Today, in a dark ballroom packed with eager journalists and pushy photographers, Bob Carter, Toyota Division Group VP and General Manager, unveiled the third generation Prius. It's immediately recognizable as a Prius, with the same iconic, streamlined shape. Upon closer examination, the edges at the back look much sharper, and the rear spoiler is longer. Other than that, styling changes are minimal, although the subtle changes have reduced Prius's coefficient of drag to 0.25, making it the most aerodynamic mass-produced vehicle in the world.

But perhaps the most significant difference between generations of Prius is the improvement in fuel economy. The third gen Prius will reportedly boast a combined fuel economy of 50 MPG. Sure, that's only 4 MPH more than the 2nd gen Prius, but it boosts Toyota over an important psychological threshold. Under the hood, the 2010 Prius has adopted a brand-new beltless 1.8*litre four-cylinder 98-horsepower gas engine that runs at lower RPMs at highways speeds to help improve fuel economy.

The 2010 Prius will go on sale in the United States and Japan in late spring, with a first-year U.S. sales target of 180,000 units.