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Hybrid Car Named 'Car of the Year'

Hybrid Car Named 'Car of the Year'

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Keith McCord ReportingMotorTrend Magazine named its annual "Car of the Year" today. It's the Toyota "Prius", and what makes this car different from previous winners is that it's a "hybrid", meaning it's both electric and gasoline powered

Because of the Motor Trend Magazine Honor, Toyota dealers expect sales to jump in the weeks ahead.

Lance Barraclough, Sales Manager, Larry H. Miller Toyota: "Oh absolutely. People wait for information like this to hit the market, and I think it'll definitely create a higher level of interest for most people."

The magazine calls the Prius a "capable, comfortable, fun-to-drive car..." But it really wins because it gets 50 to 60 miles per gallon and is priced less than 24-thousand dollars.

This is the a second generation Prius. The first one came out in 2001; this particular model has been out two to three months. KSL drove one of the early models back in 2001 when the car was displayed at an auto technology conference at Weber State.

The body style has changed, but the basic idea --a combination electric and gasoline engine-- is the same.

At slower speeds, an electric motor provides the power. When you accelerate, the gasoline motor kicks in. The display panel shows when the gas motor is re-charging the batteries.

The Prius has all the typical features, but there's no ignition key. To start the engine all you do is push a button. But they do give you something to lock and unlock the doors. You put the key fob in your pocket, and you walk up to the door. It's locked. It'll sense that you're there, unlock the door. You get in, press the power button, and you're on your way.

Will this hybrid car catch on? Based on customer waiting lists, it already has!

Lance Barraclough, Sales Manager, Larry H. Miller Toyota "Right now, two to three months average out from the time you put your order in to the time you take delivery on one."

And Toyota has more hybrids to come. In the three to four months an SUV version will be at the dealers.

Toyota expects to sell about 35-thousand of the Prius models during the coming year.

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