Toyota plans to cut price of its hybrids

Aching for a Toyota Prius hybrid, but wilting at the thought of shelling out $3,500 or more over the price of a conventional car? Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe is thinking of you: He’s directed the company’s engineering chief to halve the price difference between a hybrid and its gasoline-only equivalent. Speaking at a briefing on Monday, Watanabe didn’t commit to a timeline, but made it clear that the price slice is a company priority. Since Toyota is a leader in the hybrid market, the move may force other manufacturers to follow suit if they want to remain competitive. One industry analyst says cutting the hybrid premium might double Prius demand — already surging thanks to recent spikes in gas prices and a rising green consciousness.