On December 21, Toyota took a 2nd generation Prius to the salt flats of Utah to change perceptions. Up until then, hybrids had the reputation for solid efficiency, but hardly for performance. It took a Toyota racing team, three miles and a custom set of tires to set a new hybrid land speed record of 130.79 mph. Not bad for a car that gets over 40 mpg.
It had been 24 years since the largest volcanic eruption in U.S. history, and a shaky Mount St. Helens looked like it might do it again. Instead, a mild ash eruption was sent into the air, and a new lava dome was formed. Meanwhile, over 30 million miles away, NASA landed two rovers on Mars. While no Martians have been discovered as of yet, the mission did find the first conclusive evidence of water on the red planet.
Finally, it wasn’t much of a surprise when an EEA environmental report listed the U.S. as the highest producer of CO2 in the world. The announcement reinforced the need for practical solutions, like Prius, for American drivers.