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Prius c New Zealand's Most Affordable Hybrid

Toyota has launched New Zealand's most affordable hybrid car, and the latest member of its successful Prius family, the Prius c.

Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Alistair Davis said, "The expanding Prius family reflects the growing maturity of this technology in the global marketplace and the Prius c sets a new entry point for hybrids in New Zealand."

Starting at $30,990, the Prius c has a recommended retail more than $4,500 less than the best priced rival hybrid car.

"Toyota has made a massive investment in hybrid technology. Globally we're at about 3.6 million hybrids in total," said Mr Davis.

"We started with the second generation Prius in New Zealand, back in 2003. We have then added luxury cars and Camry for a cumulative total of almost 4,000 vehicles. Last year we sold about 950 despite the tsunami - this is around 5 per cent of our total sales."

Hybrid vehicles have gained in popularity since their introduction in the early 2000s. In the last five years, hybrid sales in New Zealand have grown 150 per cent. When compared to a growth of just 25 per cent for passenger diesel vehicles, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of hybrid technology in New Zealand.

The Prius c is expected to expand the appeal of hybrid vehicles to customers who previously could not afford the technology, and those who had previously thought of hybrids as being unappealing. The new model retains all of the hybrid economy and environmental benefits while introducing an exciting package that's fun to drive and own.

Prius c is already very successful in its home market of Japan with Toyota holding orders for more than 120,000 cars - or 10 times the monthly sales target.

The entry level Prius c has a recommended retail price of $30,990 with 15 inch alloy wheels available for an additional $1,000. The top-of-the-line Prius c s-Tech retails for $34,990.