The problem is that no-one knows the plural of Prius, a world originally chosen in Japan because it meant 'to go before'. It's a latin word with no previous plural.
In the USA, where two new Prius models were previewed at the Detroit auto show, Toyota has taken the task to the people with a massive online poll that has drawn hundreds of thousands of votes from five Prius choices. It narrowed the field to five potential choices before the start of voting with Prius fans given a choice between Priuses, Prii, Prius, Prien and Prium.
The poll closes on February 20 when Toyota USA will announce the result, as well as locking in a Prius plural for its work on the expanded model lineup.
The first newcomer for the range - joining the current Prius and plug- in Prius hatches 0 is a more family-focussed people mover revealed as the Prius V at Detroit.
V, in this case and in the same way it is applied to Volvo's wagons, stands for versatility. The next new model is the smaller and slightly sportier Prius C. The Prius V is expected to be in American showrooms in the second half of this year, with the Prius C in the first half of 2012.
The launch dates point to more Australian action in 2012.
The two leading contenders in the Prius poll are Prii and Priuses, with Prien running last. As well as running the Prius vote, Toyota USA is using the arrival of the new models for an unusual online marketing campaign with a series of short films "featuring a notable expert exploring the etymology of words".
Etymology is the study of the development of words and the historical verification of their meanings.
PRIUS is likely to stay Prius in Australia. Despite the American push for a plural, Toyota Australia has a much more straightforward attitude to the name of its hybrid hero. "A Prius is a Prius. It's the same for one Prius or 20 Prius," says a Toyota Australia representative.
The company is studying the results from the USA but is unlikely to be rushed into any decision or change in its sales program.