How Did the Toyota Prius Get Its Name?


The Toyota Prius is the world's leading gas-electric hybrid vehicle in 2009, with more units sold than any other comparable automobile on the market. Created by the Japanese company, the Prius is said to be reliable, versatile and eco-friendly. The first Prius was introduced in Japan in 1997, with an improved model launched in the U.S. and world-wide in 2001.


  • The name Prius is derived from a Latin word meaning “to go before” or “before its predecessors.” According to Dan Lee, a technical training manager at Gulf States Toyota, Inc., the executives at Toyota arrived at this name because the Prius hybrid vehicle is to be considered the predecessor of car-model designs in the future. The growing world population along with frequent increases in oil prices and conflicts in the Middle East make this technology efficient and desirable.


  • The Prius is considered the first vehicle of its class to provide not only the cutting-edge hybrid motor technology, but also the space to make it a comfortable car for a family. The Prius prides itself on its aerodynamic design as well as its fuel efficiency and enhanced storage and cargo space, making it a multifunctional vehicle useful for anyone.


  • The Toyota Prius is the first hybrid vehicle to win the Motor Trend Car of The Year award as well as the Best Engineered Vehicle of 2004. This relates to the name and concurs with its definition of being the front-runner and model citizen of hybrid vehicles to come.


  • Staying true to the name and its meaning, the Toyota executives have decided to launch a whole series of hybrid vehicles under the Prius name, stating that while their other hybrid vehicles have done fairly well in the market, everyone is now associating the name Prius with being the pioneer in hybrid fuel economy. They have a name for the transmission system, called Hybrid Synergy Drive, but the name Prius extends the meaning and is also more recognizable by consumers.


  • Because of the definition of Prius suggesting that it is ahead of the times and the predecessor of what’s to come in future hybrid vehicle technology, its original ad campaign in 1997 included the slogan “in time for the 21st century?” poking fun at the fact that the vehicle and its technology are far ahead of current technology and past hybrid vehicles such as the original Honda Insight.

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