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Toyota: Hybrid drivers want to stand out
Carmaker's study finds that owners want others to know they're driving fuel-efficient cars.
July 25, 2005: 5:35 PM EDT
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Toyota Motor Co. may give some of its hybrid cars a higher profile, according to a published report.

USA Today reports that Toyota (Research) is looking at new designs for rear tailgate badging and front and sides for the hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX330 SUVs. The current hybrid versions of those vehicles look almost identical to the gasoline powered models. The hybrid Lexus is called the RX400h, denoting the fuel efficient gas and electric engine. Under the hybrid Highlander's rear badge is a tiny plate with "Hybrid Synergy Drive."

Toyota said its initial research showed potential customers didn't want to stick out just because they were driving a hybrid, Lexus spokesman Bill Ussery told the paper. But feedback from customers since the vehicles went on sale earlier this spring convinced Toyota that the hybrid buyers want some greater visibility to the fact they are driving a more fuel efficient vehicle.

Toyota's best-selling hybrid, the Prius, does not have a gasoline-only powered version so it stands out as a hybrid more easily.

The paper reported that Honda Motor (Research), which has a hybrid version of its Civic and Accord sedans, does not plan on calling any greater attention to its hybrid versions of those vehicles, nor does Ford Motor Co. (Research), which has hybrid versions of its Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs.

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