Is Toyota's Prius technology patented?

In the April '07 Consumer Reports it says about the Prius: “The engine shuts off at idle and the car can run on electric power at low speeds.” To me, that is really cool–too bad I can’t afford one yet. My impression is that only the Prius can do this. Is this because Toyota has a patent on the technology, so no other manufacturer can

make a car with these abilities?

PS. The specific forum for HYBRIDS has been dumped?

I don’t know that their technology has been patented, although I would be surprised if it wasn’t. However, Toyota has licensed it’s technology to other companies, for instance, Ford. The Ford Escape Hybrid uses Toyota’s “Synergy” drive system, the same that’s in the Prius. Also, there are a number of other Toyotas that are hybrids: Camry Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, a couple Lexus vehicles, I believe, there may be more.

I’m sure toyota holds patents on the specific hardware and software used in their cars, but the general concept of a hybrid with the gasoline engine cycling as needed has been around forever (at least 30 years) and is much to general to patent. Any other car manufacturer who wants to market a hybrid will either license toyota’s technology or use other technology that is sufficiently different to not infringe on the toyota patents. I’m sure there will be lawsuits anyway.

I don’t know all of the details, but Toyota is currently being sued over “their” hybrid technology for patent infringement.
It was reported quite a while back on CNBC, MSNBC, etc.

Even if some of it is patented or protected, not all the car companies are trying. A car would get a gas mileage boost if three eight volt batteries were used to provide an assist of about twenty HP on uphill runs and for acceleration. A golf cart would probably go for thirty miles on a single charge if there were enough air in the tires and the hills weren’t too bad. We used to run them for at least eleven miles on a charge, about twice around the course. Those were just normal batteries. Imagine what you could do with good ones. Not to mention a good electric motor. I could do almost 90% of my driving with a totally electric car.