Toyota Prius: Worlds Greenest Car

By: Anthony Fontanelle

Switzerland recently hailed the Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius as the world's greenest car, reports Reuters.

The land of breathtaking Alps has named the Japanese automaker's hybrid after the vehicle has recorded the highest green rating in a draft study evaluating the environmental impact of driving around 6,000 different cars, including C02 emissions which contribute to global warming.

The Swiss government said that it hopes that the list, which is still in draft form and could be revised before it is finalized next year, will persuade drivers to buy cars which have the lowest impact on the environment. Additionally, the list could also be used to impose an emissions-related tax on cars. "The goal is to modernize the fleet of cars and to make the use of natural resources as efficient as possible, so that using cars will exert less pressure on the environment," says Adrian Aeschlimann, a spokesman for the Federal Office for the Environment.

The Prius, one of the mass-produced hybrids, was produced for sale in Japan, Europe and North America. The hybrid first arrived in showrooms in Japan in 1997 and around the globe in 2001. By the end of 2003, about 160,000 vehicles had been produced for sale.

The milestone product line of the Japanese automaker is engineered to showcase cutting-edge features which are way incomparable with the and other parts and accessories. It has won several awards to make it noticeable even by celebrities. The Prius has won the Car of the Year Japan accolade in 1997 and 1998, the American Car of the Year in 2004, and the European Car of the Year award in the following year.

The hybrid was rated by the States Environmental Protection Agency's revised fuel economy procedure at 48 mpg in city driving, and 45 mpg on the highway. California Air Resources Board has rated the hybrid as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle.

In the 2000 North American lineup of the automaker, the vehicle was slotted between the Corolla and the Echo. The hybrid was redesigned in 2004 to turn into a midsize hatchback that slot between the Camry and Corolla. The new version of the vehicle was certified as an Advanced Technology Partial zero-emissions vehicle.

The Toyota Prius, equipped with a twinning battery power and a combustion engine, also is considered as one of the most affordable car vehicles in the United States. It also is the best selling hybrid on the road today, though they account for only a fraction of auto sales worldwide.

Switzerland's NZZ am Sonntag newspaper recently published the names of the top 20 and bottom 20 cars. The Swiss government confirmed the names to Reuters.

The list, as reported, includes Fiat's Punto 1.2 Bipower and its Panda 1.2 Bipower, the Daihatsu Cuore and Citroen's C3 1.4i GNV were all in the top five of the draft list, which will be sent to the industry for comments before being finalized. Ford's Transit and Transit 4x4, the Volkswagen's T5 and Peugeot's Boxer were in the bottom five. The Nissan Patrol GR 3.0, meanwhile, got the lowest rating. The said list will be sent to the industry for comments before being finalized. Small cars and other hybrids dominated the top 20 of the list.

The United States accounts for more than half of Toyota's Prius sales. China and U.S are the world's top emitters of CO2, reports Domain -B.

Environmentalists welcomed the Swiss government initiative. "It's great when a national government is behind this, and a list like that will have much more sway and can function as a guideline for the automotive industry," says Juergen Resch at Germany's environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe.

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