Toyota's Prius Gamble Pays Off As Carmaker Becomes Trendsetter

Executives at GM, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler derided the hybrids as money-losers and lagged in producing their own models. Toyota pressed ahead, and its resulting hybrids -- the Prius, the Highlander SUV and Lexus RX400h, as well as a half-dozen other hybrid models sold only in Japan -- now dominate the market, accounting for about 80 percent of U.S. hybrid sales. PHOTO: EVWorld.Com

Published: 27-Apr-2006

Toyota City, Japan -- Satoshi Ogiso doesn't look or act like a brash automobile executive. With an ill-fitting suit and spiky hairdo, his hands flutter bashfully across his face as he talks of "difficulties," "challenges" and "problems."

The 45-year-old engineer refuses to brag about his accomplishments. But as chief engineer of the hybrid Prius, Ogiso has helped Toyota revolutionize the auto industry.

By making huge long-term investments in gas-saving technologies that U.S. automakers pooh-poohed, Toyota has proved that corporate environmental consciousness can be wildly profitable.


2006 model introduces slight styling changes, additional safety equipment and added amenity options including leather seats.

Toyota engineers demonstrated the steering controls in the 180-kg unit, which can reach speeds of up to 50 kph.

By the end of October, the largest Japanese automaker said, its worldwide hybrid vehicle sales totaled about 513,000 units.


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