This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 22, 2003

Toyota Launches U.S. Sales of its New Prius

Toyota Motor Sales officially launched U.S. sales of its new Prius on October 17th. The upgraded hybrid-electric vehicle is not only larger than its predecessor, but also achieves a higher mileage: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the new Prius will achieve 60 miles per gallon (MPG) in the city and 51 MPG on highways, for a combined city/highway mileage of 55 MPG. In contrast, the earlier version earned an estimated combined city/highway mileage of 48 MPG. In terms of emissions, the Prius has earned an AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) rating, which means that it is an SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) with zero evaporative emissions.

Toyota is also holding the line on pricing for the new vehicle, keeping the base MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) at just under $20,000. But it may be awhile before you see one on a dealer's lot: the company has already received nearly 12,000 pre-orders for the new Prius. Toyota currently plans to manufacture 36,000 Prius hybrids for the U.S. market this year.

The new Prius is packed with features to appeal to the technology hound, including drive-by-wire technology for the throttle and shifting systems, an electronically dimming "electrochromic" rear-view mirror, and a keyless entry and start system. See the Toyota Prius Web site.

California drivers may have a new reason to buy a hybrid vehicle: On October 2nd, the State of California requested authority from the Secretary of Transportation to allow hybrid vehicles to drive in the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes, even if they're not carrying a passenger. See the Toyota Prius press releases.