mark, and exceeded 2 million units in September 2010. Global sales of all Prius family vehicles totaled 3.3 million units from 1997 through October 2012, including 2.8 million Prius Liftbacks, 224 thousand Prius v/α, 259.7 thousand Aqua/Prius c and 21.6 thousand Prius Plug-in Hybrids. Prius family vehicle sales accounted for 71.5% of Toyota Motor Company (TMC) worldwide volume of 4.6 million hybrids through October 2012, including the Lexus brand.
As of April 2011, the U.S. accounted for almost half of Prius global sales, with one million Prii sold since 2000. However, the Prius experienced two consecutive years of sales decreases from its peak in 2007, falling to 139,682 units in 2009 before rebounding to 140,928 units in 2010. Sales in Japan reached 1 million Prii in August 2011.
Cumulative Prius sales in Europe reach 100,000 in 2008 and 200,000 units by mid 2010, after 10 years on that market. The U.K. is one of the leading European markets for Prius, accounting more than 20 percent of all Prii sold in Europe. Toyota Prius became Japan's best selling vehicle in 2009 for the first time since its debut in 1997 as its sales almost tripled to 208,876 in 2009. In that year it overtook the Honda Fit, which was Japan's best-selling car in 2008 excluding Kei cars.
Rising oil prices caused by the Arab Spring led to increased sales of the Prius in the first quarter of 2011, but the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami led to a production stoppage. Production restarted several days later, but output was hindered due to shortages from parts suppliers. Nevertheless, during the 2011 Japanese fiscal year (April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012), the Prius family sold 310,484 units, including sales of the Prius α, launched in May 2011, and the Toyota Aqua, launched in December, allowing the Prius brand to become the best-selling vehicle in Japan for the third-consecutive year. Until September 2012, The Prius liftback was the top selling new car in Japan for 16 months in a row, until it was surpassed by the Toyota Aqua in October 2012.
|Annual Prius liftback sales worldwide and by region|
|Notes: NA: data not available.|
(1) CYTD: Calendar year to date sales, as of October 31, 2012. Europe through September 30, 2012.
(2) Year total not available. Cumulative and 2010 sales only through September 2010.
(3) For 2011 and 2012 Toyota reported sales of regular Prius and Prius α together. A total of 167,200 Prius α were sold in
Japan since May 2011 through October 2012, and are included in the year total but not in the cumulative total for Japan.
High gasoline prices in the U.S., approaching US$4 a gallon by March 2012, contributed to record monthly sales of the Prius family vehicles. A total of 28,711 units were sold in the United States during March 2012, becoming the one-month record for Prius sales ever. The third-generation Prius liftback accounted for 18,008 units (62.7%); the Prius v accounted for 4,937 units (17.2%); the Prius c, for 4,875 units (17.0%); and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, for 891 units (3.1%). Another record was set during the first-quarter of 2012, with Prius family sales of 60,859 units, it became the best selling quarter ever. Sales of Prius family vehicles in California represented 25% of all Prii purchases in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2012. With 46,380 units sold during this period, the Prius family became the best selling vehicle line in California, ahead of the Honda Civic (43,143 units) and the Honda Accord (39,027 units).
Prius family sales also set a record in Japan in March 2012. Accounting for the conventional Prius and Prius α sales, a total of 45,496 units were sold in March 2012, becoming the highest monthly sales ever for any model in Japan since 1997, and representing a market share of 9% of all new car registrations excluding kei cars. The Toyota Aqua sold 29,156 units, ranking as the third top selling car that month. Together, all Prius family vehicles sold 74,652 units, representing 15% of monthly new car sales in March 2012. With a total of 247,230 vehicles sold during the first quarter of 2012, the Toyota Prius family became the third top selling nameplate in the world in terms of total global sales, after the Toyota Corolla (300,800 units) and the Ford Focus (277,000 units).
The following table presents retail sales of the other vehicles of the Prius family for the four top selling national markets by year since deliveries began in 2011.
|Annual sales of other Prius family vehicles in the four top selling markets|
between 2011 and 2012 CYTD(1)
through October 2012
|Notes: (1) CYTD: Calendar year to date sales, as of October 31, 2012, with European Sales through September 2012.|
(2) For 2011 and 2012 Toyota is reporting sales of regular Prius and Prius α together.
