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Toyota Celebrates 20 Years Of Making Enthusiasts Cry With The Prius

Hybrid / 14 Comments

The Prius has changed a lot since 1997, but car enthusiasts still hate it.

Even though most car enthusiasts wish that it didn't exist, we cannot deny that the Toyota Prius changed the world. The Prius has now been around for 20 years, and to celebrate Toyota has decided to look back on how the car has changed over the years. Luckily, Toyota hasn't bothered with any 20th anniversary special edition models, because what would be the point of that? Obviously, the Prius had all of the tools to succeed when it was revealed back in 1997, and the car has always had a secret ingredient that has helped it sell.

It's almost impossible to remember a time when the Prius was not a staple of the automotive market. Back in 1997, the Prius won over buyers by being refined, comfortable, and offering better equipment and reliability than its competitors. The original Prius didn't even look too different from a normal car, unlike the new one which looks, let's just say, odd in the spirit of being nice. In 1997, no other car could shut down its gas engine and run with zero emissions. Today, there are many cars that try to compete with the Prius, but none have been able to capture the same market awareness. Toyota has almost been able to do what brands like Kleenex and Q-Tip have done, which is turn their brand name into a generalized term.

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Almost everyone knows what a Prius is, even if they have no idea what it means to be a hybrid car. Toyota helped make hybrid technology popular, and we have seen with cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1 that hybrid technology doesn't always have to be used for efficiency. "When we launched Prius, nobody even knew what a hybrid was," said Takeshi Uchiyamada, the chief enginee of the Prius. "Those who drove it were called geeks or other names. Today, thanks to those early adopters who gave Prius a chance, hybrids have grown in popularity and have ridden a wave of success out of the unknown and into the mainstream."

While we as enthusiasts still haven't learned to appreciate the Prius, we do agree that hybrid technology can have major benefits. Toyota has built over 4 million Prius models to date, making incremental changes to the formula along the way. Even though Toyota hasn't done anything to make the Prius more fun, it continues to sell like crazy to people who simply don't care about cars. That's fine by us, because it makes it that much easier to single out Prius drivers and avoid them when they are driving slowly in the left lane.