Toyota will introduce new advertising, incentives for Prius

To many, the Toyota Prius is synonymous with months-long waiting lists. But just as the automaker has stepped up production on its hybrid darling, sales have plateaued. Fearing that the car lacks mainstream appeal, Toyota is training dealers in Prius sweet talk, hyping incentives like low- and no-interest financing, and kick-starting its very first Prius ad campaign. Priuses (Prii?) made up half of U.S. hybrid sales last year. While there are murmurings that competition from other hybrids is hurting sales, Toyota spokesperson Bill Kwong disagrees: “The Prius is like the icon for hybrids. For most people there is no second choice.” But the icon recently slipped off the list of the nation’s 10 fastest-selling vehicles for the first time in over three years, and Toyota hopes to boost U.S. sales by 70 percent in 2007. It may be an uphill battle against revised fuel-economy figures, a reduced federal hybrid credit, lower gas prices, and want-what-I-can’t-haveness — but hey, somebody’s gotta do it.