(3) NA: The Prius c is not be available in Europe, instead, Toyota is selling the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, with 14,039 units
sold through September 2012. The Yaris Hybrid uses the same powertrain as the Prius c.
The Prius is a power-split or series-parallel (full) hybrid, sometimes referred to as a combined hybrid, a vehicle that can be propelled by gasoline and/or electric power. Wind resistance is reduced by a drag coefficient of 0.25 (0.29 for 2000 model) with a Kammback design to reduce air resistance. Lower rolling-resistance tires are used to reduce road friction. An electric water pump eliminates serpentine belts. In the U.S. and Canada, a vacuum flask is used to store hot coolant when the vehicle is powered off for reuse so as to reduce warm-up time. The Prius engine makes use of the Atkinson cycle.
When the vehicle is turned on with the "Power" button, it is ready to drive immediately with the electric motor, while electric pumps warm the engine with previously saved hot engine coolant before the internal combustion engine is started. The delay between powering the car on and starting the internal combustion engine is approximately seven seconds. A button labelled "EV" maintains Electric Vehicle mode after being powered on and under most low-load conditions at less than 25 mph (40 km/h). This permits driving with low noise and no fuel consumption for journeys under 1 mile (1.6 km). The car automatically reverts to normal mode if the battery becomes exhausted. Prior to the 2010 model, the North American model did not have the "EV" button, although the "EV" mode is still supported internally by the Prius Hybrid Vehicle management computer.
There are two principal battery packs, the High Voltage (HV) battery, also known as the traction battery, and a 12 volt battery known as the Low Voltage (LV) battery. The traction battery is a sealed 38-module nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack providing 273.6 volts, 6.5 A·h capacity and weighing 53.3 kg (118 lb) is supplied by Japan's Panasonic EV Energy Co. They are normally charged between 40–60% of maximum capacity to prolong battery life as well as allow headroom for regenerative braking. Each battery pack uses 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) of lanthanum, and each Prius electric motor contains 1 kg (2 lb) of neodymium; production of the car is described as "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world." The LV battery is essential to starting the car, providing initial power to the computer.
As the Prius reached ten years of being available in the U.S. market, in February 2011 Consumer Reports decided to look at the lifetime of the Prius battery and the cost to replace it. The magazine tested a 2002 Toyota Prius with over 200,000 miles on it, and compared the results to the nearly identical 2001 Prius with 2,000 miles tested by Consumer Reports 10 years before. The comparison showed little difference in performance when tested for fuel economy and acceleration. Overall fuel economy of the 2001 model was 40.6 miles per US gallon (5.79 L/100 km; 48.8 mpg-imp) while the 2002 Prius with high mileage delivered 40.4 miles per US gallon (5.82 L/100 km; 48.5 mpg-imp). The magazine concluded that the effectiveness of the battery has not degraded over the long run. The cost of replacing the battery varies between US$2,200 and US$2,600 from a Toyota dealer, but low-use units from salvage yards are available for around US$500. One piece of research indicates it may be worthwhile to rebuild batteries using good blades from defective used batteries.
Since its inception, the Toyota Prius has been among the best fuel economy vehicles available in the United States, and for the model year 2012, the Prius family has three models among the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars sold in the country as rated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After the Honda Insight first generation was discontinued in September 2006, the Prius liftback became the most fuel-efficient car sold in the American market, until it was topped by the Chevrolet Volt in December 2010, as the plug-in hybrid was rated by EPA with an overall combined city/highway gasoline-electricity fuel economy of 60 mpg-US (3.9 L/100 km; 72 mpg-imp) equivalent (MPG-e). According to the EPA, for the model year 2012, and when only gasoline-powered vehicles are considered (excluding all-electric cars), the Prius c ranks as the most fuel-efficient compact car, the Prius liftback as the most fuel-efficient midsize car, and the Prius v as the most fuel-efficient midsize station wagon.
