There's no doubt that Toyota’s Prius is the top selling hybrid car in the world. It's already sold more than half a million units, while competitors have struggled and sometimes failed with their own hybrid models. New evidence suggests the reason for the high sales aren't only due to the claimed environmental benefits. The likely answer is because of the Prius’ unique and practical body, which has been favoured by motorists wanting to advertise their green intentions. When people see a Prius they know exactly what it is, whereas hybrid versions of cars like the Honda Civic or Saturn Vue are virtually indistinguishable from regular models apart from a couple of badges.

In a recent survey conducted by CNW Marketing Research, more than 50% of Prius owners revealed that the main reason they bought their car was that "it makes a statement." In an interview with the International Herald Tribune, one Prius owner mentioned that he really wants people to know that he cares about the environment and another said that the Camry Hybrid was too subtle for the message they wanted to present.

Prius sales are up a staggering 93.7% for the year and Toyota is now on track to sell more than 175,000 units this year. In coming years, it plans to launch a family of Prius models and possibly a second hybrid brand.