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Gas prices driving up interest in hybrid, electric vehicles

Rice Toyota in Greensboro has seen a huge increase in customers wanting to buy hybrid and electric cars.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The record high gas prices may have you thinking about finding a different form of transportation to get to where you need to go. 

Local dealerships are seeing more customers interested in fuel alternative energy cars like hybrids and electric vehicles, or EV's.

Rice Toyota in Greensboro started selling the Prius, one of the first alternatives, about 25 years ago. In the next few months, they'll start selling their first fully EV car by Toyota.

"It’s called the bZ4X and I’ve seen it and it’s lovely and it’s already hit dealerships in California," said Mary Rice, dealer principal at Rice Toyota.

Rice said the majority of the people who walk into the dealership are interested in at least a hybrid car.

"I have seen recently more consumer interest in alternative energy vehicles. Where you used to see sit down with a customer and say well, have you considered a hybrid Camry? Oh, absolutely not. No, I only trust a gas engine," said Rice, "Now you see the customer go yes, I’ve been learning about EV'S and hybrids and maybe this is a good first step for me into this fully electric world."

Rice said there are a lot of things that need to happen before we see a complete shift to EV's on the roads, but it's currently in the works.

"Toyota has a business plan that they’re nice enough to share with us and they’re talking about a 90% of our fleet being offered in hybrid. Then as much of the EV's as the consumers would like, we will build," Rice said.

Before that can happen, Rice said the batteries for EV's need to improve. She said that they need to have better range and longevity to fit the average American's lifestyle and wallet.

Right now, she said those batteries are expensive and may only last 250 miles.

The good news is Toyota is building a plant right here in the Triad to make those batteries and improve their technology.

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