|Prius 1st gen (NHW11)||2001 - 2003||42 mpg-US (5.6 L/100 km)||41 mpg-US (5.7 L/100 km)||217 (135 g/km)||na||8.0|
|Prius 2nd gen (XW20)||2004 - 2009||48 mpg-US (4.9 L/100 km)||45 mpg-US (5.2 L/100 km)||193 (120 g/km)||9/7|
|Prius 3rd gen (XW30)||2010 - 2012||51 mpg-US (4.6 L/100 km)||48 mpg-US (4.9 L/100 km)||178 (111 g/km)||9/7|
|Prius v (ZVW41)||2012||44 mpg-US (5.3 L/100 km)||40 mpg-US (5.9 L/100 km)||212 (132 g/km)||8/7|
|Prius c (NHP10)||2012||53 mpg-US (4.4 L/100 km)||46 mpg-US (5.1 L/100 km)||178 (111 g/km)||NA||6.6|
|Prius Plug-in Hybrid|
in EV mode
|133 (82 g/km)||All-electric range|
|95 mpg-e (2.5 L/100 km)||50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km)||11 mi (18 km)|
|Source: U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency All ratings correspond to EPA 5-cycle testing procedure (2008 and beyond).|
Note: (1) First score is for California and Northeastern states, the second score is for the other states and D.C. Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) is a U.S. classification for conventionally powered vehicles designed to produce minimal emissions of certain categories of air pollution.
The following table presents fuel economy performance and carbon emissions for all Prius family models sold in Japan since 1997. The ratings are presented for both, the current official 10-15 mode cycle test and the new JC08 test designed for Japan’s new standards that goes into effect in 2015, but it is already being by several car manufacturers for new cars. The Prius 2nd generation became the first car to meet Japan’s new 2015 Fuel Economy Standards measured under the JC08 test.
10-15 Mode Test
(km per litre)
(km per litre)
(grams per km CO2)
10-15 Mode Test
(grams per km CO2)
|Prius 1st gen (NHW10)||1997 - 2001||28 km/L (66 mpg-US)||na||na||na|
|Prius 1st gen (NHW11)||2001 - 2003||29 km/L (68 mpg-US)||na||na||na|
|Prius 2nd gen (XW20)||2004 - 2009||35.5 km/L (84 mpg-US)||29.6 km/L (70 mpg-US)||65||78|
|Prius 3rd gen (XW30)||2010 - 2012||38 km/L (89 mpg-US)||32.6 km/L (77 mpg-US)||61||71|
|Prius α (ZVW40)||2011||31 km/L (73 mpg-US)||26.2 km/L (62 mpg-US)||75||89|
|Toyota Aqua (NHP10)||2012||40 km/L (94 mpg-US)||35.4 km/L (83 mpg-US)||na||na|
|Prius Plug-in Hybrid|
in EV mode
(grams per km CO2)
|61 km/L (140 mpg-US)||31.6 km/L (74 mpg-US)||26.4 km (16.4 mi)||38|
In 2008 the British government and British media have requested that Toyota release detailed figures for the energy use and CO2 emissions resulting from the building and disposal of the Prius. Toyota has not supplied the requested data details to address statements that the lifetime energy usage of the Prius (including the increased environmental cost of manufacture and disposal of the nickel-metal hydride battery) is outweighed by lower lifetime fuel consumption. Toyota states that lifetime CO2 saving is 43 percent. As of 2010, the UK Government Car Service runs over 100 Prii, the largest part of its fleet and lists the Prius as having the lowest CO2 emissions among its fleet.
CNW Marketing Research initially published a study in which they estimated that the total lifetime energy cost of a 2005 Prius was greater than that of a Hummer. The study is widely cited, but its contents have also been widely dubunked: see for example "Hummer versus Prius: 'Dust to Dust' Report Misleads the Media and Public with Bad Science".
The Prius uses electric motors in the hybrid propulsion systems, powered by a high voltage battery in the rear of the car. There has been some public concern over whether the levels of electromagnetic field exposure within the cabin are higher than comparable cars, and what health effects those fields may present, popularized by a 2008 The New York Times article. However, Toyota and several independent studies have indicated that aside from a brief spike when accelerating, the electromagnetic fields within the Prius are no different from those of a conventional car and do not exceed the ICNIRP exposure guidelines.
