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Toyota Pushing Third-Gen Prius As A Mainstream Vehicle

The third-generation Prius that's rolling out in the U.S. is not just for "some special people," Wahei Hirai, Toyota's managing officer for design, tells Blaine Harden, who reports from Toyota City, Japan. "This is a mainstream car." Toyota executives are careful to point out that they are not "forsaking" environmentalists, but as one spokesman put it, "the objective of the Prius is to get the family to the mall, not to see how far you can go on so many drops of gas."

It's more powerful than its predecessors, has more headroom, a bigger trunk, better gas mileage and a lower price. And last month, it was the best-selling car in Japan.

But the Prius faces tough challenges with gas prices running about $1.50 a gallon lower than last year and sales across the industry plunging. Prius sales in the U.S. in May were down 30.1% from the year before. Meanwhile, Honda is marketing its new hybrid to younger buyers, an audience Prius has had trouble reaching.



Read the whole story at Washington Post »

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