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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Toyota Reconsiders The Prius Strategy

      Toyota goes back to drawing board with the Prius

    Back in 2011, Toyota made a very bold prediction; the Prius would be the best-selling Toyota model in the U.S. by the end of this decade. This seemed legitimate as gas prices had been climbing a steady rate and the Prius was the most popular hybrid. But that meant beating the Toyota Camry which in 2010 sold 327,104 models (the Prius only sold 140,928 models in 2010). To do this, Toyota would create the Prius family with the introduction of the Prius C, V, and Plug-In Hybrids.

     

    Five years on after this bold prediction, Toyota is reconsidering their plans. Thanks to lower gas prices (and in turn, consumers returning to pickups and crossovers) and models such as the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4 outselling it by a large margin, Toyota is now saying the Prius won't achieve that lofty goal.

     

    "Given all the changes in consumers' preferences right now, I don't think we're forecasting the Prius to be our top volume seller anymore," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager to Automotive News.

     

    Part of the reconsideration deals with the Prius C and V. Fay said Toyota is planning to "reinvest" in the C and V. But whether or not a second-generation happens for either model is still too early to tell.

     

    The V's future is in doubt more than the C because of a new hybrid model - the RAV4 Hybrid. While the RAV4 doesn't come close to matching the Prius V's fuel economy numbers (34 City/31 Highway/33 Combined for RAV4 Hybrid, 44 City/40 Highway/42 Combined for the Prius V), it does offer slightly more practicality and the option of all-wheel drive.

     

    "We'll have to see how well the RAV4 Hybrid does. Because the RAV4 could really take the place of the Prius V," Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America.

     

    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

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    Prius Family I believe will continue to shrink as Toyota and other companies like GM find ways to use the Hybrid plug in model on more common desired auto's. For GM, I hope the Equinox / Terrain ends up with a plug in Hybrid power train. My gut tells me the RAV4 Hybrid will do much better than the Prius V. After all everyone wants a CUV with better MPG but no loss in functionality.

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    People bought the Pruis to save on gas (even if the financials of that idea were sketchy), but taking the fuel savings aspect away, the Pruis was rather lousy as a car.  It handles poorly, has a lot of road and engine noise, every one I've driven has creaks and rattles, and they're ugly.  Now that gas is as low as $1.25 a gallon in some parts of the country, the fuel saving aspect is far less compelling and cannot overcome the negatives of the car.

     

    Other hybrids I've driven are actually decent at their primary task of being a car. You don't take an experience penalty to drive a Fusion Hybrid or Chevy Volt. You just get the normal, capable, Fusion and save fuel. In a Fusion hybrid, there is no downside outside of the price of admission to the hybrid theme park. 

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    Well, in the new MT test (which I think was poorly done)...

     

    The new Prius, despite its looks, they said really corrects many of the daily driving issues of previous generation cars. The car feels more substantial, not as much as the Volt, but the Volt is aided in that feel because of the heavy battery pack.

     

    And it beat its EPA estimates in their Real MPG test, that most hybrids fail to do really.

     

    I think, the car is quintessentially what Toyota is about. Take away the ugly styling, here you have a clearly Japanese-focused car. In the JDM market, it is the sales king, the car gets undoubtedly stellar mileage.

     

    And I think Volt still has the issue of being a more complicated car, that adds cost, and makes it less competitive on an entry starting point. 

     

    If there was any hybrid that was really just focused on mileage, it's Prius. But this generation, they've finally made it a daily car. And like Mini - it has its legacy quirks, part of the way the car is - is for it to be bizarre.

     

    Given how people actually drive cars, I think if someone told me they wanted efficiency first without the entry point of the Volt - handily get the Prius over the Fusion/Malibu/Camry/Sonata/Optima hybrids. Easily.

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