October 13th, 2008
By Tom Kessler
Just as the iPod has become synonymous with digital music players, Toyota’s Prius is the only car people tend to think of when it comes to hybrid electric vehicles. The Prius alone accounts for 75 percent of the hybrid cars sold in the United States, according to Toyota.
With Honda taking aim at the same market with its redesigned, very Prius-looking Insight, it appears Toyota may try to extend its lead by turning Prius into a line of cars much like its Scion and Lexus brands. The New York Times reports that James E. Lentz III, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., is lobbying Toyota executives in Japan to make the move.
Lentz may well have the clout to pull this off: Americans buy 65 to 70 percent of all Toyota hybrids sold worldwide. The Times says Lentz doesn’t know when Toyota might approve the project but talks will continue next month in Japan.