Wednesday, May 09, 2007

2009 Prius Goes 100 MPGreen

If you haven't heard it anywhere else, then you heard it here first: Your car is probably already a bit past its prime, and I don't just mean that frayed upholstery, that cracked dash, those door dings, not to mention those Burger King wrappers and Starbucks cups stuffed under the seats. You're probably driving OLD technology. Yikes. But get this, members of the 20,000-Plus Club: with the introduction of the 2009 Prius, your old conveyance (even your vintage Prius) will be a DINOSAUR.

How about 100 MPG?

That's right, 100 MPG for a major production car. Welcome to the 3rd generation Prius, coming not so many months from now to a showroom near you, this close on the heels of the 3rd generation Civic hybrid, which with its redesigned 2006 power plant, now tops the Prius in aftermarket consumer tests by 5 MPG on average (51 for the Civic vs. 46 for the Prius).

Already "the world's greenest car company," Honda is in the mix to achieve 100 MPG as well, with an innovative 2008 Fit hybrid that will be way up there in efficiency. In Japan, Honda leads the way with its very popular (there) Insight, which already gets well above 70 MPG. But except for the Miata, roadsters have just never been very popular in the U.S. So Honda will outfit the four-door Fit with a new generation of hybrid technology that is much lighter, smaller AND more profitable for the company, good news since the incentives increase for maker and consumer. The Fit is cutting edge in that its hybrid system is tiny and so less burdensome to the constraints of compact cars, a distinct improvement over Honda's and Toyota's currently "underpowered," battery-heavy, shrunken trunk hybrid technology.

Honda's hybrid Fit unveiling apparently hit Toyota hard, as the Big T wants to keep its aura as the hybrid leader alive and well in the U.S. -- and its juggernaut of record profits soaring. Though Honda was first to market a hybrid, The Prius became the segment leader in 2003.

The second-generation Prius outsells Honda's Civic hybrid by more than three-to-one (2006 sales: 107,000 Prius, 32,000 Civic hybrids). Toyota seems to be correct in insisting that most hybrid car buyers want their cars to look distinctive and to be status (and political) symbols, while Honda says that its own studies show that more Honda buyers prefer a car which does not flag the driver as making a statement on the road. Thus the Civic hybrid, except for distinctive wheels and a subtly placed "hybrid" badge, looks the same as its regular Civic sedan.

Well, as you know, the 2008s are already coming out. So 2009 is not very far away, and this is the hundred mile hurdle that will REALLY change the landscape in car buying, especially if gasoline stays above $3.00 a gallon for many months to come.

There is a $25 million prize for the first production car to get 100 MPG as well. But the accomplishment itself will be worth HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS to the winning brand. And it'll be worth BILLIONS to the well-being of the struggling automobile industry and TRILLIONS to the struggling health of the planet.


At 5/21/2007 7:23 PM, Blogger 1rfruth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5/21/2007 7:26 PM, Blogger 1rfruth said...

I'm not in the market now but it doesn't hurt to dream + should plan ahead anyway the '09 Prius sounds great definitely want to see and here about the
hopefully the Honda will raise the bar and Toyota will have to pull out all the stops just to keep up ...


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