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Toyota's New Prius Takes Japan's Car of the Year Award For Another Year




Toyota's new third-generation Prius has just been named the winner of the 30th Japanese Car of the Year award as decided by the powerful Japan Automobile Manufacturer's Association (JAMA).

The announcement came at the opening of the 41st Tokyo International Motor Show.

It is the second time Prius has been named Japanese Car of the Year as the original (first generation) Prius was capped with the award on its debut in 1997-1998.

The third generation petrol electric Prius received 433 votes, defeating its nearest rival - another hybrid car - by a narrow 42 votes: one of the closest finishes on record.

Sixty one journalists and industry representatives voted in a live final tally at the media day for the Tokyo Show.

Third generation Prius has been Japan`s bestselling car for the past five months, according to figures from the Japan Automobile Dealers Association (JADA).

It reached an all time high of 31,758 sales in September, accounting for 10.8 per cent of all automobile sales in Japan for the month, JADA said.

The new third generation Prius has been credited with reinventing the transition of passenger cars from conventional power to hybrid delivery.

The new vehicle was launched in New Zealand in early August.

It features a 21 per cent increase in power, but an 11.3 per cent decrease in fuel use, to just 3.9 litres per 100km emitting just 89g per kilometre of CO2 according to ADR81/02 combined figures.

Combined power from its 1.8 litre petrol engine and electric motor is 100kW.

Toyota New Zealand's General Manager of Sales and Operations, Steve Prangnell said sales of hybrid vehicles globally and in New Zealand are accelerating, with a very successful launch of the new third generation Prius just completed here.

Toyota continues to lead the global development of hybrid technology and its exhibit at this year's Tokyo Motor Show is clear indication of our future commitment to it," he said.

Toyota displayed a range of hybrid and electric vehicles at the Tokyo Show including a plug in version of the new Prius, which will begin an international, 500 units, three year field trial early next year in various countries around the world. In what is seen as a coup for Toyota New Zealand, three of these trial plug in hybrids, which feature a 20 kilometre range on pure electric power at speeds of up to 100 km/h, will be located here in New Zealand where they will be driven on a daily basis in real world conditions with the field data being fed back to Toyota Japan.

Toyota New Zealand will add another hybrid model to its passenger range next year when it launches hybrid Camry, which will be assembled in Melbourne's Altona Plant, Australia with further hybrid models under consideration.