IT HAS inspired the spilling of plenty of bile, with its asthmatic performance and the fact that it seems to have been styled to look like a boot heel, but there’s no denying that Toyota’s Prius has been a world-changing vehicle.
Its looks and slightly nerdy hybrid technology should have made it the shunned kid in the schoolyard from the moment it was launched in 1997. The Japanese loved it, though, and still do, and this emboldened Toyota to take it to the world, and the US in particular.
Initial reviews of its 13-second 0-100km/h performance were not positive in America, but then something remarkable happened.
Many of Hollywood’s richest and coolest celebrities started buying Priuses, partly to look green and planet-friendly, but also because they came with a sticker that let you drive in Los Angeles’ Express Lanes, even if you weren’t carrying any passengers.
Once Americans saw that famous people were driving them, it was all gravy for Toyota.
The Japanese carmaker recently racked up seven million hybrid sales worldwide. The Prius accounts for nearly half that total, with more than 3.36 million now sold. In Japan, hybrids now make up 40 percent of all sales, while globally they’re at 15.2 percent and growing.
The Prius, which is also regularly bought by many of your fellow Australians, takes responsibility for starting all that.
Love it or hate it, you have to at least admire it.
Saving the planet, one slow, quiet and boring drive at a time.
The styling’s still parked a long way from pretty.
Perhaps a postcode away.