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Edmunds Auto Observer has some intriguing details of the much anticipated update to the Prius, Toyota’s iconic and best-selling hybrid which just surpassed 1 million units in sales, a major milestone in the auto biz. First the bad news: no plans as yet for a plug-in model. Now the good news. The third gen is aiming for higher overall mileage — about 50 mpg — in a somewhat larger vehicle with a more powerful engine. As Peter Nunn writes, “… this has all has all the makings of an even bigger hit ” than today’s Prius. Meanwhile, Edmunds’ Bill Visnic posts an update to the eternal “when do hybrids become cost effective?” debate. Answer: with gas at $4 per gallon, much sooner than ever before. The premium for the Toyota Camry Hybrid can be recovered in gas savings in little as 18 months, for the Chevy Malibu hybrid, payback is about 2.7 years. Some models are still hard to justify in these terms:
Owners would have to hang on to GM’s Saturn Aura Greenline hybrid for 16.2 years to recoup their investment in hybrid technology, and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid takes 12 years to return the extra cost of hybridization.
BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.