Hy­brid sales push ison

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

OR­DI­NARY Aus­tralians are the new tar­get for Toy­ota as it looks to lift hy­brid sales. The petrol-elec­tric Camry and Prius were al­most a non-event for pri­vate buy­ers last year, with fewer than 2000 peo­ple choos­ing a hy­brid for per­sonal use. Sales re­sults from VFacts show only 1316 ‘‘pri­vate’’ buy­ers for the Camry last year and 385 for the Prius. The cars were more pop­u­lar with gov­ern­ments and fleets, but the to­tal num­ber of Toy­ota hy­brids to hit the road last year was only 8444. Prius sales dipped from 3040 in 2009 to 1611 last year as Toy­ota pushed the lo­cally made Camry hy­brid. Toy­ota in­tends to drive the busi­ness harder this year as it pre­pares for the two new Prius mod­els ex­pected in 2012.

PAUL GOVER

A greener News fleet, Page 24

Tcom­ing ar­rival of more Prius mod­els for the Toy­ota hy­brid fam­ily is caus­ing a fuss. The prob­lem is that no one knows the plu­ral of Prius, a world orig­i­nally cho­sen in Ja­pan be­cause it meant ‘‘to go be­fore’’.

It’s a Latin word with no pre­vi­ous plu­ral.

In the US, where two new Prius mod­els were pre­viewed at the Detroit auto show, Toy­ota has taken the task to the peo­ple with a mas­sive on­line poll that has drawn hun­dreds of thou­sands of votes.

It nar­rowed the field to five po­ten­tial choices be­fore the start of vot­ing with Prius fans given a choice be­tween Priuses, Prii, Prius, Prien and Prium.

The poll closes on Fe­bru­ary 20 when Toy­ota US will an­nounce the re­sult, as well as lock­ing in a Prius plu­ral for its work on the ex­panded model line-up.

The first new­comer for the range — join­ing the cur­rent Prius and plugin Prius hatches — is a more fam­i­ly­fo­cused peo­ple mover re­vealed as the Prius V at Detroit. (V in this case stands for ver­sa­til­ity, as it also does for Volvo’s wag­ons.)

The next new model is the smaller and slightly sportier Prius C. The Prius V is ex­pected to be in Amer­i­can show­rooms in the sec­ond half of this year, with the Prius C ap­pear­ing in the first half of 2012.

The launch dates point to more Aus­tralian ac­tion in 2012.

The two lead­ing con­tenders in the Prius poll are Prii and Priuses, with Prien run­ning last.

As well as run­ning the Prius vote, Toy­ota US is us­ing the ar­rival of the new mod­els for an un­usual on­line mar­ket­ing cam­paign with a se­ries of short films ‘‘fea­tur­ing a no­table ex­pert ex­plor­ing the et­y­mol­ogy of words’’.

Et­y­mol­ogy is the study of the devel­op­ment of words and the his­tor­i­cal ver­i­fi­ca­tion of their mean­ings.

More than one: Toy­ota pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda (above) in­tro­duces the Prius V mid-size

hy­brid-elec­tric ve­hi­cle in Detroit and (right) the new

Toy­ota Prius C in Detroit.

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