The new Prius: Toyota prepares for battle

Toyota's third-generation Prius, released Monday, represents the latest incarnation of the automaker's iconic green machine, the first hybrid on the market. However, even as it prepares to take its place in showrooms, the Prius faces a serious challenge from another Japanese automaker.

There's a tendency to view hybrid auto sales through hippie-colored lenses, as if the ecologically-conscious nature of the beast somehow suggests a live-and-let-live mentality. However, it's worth noting that the two hybrid leaders, Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC), are intense competitors and hardened veterans of cutthroat competition. Ultimately, even on this greenest of battlegrounds, the old technique of undercutting market share still packs a punch.