After taking home the $1.5M grand prize, what’s next for the hybrid auto Goliath?

Toyota Motor Corporation was awarded the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize in Abu Dhabi today by H.H. General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Toyota won for its ground breaking fuel efficiency system of the third-generation Toyota Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle.

According to the Khaleej Times, “Toyota was presented with the grand prize of $1.5 million, while two runners up — Zhengrong Shi, Founder and CEO of Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, China and Amitabha Sadangi, CEO of International Development Enterprises India (IDEI) — were also awarded $350,000 each. All three finalists exuded the qualities associated with the Prize criteria, leadership, innovation and long-term vision, and are true ambassadors of renewable energy innovation.”

“Winning this award is true recognition of the years of hard work that went into making the Toyota Prius a reality and I am honored to receive it on behalf of Toyota Motor Corporation,” said Kazuo Okamoto, Vice Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation. “I am confident that this will further increase awareness of hybrid vehicles and their environment-friendly features, thereby contributing to a sustainable future in the long run.”

I’m still curious why Toyota is conspicuously missing from the list of Progressive Auto X PRIZE qualified teams? I understand that high performance is not a term that is often associated with the Prius, but surly Toyota could have come up with an entry that would have given the field a run for its money? Afterall, it certainly meets all of the other technical requirements for fuel-efficiency, emissions, safety, manufacturability, capacity, etc. Oh well, here’s hoping that they pay close attention to the stage race which begins in June.

About the Zayed Future Energy Prize

The award was created in 2008 to honor of the legacy of the late Ruler of Abu Dhabi and founding father and President of the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and recognize and inspire innovators in renewable energy from around the world. The award is open to any individual, company or non-governmental organization (NGO) that can demonstrate a tangible clean energy solution. This year, Idea Crossing was priviledged to work with ZFEP to provide the backend technology that powered the prize. Look out for nominations for the 2011 Zayed Future Energy Prize to open in the Spring.

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