Local News

Hybrid Cars Becoming More Popular In Triangle

Posted May 7, 2004

— Gas prices are nearing record highs, and some people may be considering alternative modes of transportation. Hybrid cars are becoming more popular in the Triangle.

Lucy Grant drove a big car until she had it with dishing out big bucks at the pump. So she turned in her gas guzzler for a new Toyota Prius Hybrid. "This one is a fabulous addition to the pocketbook," she said.

Officials said the car gets 52 miles a gallon in the city and 45 miles a gallon on the highway.

"It just runs quietly, smoothly, and it does its own saving," said Mike Cochrane, general manager of Toyota of Durham.

Toyota's Prius has been out for nearly two years. Only lately has it been made widely available to dealers.

"They're selling pretty quick, at a very rapid pace," Cochrane said. "As the gas goes up, we notice Prius sales go up also."

The car has two engines: an electric one powered by batteries, which are in the trunk, and another that is gas-powered. The car automatically charges the batteries.

"It's a pretty nice-selling car that makes the world a better place," said Mark Jacobson, president of Toyota of Durham.

In addition to the good gas mileage, the federal government will actually pay you to drive the car. The government is offering a $2,000 rebate that you write off on your taxes.

Only Toyota and Honda make hybrid models. Honda's hybrid seats five people.

Toyota hopes to develop hybrid SUVs sometime in the future.

One downside to the Toyota Prius: it's a few thousand dollars more expensive than a similar Corolla model.

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