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The key point to hybrid technology is not as "counter-productive" as you'd assume. Hybrid technology (in the form of the Toyota system) proves various technologies that will be necessary when the next great leap occurs and ICEs give way to fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use electric motors and controllers, which are being proven in vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape.

If the demand for gas falls and the supply remains the same, the price will FALL. Currently, the demand for gas is going up which is contributing to the RISING gas prices.
 

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Here's a press release from Toyota. You folks know most of this, but it's here for clarification:

Hybrid Hype? Fact and Fiction Surrounding the New Technology

June 23, 2004 – Torrance, CA – While hybrid vehicles are making history, they're also sparking a lot of mystery. As the public discovers and investigates hybrids, many questions are being asked about the new technology.

Below are some of the questions that have been raised about hybrid vehicles, as well as the answers.

Do hybrids meet their EPA fuel ratings?

The EPA's laboratory fuel mileage tests were initiated more than 25 years ago to provide a means for consumers to make valid fuel-mileage comparisons between vehicles. Posting of mileage numbers on the window sticker is required by law. Auto industry practice has consistently been to use the EPA-provided numbers to assure a level playing field.

However, many things have changed over the past 20 years - speed limits have increased, congestion has increased, and vehicles have more power-hungry accessory equipment, such as automatic climate control, to name a few. The EPA tests are conducted in controlled laboratory conditions, at average speeds of no more than 48 mph, without air conditioning and at moderate temperatures. While this provides consistent and valid comparison data, it is widely accepted that most drivers of all types of vehicles experience lower results than the labels.

Toyota has met with EPA on these issues, and we will work with them to help gather the data needed to evaluate whether label adjustments are necessary considering today's driving patterns and new vehicle technology.

At Toyota, we hear from early Prius customers that many of them average well over 45 miles per gallon in their cars. This is more than double the national average of 20.8 mpg for conventional vehicles. Prius owners are very happy spending less time and less money at the pumps, especially as prices continue to rise, while driving the cleanest gas-powered vehicle on the road.

Do hybrids need to be plugged in?

There is no need to plug in hybrid vehicles. They have electric motors and gasoline engines which work together to provide power. The batteries for the electric motor are re-charged by energy captured as the driver brakes or coasts in the car.

Why doesn't Prius offer a plug in option so it can run in electric-only mode?

Great efforts went into making hybrid cars so they DON'T have to be plugged in. If a car is converted, it will have a negative effect on the life of the batteries and the reality is that it's likely the grid electricity being used is derived from coal, so there's not much savings to the environment. Additionally, the electric-only mode would be good for less than a mile, so the practicality of it is very limited.

Can emergency workers get shocked by a hybrid that's been involved in an accident?

In the Prius, there are numerous safeguards to help ensure safe operation for drivers and protection of emergency response professionals in the event of an accident. High-voltage cables are located away from areas that workers might access, are painted orange, are shrouded in metal and have specific automatic disablement mechanisms to ensure the lines would have no voltage in them if an accident occurs.

Additionally, beginning with the first-generation Prius, Toyota has developed manuals and assisted in training exercises to ensure correct information is disseminated. These manuals are available on-line to all emergency response personnel. Most importantly, Prius hybrids have been on U.S. roads for five years and Toyota is not aware of any personal injury in the U.S. related to hybrid or EV electrical systems.

Aren't diesels just as fuel efficient as hybrids?

While some diesel vehicles get high fuel mileage, it's important to look at emissions when considering a vehicle's impact on the environment. The Prius is 90 percent cleaner for smog-forming emissions than the average vehicle on the road and produces no particulate emissions. Diesel cars are not available for sale in California, New York, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts because they do not comply with even the most lenient emissions requirements in those states. Hybrids can achieve outstanding mileage and have far less emissions at the same time.

Is Ford using the Toyota hybrid system?

Although the Ford hybrid system is very similar to Toyota's, Toyota is not directly supplying any components to Ford. Toyota and Ford have entered into a licensing agreement allowing Ford to use technology that had been patented by Toyota. Toyota welcomes the introduction of the Escape hybrid and Ford's effort to demonstrate and gain acceptance of this important environmental technology.

Have hybrid sales increased because of high fuel prices?

Fuel economy is the No. 1 purchase reason for the Prius, so it's safe to say that rising fuel prices are putting a spotlight on hybrid vehicles. However, it's difficult to conclude that high fuel prices are directly responsible for Prius sales, because there was strong demand and waiting lists well before the rise in gas prices. But awareness of the benefits of hybrids has dramatically increased.

Can you get a Prius?

Toyota's initial production estimates for the Prius for the 2004 calendar year were 36,000 vehicles for the U.S. That number was increased to 47,000 vehicles shortly after the Prius went on sale. The Prius plant and component sources are at maximum capacity, and we regret that waiting lists at dealerships can be several months or longer. The current backorder remains about 22,000 and we're working with the factory in Japan to see if the U.S. can receive more allocation of vehicles.

Are dealers charging a premium over MSRP for the Prius?

Reports of significant markups over MSRP are isolated and not typical. Although the Prius is in high demand, and some buyers are willing to offer more to get faster delivery, our dealers have been respectful of their customers. The MSRP for the Prius runs from the low $20,000s to about $26,000. Our information indicates that the average transaction price for a Prius is about $24,000. In a survey on Yahoo, 7 percent of the owners reported paying more than MSRP and 68 percent paid no more than MSRP. Additionally, only 2 percent of the customers calling Toyota regarding the Prius reported complained about dealer mark ups of the car.

Is Toyota making money on the Prius?

Toyota is in business to make money and this generation Prius will be profitable sooner than the last generation Prius. Economies of scale, especially with the unanticipated volume of the new Prius, will make that happen even earlier than initially projected.

Is there a recycling plan in place for nickel-metal hydride batteries?

Toyota has a comprehensive battery recycling program in place and has been recycling nickel-metal hydride batteries since the RAV4 Electric Vehicle was introduced in 1998. Every part of the battery, from the precious metals to the plastic, plates, steel case and the wiring, is recycled. To ensure that batteries come back to Toyota, each battery has a phone number on it to call for recycling information and dealers are paid a $200 "bounty" for each battery.

Does driving a Prius really lower your cholesterol?

No, but wouldn't it be wonderful? However, it could help lower your blood pressure each time you fill it up.
 
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