From: Tracy Samilton, NPR Topics: Environment
Published June 29, 2011 08:48 AM

As Rivals Unveil Hybrids, Toyota Boosts Prius

The Prius, Toyota's flagship green vehicle, is facing some stiff competition from other automakers launching their own hybrids, so Toyota is responding by making the Prius its own brand.

Lauren Squires, a resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., has heard all the stereotypes about Prius owners, and she's not a bit defensive about it.


"I don't own Birkenstocks anymore," she says, though she used to. "I do make my own granola."

Squires bought her Prius in 2007, a year Toyota sold more than 181,000 Priuses in the U.S. Car sales of all kinds have dropped since then, but Toyota is still the undisputed king of the hybrid.

In fact, the Prius accounts for more than half of all the hybrid cars sold in the U.S. Squires says her Prius suits her lifestyle just fine — most of the time.

"The only thing ... sometimes I'm lacking on space," she says. "I can't fit my bike inside, which I could fit inside some vehicles."

More space: That's what Americans always seem to crave in their cars.

Toyota's Kirk Forscht says the five-passenger Prius v will appeal to people who have always wanted a Prius, but figured it was just too small.

"They've got two kids, a dog, and all the things that come with that, all the strollers and baggage and bags, and it's a little tight. So the Prius v gives them the option with all this extra cargo space to be able to get all the things they need and still drive a green vehicle," he says.

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