In the European and American version of the Prius the top speed at which the car remains in EV mode was raised from 45 to 65 km/h (30 to 40 mph).
But the Prius has another outstanding feature: the electric gear. The torque and power of the gas engine is split by a planetary gear to an electric generator and to the wheels. The electric power from the generator charges the battery and the rest goes over an electric motor to the wheels.There is no friction or clutching necessary. On high power output situations like accelerating or driving uphill, the electric motor gets additional energy from the battery.
Toyota did anything so the car would feel like a normal car with automatic gear. But I think most Prius owners are very interested in hightech and would prefer more options possible with the advanced technology: more software options like economy mode, pure EV driving, stop and go automatic, technical information on the multi display. Best would be an open concept so interested people could add things by connecting a PC and reprogramming part of an EEPROM. Hints for Toyota.....
The Prius is very quiet as long as the load is low, but becomes noisy uphill and at acceleration. The best feature is the shutoff of the engine when the car stands still and on stop and go traffic. After the first 2000 miles with 50 mpg according to computer, but actually 47 mpg I am very satisfied with the Prius.
A big mistake of Toyota was to omitt cruise control in many countries. There is anything in the car except the switches. How can a company that makes such a car be so stupid? Well its not the company, its a single person in the wrong place.
Some interresting pages on the net:
Johns homepage with many nice pictures: http://john1701a.com/
The Yahoo news group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/toyota-prius/messages
A very good page for installing cruise control: http://www.ozonehouse.com/prius/