The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2007 on concerns that quiet cars like the Prius may pose a safety risk to those who rely on engine noise to sense the presence or location of moving vehicles. Blind pedestrians are a primary concern, and the National Federation of the Blind advocates audio emitters on hybrid vehicles, but it has been argued that increased risks may also affect sighted pedestrians or bicyclists who are accustomed to aural cues from vehicles. However, silent vehicles are already relatively common, and there is also a lack of aural cues from vehicles that have a conventional internal combustion engine where engine noise has been reduced by noise-absorbing materials in the engine bay and noise-canceling muffler systems. In July 2007, a spokesman for Toyota said the company is aware of the issue and is studying options.
In 2010, Toyota released a device for the third-generation Prius meant to alert pedestrians of its proximity. Japan issued guidelines for such warning devices in January 2010 and the U.S. approved legislation on December 2010. Models equipped with automatically activated systems include all 2012 model year Prius family vehicles that have been introduced in the United States, including the standard Prius, the Prius v, the Prius c and soon to be introduced Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority, an independent body charged with policing the rules of the advertising industry, ruled that a television advert for the Toyota Prius should not be broadcast again in the same form, having breached rules concerning misleading advertising. The advertisement stated that the Prius "emits up to one tonne less CO2 per year", while on-screen text included "1 tonne of CO2 less than an equivalent family vehicle with a diesel engine. Average calculated on 20,000 km a year." Points of contention were the vehicles chosen for comparison, whether "'up to' one tonne less" adequately communicated that reductions could be lower, and whether the distance used was appropriate: 20,000 km per year is around a U.S. car's average annual driving distance, while a UK car's is 13,440 km.
The large number of Prius-owning progressive celebrities in 2002 prompted the Washington Post to dub hybrids "Hollywood's latest politically correct status symbol". Conservatives called "Prius Patriots" also drive the cars because they want to contribute to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. A 2007 San Francisco Chronicle article said "Prius Progressives" were becoming an archetype, with American conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh opining that "these liberals think they're ahead of the game on these things, and they're just suckers".
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. Shortly afterwards Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson coined the term "Prius politics" to describe a situation where the driver's desire to "show off" is a stronger motivator than the desire to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Some conservatives promote use of the Toyota Prius and other hybrid cars. For example, Jim Road from What Would Jesus Drive? encouraged people to drive hybrid cars because of the damage that large SUVs and faster cars can do to others.
Former Central Intelligence Agency chief R. James Woolsey, Jr. drives a Prius because of its low fuel consumption. Woolsey noted the volatility of the Middle East, coupled with anti-U.S. sentiment in much of the region. Noting that the high percentage of oil drilled in the Middle East gives vast profits to Middle Eastern regimes, Woolsey believes that it is a patriotic obligation to drive more efficient vehicles. In a Motor Trend magazine article, Woolsey stated that those oil profits find their way to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, meaning that Americans who buy inefficient vehicles would, in effect, be indirectly funding terrorism. "We're paying for both sides in this war, and that's not a good long-term strategy", said Woolsey. "I have a bumper sticker on the back of my Prius that reads, 'Bin Laden hates this car.'"
There have been a number of governments with incentives intended to encourage hybrid car sales. In some countries, including the U.S. and Canada, some rebate incentives have been exhausted, while other countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands have various or alternative incentives to purchasing a hybrid vehicle.
Several U.S. companies offer employees incentives. Bank of America will reimburse US$3,000 on the purchase of new hybrid vehicles to full- and part-time associates working more than 20 hours per week. Google, software company Hyperion Solutions, and organic food and drink producer Clif Bar & Co[broken footnote] offer employees a US$5,000 credit toward their purchase of certain hybrid vehicles including the Prius. Integrated Archive Systems, a Palo Alto IT company, offers a US$10,000 subsidy toward the purchase of hybrid vehicles to full-time employees employed more than one year.[broken footnote]
Travelers Companies, a large insurance company, offers hybrid owners a 10% discount on auto insurance in most U.S. states. The Farmers Insurance Group offers a similar discount of up to 10% in most U.S. states.[broken footnote]
|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Toyota Prius driving tricks|
|Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Toyota Prius FAQ|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Toyota Prius|
|« previous — Toyota road car timeline, North American market, 1980s–present (model years)|
|Starlet||Corolla FX||Prius c|
|Cressida||Cressida||Cressida||Cressida||Camry Solara||Camry Solara||Prius v|
|Sport compact||Corolla GT-S||Toyota 86|
|Sports||Celica Supra||Celica Supra||Supra||Supra|