When Prius chief engineer Masao Inoue was a new recruit to Toyota Motor Corp., he competed in Shell Oil's "Mileage Marathon," which was co-sponsored by Shell and Car Graphic magazine.
For four years he worked on technologies to make cars lighter and more fuel efficient. In 1983, his vehicle nearly achieved the goal of 200 kilometers per liter of fuel - or about 470 miles per gallon.
But Inoue didn't want to work on fuel economy just in corporate competitions; he wanted to do it full time.
He got his wish. Inoue, 43, one of Toyota's youngest chief engineers, spoke with Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin about the 2004 Prius.