Toyota Moving Closer to Prius Line

Toyota is moving closer to creating an entire line of vehicles carrying the Prius name— as a way to leverage the success of the Toyota Prius as the icon of hybrids.

In an interview with Automotive News, Toyota’s top U.S. executive, Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, confirmed earlier reports that a family of hybrid vehicles using the Prius badge could be underway.

In the past few years, Toyota tried to promote its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology as a brand—with Toyota and Lexus hybrids carrying its badge. But the impact was not clear. The unique nature of Prius as a hybrid-only vehicle appears stronger in the market. Prius represents more than half of all hybrid sales.

“Try as we might to ingrain Hybrid Synergy Drive with consumers, what really stuck was Prius,” Lentz said in an interview. “So rather than spend millions more driving Hybrid Synergy Drive on Highlander or Camry, I think the consumer is telling us they like the idea of Prius.”

The concept would be to set up a Scion-like system of vehicles, mimicking Toyota’s youth-oriented brand. For instance, the company could create a Prius-badged family of products to add to the current five-door hatchback, Lentz said. A two-door coupe, a wagon or a commuter car would be ikely additions. Lentz added that Toyota is not considering making Prius a stand-alone sales network, like Scion.

Toyota will soon face increased competition from arch-rival Honda, which is introducing its own dedicated hybrid next year at a price-point well below that of the Prius. Honda will soon follow with two additional small affordable hybrids.

When will a family of Priuses arrive? Lentz would not discuss timing of Prius derivatives. “There is nothing in the pipeline,” Lentz said. “It all depends on our resources and when we can make it happen. The longer gas is at four dollars, the greater likelihood [these vehicles] will bubble to the top.”


  • Jeff

    People identify with the Prius name because it means 50+ mpg! The Hylander and Camry do not come close no matter what the emblem says. Branding lower mileage cars with the Prius name will only kill the name appeal. If you keep the line of vehicles above 40 mpg with one or two in the 70+ range then you will have something.

  • Shines

    Prius sells the best because it gets the best fuel economy of any 5 passenger vehicle, is safe, comfortable, reliable and not too expensive. Camry hybrid doesn’t sell as well because its fuel economy isn’t as good as the Prius and it costs more.
    If Toyota comes out with a Prius CY? ( Prius Camry) that costs the same as the Toyota Camry Hybrid and gets the same fuel economy I don’t think it would sell any better than the Camry Hybrid. More hybrids is good. Calling ‘em all Priuses(prii?) I doubt it

  • Andy

    People associate eating vegetables like broccoli with eating healthy so the consumer is telling us they like the idea of broccoli.

    Therefore, effective next month, we will be introducing a new line of softdrinks under the “Broccoli” label. There will be Broccoli-Coke, Broccoli-Sprite, Broccoli-Root Beer, and so on.

  • Giant

    “The Hylander and Camry do not come close …..”

    Easy does it there champ. My TCH is getting 43 mpg (on the current tank). That’s not that far off from the Prius.

  • GR

    I just watched a really interesting documentary called “Car of the Future.” It talks about alternative energy cars in a really interesting and entertaing way (they also talked about the Prius). If anyone has Netflix, you can watch it online on their website.

    Just thought I’d pass that along for my fellow hybrid car enthusiasts.

  • mdensch

    This is pretty old news. Some of the car magazines reported on this over six months ago and one has since reported that Toyota is dropping the idea.

  • Need2Change

    The 2009 Prius is slightly larger than the current model. It would make sense to create a smaller, version that gets 5-10 more MPG.

    I’m not sure of the wisdom of building a larger Prius than the 2009 Prius.

  • Indigo

    It wouldn’t take much to re-engineer a Yaris into a Prius Lite. Also, I drove a Camry Hybrid for two days as a loaner car recently and it is a really impressive machine. I was able to get 45 MPG by driving conservatively. A hypermiler could probably get low 50s. So I could easily see a Prius brand consisting of Yaris-like Prius, a Prius-Prius, and Camry-like Prius as the architypes.

  • Tim Fostik

    I agree with Indigo. Convert the Yaris into a hybrid and you’d easily be getting 60+ mpg. I’d buy it.

  • atuan_le

    I am a car fanatic, but I have lately cruised to work at 55 mph (that’s my car’s best gas milage speed) cause the gas price has increased. It helps increase my mpg by about 23% (from 24 mpg to 30 mpg). My wife was very surprised cause I changed form an extremely aggressive driver to a super conservative one. If one can make a car with 60+ mpg, I defenitely will buy one. Love the feeling of high mpg.

  • AF

    What is a TCH? What does it cost? 43mpg—too amazing??
    How much mile/gallon does a 1996Toyota Camry get?
    PLEASE DO NOT PUT ME ON MAILING LISTS….
    Thanks

  • SD

    AF:

    TCH stands for Toyota Camry Hybrid.

    According to fueleconomy.gov:

    1996 Toyota Camry
    Fuel Economy
    Fuel Type Regular
    MPG (city) 20
    MPG (highway) 28
    MPG (combined) 23

    (They have revised the 1985-2007 MPG estimates to make them comparable to the new 2008 MPG estimates)

  • Stefano

    Ok to have the prius name over a family of vehicles if they’re developed using the same concept of prius and mainly with the aim to reduce the use of fossil fuels and combustion engine for transportation. I’ll reccommend Prius Plug-in Hybrid Tech (PPHT) as complete name of the new family of vehicles.

    Stefano