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Wirecutter Names Toyota Prius Best Hybrid; SAFE Seeks Energy Security Prize Applications

In-depth piece by The Wirecutter puts Toyota Prius on top of hybrid pile. BYD reveals electric coach with 190-mile range. SAFE accepting 2015 Energy Security Prize applications. New study looks at low-carbon gas for greenhouse gas reductions.

Overall Sales Impressive, Despite Recent US Slowdown

You take your victories where you can. In Toyota's case, that means disclosing the cumulative total of hybrid sales since the first Prius was sold in Japan in 1997. And that number is impressive.

We've been hearing rumors about the next generation of the Toyota Prius for the last couple of years on a pretty regular basis. From the expectation of lithium-ion battery packs with more capacity for electric-only miles to wireless charging and more emotional styling, there's been no shortage of talking points for the car that's expected to see its first light of day at the very end of 2015 (we hope). But one thing we've yet to hear about, until now that is, is all-wheel drive.

Keeping up its from-all-angles approach to efficiency, Toyota has found yet another way to eke out up to ten percent more precious MPGs in its hybrid vehicles, this time electronically. The automaker has announced the development of new silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors for use in power control units, which it will begin testing on Japanese roads within the next year.

The Toyota Prius is the world's most popular hybrid vehicle, but it may take domestic production capabilities for the model to achieve a high level of popularity in China. Japan-based Toyota is aiming to produce an increasing percentage of Prius components in China in order to bring down its price there, Bloomberg News reports. Eventually, the goal is to make all Priuses sold in China in that country in order to avoid the steep 25-percent import tariff.

About one in every nine new cars in the US are sold in the California. If we're just looking at the four Toyota Prius hybrid variants, then the number becomes closer to one in three. Tesla Model S battery-electric vehicle sales? Try one in 2.7.

Long praised for its fuel economy and reliability, the Toyota Prius has been no stranger to less-than-flattering remarks about its styling and sense of excitement. In fact, the model is a regular movie punchline. For evidence, see Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys or, more recently, Ice Cube in Ride Along.

If nothing has changed, then how come something changed? That's the question behind the recent drop from five to four stars in the crash test rating for the Toyota Prius. As you can see on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, the 2014 Prius gets four stars overall while the 2013 got five. The two cars are basically identical, so what gives?

It's been 16 years since the Toyota Prius launched in Japan. Finally, the world's most popular hybrid is becoming the first hybrid car to show up in Pakistan. This version of the Prius has been customized by Indus Motor Company (IMC) in order to deal with, well, let's just say some challenging road conditions.

The Toyota Prius is the 800-pound gorilla of the hybrid world, and it looks like Toyota wants to keep it that way by holding the line on prices for the world's most popular hybrid. The Japanese automaker is leaving the price of all five trim lines of its standard hatchback Prius unchanged for the 2014, meaning that the price will once again range from $23,215 to $30,005, not including delivery and handling fees.

More than one in every five Prius vehicles sold in the US is sold in California.

Prius fans polled have above-average interest in yoga, sustainability and Apple. As for Model S fans? They're big on economics, Jim Beam, strip clubs and weed.

Toyota Prius owners aren't bad folks. With a few exceptions, they're just normal people who appreciate the comfortable, high-mileage hybrid. Someone in Arlington, Virginia doesn't see it that way, though, as 14 examples (and one Smart) had at least one tire slashed last Sunday night.

A return to the 'plus' column? That's what happened last month to Toyota with its Prius line of hybrids, as the Japanese automaker boosted year-over year sales of the model.

Now if only someone could turn social-media mentions into cold, hard cash. That's what the folks at Toyota may be saying after a report revealed that the Prius gets the most media dollar value – by far – out of any hybrid or plug-in vehicle from social media networks, according to Automotive News, which cites a study from social analytics company GenSent Insights.

For out there who's freaked out that the electromagnetic waves from a hybrid or plug-in vehicle will throw off pacemakers and cause heart attacks, go ahead and breathe easy: that ain't gonna happen.

When almost a quarter-million Americans go out and buy one of the country's most fuel-efficient vehicles, a bunch of them are bound to be from California, right? The answer is yes, they are. USA Today reports that Golden State residents registered 60,688 Toyota Prius hybrids last year, making it the best-selling model in the state.

Fuel efficiency gains for new vehicles sold in the US were in a bit of a holding pattern last month, according to a new report from TrueCar. Fleetwide fuel efficiency for new US light-duty vehicles in September rose 5.5 percent compared to 2011 figures, but remained the same as August 2012 figures.

"Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

It's either a drop in the bucket or a segment with lots of room to grow. Which aspect an advanced-powertrain vehicle advocate chooses depends on how he sees the challenge that hybrids face in the marketplace. Given a new study that once again shows that, after more than ten years on sale, gas-electric models still account for just a small fraction of the global light-duty vehicles made, we're inclined to see it both ways.

Here's a tip for those who market hybrid electric vehicles: you can pretty much forget about people who love to lease – not just the lease itself, but swapping the lease. According to a new survey just released by Swapalease, the majority of respondents declined to pick an answer to the question of what was their dream hybrid.